“Come, all you who are thirsty,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
I have always thought that this is one of the most beautiful versus in the Bible. It is so poetic and promises such relief to people who are weary of trying to keep up with the daily demands of everyday life. Sometimes our lives can get so full with all our busyness, yet we are left feeling so empty and so unsatisfied. In John 4:32, Jesus seems to echo the heart of this scripture when He confounds His disciples by saying, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Already the disciples were taken by surprise to find Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman. They didn’t know what to make of it, so they offered Jesus something to eat. I suppose they thought Jesus had taken leave of his senses due to lack of nourishment. But, Jesus’ response confused them even more. Maybe, they thought, “someone else brought Jesus some food.” But in verse 34, Jesus explains, “my food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work. “
The work that Jesus was given to do was to demonstrate the Father’s will to love and save His people. That was the food that Jesus’ disciples knew nothing about.
I remember the first time these two verses came alive to me. It was during the early years of our outreach ministry to the poor and homeless. At that time, StreetLight was still called “Vineyard Compassion Ministries”. I was working for the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, overseeing the ministry and a family came to our office looking for help. They’d just been evicted from their apartment when the building they lived in was condemned. Of course, every resident had to leave. This family, however, had nowhere to go. They had a daughter who was nine years old and I was horrified to learn that the family had spent the previous night sleeping on the streets. I couldn’t tell if the little girl looked more angry or afraid, but I was certain she looked miserable. Immediately, we stabilized the family in a hotel room since the shelters were full. The father had a job, and expected to get paid at the end of the week, but when the eviction occurred, he was broke. After developing relationship with the family, we also learned that the father had a poor credit history, including an eviction debt from a previous apartment. The unpaid rental debt prevented him from qualifying for another apartment. The outstanding balance had to be satisfied before another apartment complex would approve his lease application. Upon learning this information, I shared the family’s situation with the Senior Pastor of the church. The following Sunday the Pastor took an offering to help this family. We raised enough money to pay the eviction debt, buy furniture, bed linens, kitchen supplies and a week’s worth of groceries. The night we moved the family into their new apartment is one I will never forget. I went with the family to view the apartment, and when I opened the door, the little girl burst through the doorway and ran through every room of the apartment. She had a wide smile on her face, stretching from ear to ear, she was so excited to be home. After picking out a bedroom for herself, she came back and embraced me with a big long bear hug. That same night, a team of people from the church joined us so they could help move in the furniture we bought and set up the beds and unpack the kitchen supplies and groceries. Within a couple of hours, the family was moved in and settled. We prayed before we left and hugged goodbye and I walked out to my car to go home. Before I reached my car, I realized exactly what Jesus meant when He told His disciples “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” My spirit and soul felt so satisfied. I felt as though I had just eaten an exceptionally good meal –very rich, like one you get at a very fine restaurant. You know — the kind of meal that that is so delectable that you just savor every bite until your done, and then you continue to savor the memory of each bite for days afterward. But, the experience of helping that family and seeing that little girl’s eyes light up when she entered the apartment was so, so much better. I was sure that I would savor this moment the rest of my life. This was the kind of food that Jesus’ disciples knew nothing about. This was the meaning of the work that Jesus was to do for His Heavenly Father. He came to demonstrate the overwhelming love of the Father’s heart for each one of us. That was the work that was so satisfying to Jesus. More satisfying than food, more satisfying than material possessions or pleasure, and more satisfying than power. The food Jesus referred to was so satisfying that it sustained Him even as He gave His life for us on the cross.
At StreetLight we continue to dine on the “richest of fare” each and every week. We invite you to come dine with us at our Wednesday night Harvest Banquet Outreach dinner for the poor and homeless, and begin to experience food that will satisfy the soul.
Rose Powers, Executive Director