"I have meat to eat that ye know not of. My meat ia to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to accomplish His work."— John iv. 32, 34.
HEN tempted in the wilderness by Satan to
11 satisfy His hunger by a miracle, Christ answered: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The life is more than bread. God's word, received and obeyed, is the true nourishment of our life. In the Beatitudes Christ spake: Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness—after the doing of what is right; they shall be satisfied. And so He says here of Himself that to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to accomplish His work, is the meat that He eats, the food by which He lives. The hidden manna is God's will; to do it is to eat and live. Let us think what this eating teaches us.
Eating means tlie maintenance of life. — All
created life must be supported by nourishment from without, if it is not to die. And the food must ever be in correspondence to the nature of the life it sustains, and the organs provided for receiving it. Our physical life is fed from the life of nature. Our spiritual life can only be maintained out of the eternal life that is in God. There is no way for our receiving that life day by day hut by doing the will of God. The life of God reveals and communicates itself only in His will. In its first beginning life is always a gift. But its maintenance is always connected with action and growth. It is doing God's will, and accomplishing His work, that will secure to the Christian the daily continuance in the Divine life.
Eating means appropriation.—Our body receives from the outer world, of which it is a part, that by which it lives, the constituent elements by which its life is sustained. These can nourish us in no other way but by being taken up into our system, assimilated and made a very part of our own selves. Even so in the spiritual life. As we have said already, the life of God acts and manifests itself through the will of God. And it is only by truly and fully appropriating that will, taking it into our system, wholly assimilating it, and making it a part of our own being, by doing it, that the life can be maintained in us. The life is a hidden spiritual mystery; the will is its concrete expression, capable of being known, and accepted or rejected. And because the will is the Divine power in action, so there is no possible way of assimilating the Divine will but by action on our part, that is, by our doing it. It is not the knowledge, or the admiration, or the approval of the will of God, but the doing of it that alone feeds the heavenly life. It is only by doing that I really make it my own. "My meat is to do His will."
Eating means the renewal and increase of strength. —We do not eat just enough to maintain a bare existence; we desire to have food, both in quantity and quality, sufficient to give us strength and vigour for our work. Doing God's will is the sure way to become strong. Many Christians seek their strength in prayer, in faith, in the promises, in fellowship. They complain of their feebleness. They have never learnt that Christ made doing the will of the Father His meat; it was this that was rewarded with the Divine strength for all He had to do. He felt that He had but one thing to do in the world—to accomplish the work for which God had sent Him; as He did it He received new strength for what He still had to do. It is this His disciples need. The whole power of God works in His will. As I appropriate that will, and know I am doing the very thing God is willing for me, its powers work in me. Doing the will of God brings heavenly strength.
Eating means satisfaction.—God has so created us that a sense of need, of hunger, impels us to seek food, and makes our partaking of it an enjoyment and a source of satisfaction. "Bless the Lord, who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's." "He satisfieth the hungry soul." It is feeding on the will of God that gives this Divine satisfaction. The will of God is His glory and perfection; doing that will leads up into a wonderful fellowship and partnership with Himself. But that means more than just doing what is right or keeping the law. No, the right things may be done under the constraint of conscience or duty without bringing real satisfaction. It is only when what we do is done as the will of the Father, in the sense of His presence, in fellowship with Himself, and the loving desire to please Him, that it will give nourishment and strength and satisfaction to the soul.
There are many Christians who mourn over their leanness and their feebleness. They study Christ's image and example, they seek in some things to be conformed to Him, and yet find so little either of the power or the joy of living as He lived. The cause is simple. They do not feed on the food on which Christ fed. Two children, or two men, may be equally healthy, but the difference of food may make all the difference between their strength and success in the work of life. The believer has the same eternal life that was in Christ Jesus. But it needs the same daily food if there is to be any measure of that conformity which God expects and has provided for. Our Lord tells us: My meat is that I do the will of Him that sent Me. He that eats of this meat shall have the life more abundant, shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness.
And what can be the reason of so much failure in feeding on this heavenly food? It may be that the Church has not taught it as clearly as was needed. Or that we heard and heeded not. Or that when we did heed, we were deceived by the lie of Satan that this was too hard a path. And yet the Lord has said it so plainly: The will of God is the glory of heaven; the doing of God's will ought to be our great prayer on earth. The doing of God's will is the only pass to heaven, the only mark of the family likeness in the home of Jesus. The doing of God's will the only food on which a child of God can thrive and be able to accomplish the work the Father has given us to do. The doing of God's will our daily food; we must go back upon our past life and see if this has been what we have been feeding on. And if not, we must believe that a change of diet, a return to the simple, heavenly fare on which the Son of God lived His life and did His work, will restore us to health and make the work of God our joy and our life.
Soul! pray for a great hunger for the will of God, as natural and as continual as for your daily bread. Beg, even if it were at first but for a crumb of this heavenly bread from the Father's table, God showing you His will for you, and enabling you to do it for Him. It may be the beginning of such a change in your life. The work you have done for God, at your choice and in your way, and the commandments you have tried to obey, may all become to you the loving will of the living Father, living fellowship with the living God. Instead of eating the bread you had to find yourself, you will say: "I have meat to eat ye know not of "—the will of the Father made known and performed day by day.