“Meanwhile the disciples besought him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
Food is one of my great delights in all of God’s creation. There is such variety in the world. I love experiencing the culinary delights of different cultures. In January, my family and I were in Israel tasting the many delicious varieties of foods in the Middle East. Each year, the Lenten season reminds me of the inordinacy of my love for foods (especially carbs), as I seek to grow spiritually through the discipline of fasting. Here’s a picture of a street Bakery in Jerusalem. The bagels are incredible!
As I think about it, I don’t have to wait till Lent to be reminded. I’m reminded each time I step on my bathroom scales. Food is necessary for life. We need food to convert for energy to function the way a motor needs fuel to run. However, the typical American diet goes beyond the bounds of the necessary.
Jesus was well acquainted with the spiritual discipline of fasting. I’m sure His disciples often saw him fast in ways that amazed them. I find it fascinating that in seeing Jesus and His encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, the disciples thought Jesus needed something to eat. They may have thought he was getting delirious from the hunger after a long journey. After all, why else would he be talking to a woman? And a Samaritan woman at that.
Jesus may well have been hungry, but He knew the satisfying feeling that comes from sharing hope with a lost soul. He knew that no physical bread could satisfy the soul like the very word of God. Jesus is the real “soul food”. Both He and the woman went away feeling filled, filled from knowing and doing the Father’s will. That is the filling we seek during the Lenten season.
We seek a filling for all of life, one that won’t fade away. During Lent, we take time out of our everyday routine of eating and drinking to fast for more of the only thing that can truly satisfy us – God. And, it is in that filling that we find the source of our joy. It is food for our souls to know and be known by our creator.
As you begin this second week of Lent, spend some time with Jesus at the well. I promise you won’t go away hungry or thirsty.
My daily Lenten prayer – “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit. ” NRSV