A Different Kind of Hunger
A Different Kind of Hunger (John 4:1-15, 27-34)
Hunger and thirst are expressions of basic human survival needs. In the passage, Jesus went beyond survival needs of food and water, and used them as starting points. The two kinds of language are used: earthly language and heavenly language. However, His audience misunderstood and interpreted it in their own language. Looking at other passages in the Bible, we can see how both languages come together through parables, earthly stories telling heavenly truths. Here, we see Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman and His disciples in heavenly language while they responded in earthly language. Similarly, when Jesus spoke to people at the temple and Nicodemus, they too took it literally.
The language of thirst talks about what drives our appetites, our needs. Jesus pointed out to the Samaritan woman that she was looking for her needs in the wrong place. In turn, He offered her the Living Water, water that comes from within a person and brings eternal life. This water has qualities of neither decay nor death, it brings life. Similar to the Samaritan woman, sometimes we do try to meet our own needs or appetites. The world offers us all things to meet our appetites but Jesus offers living water, at the level the world cannot meet.
Good shepherds are those that bring their sheep to pure mountain streams for good water, which are cleaner than at lower ground. However, along the way, stubborn ones might wander off to drink from the lower streams, which are dirty and polluted, and cause harmful side-effects. Like the sheep, we might be stubborn and look for substitutes along the way. We go for poor substitutes which are harmful to us in the long run. Jeremiah 2 shows how Israel forsakes God and, like the sheep, dug for their own water. What are we doing to satisfy our appetites?
Later on in the passage, Jesus referred to food in the figurative sense, but the disciples took it literally. He spoke in the language of hunger to His disciples in verse 34, where He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me to accomplish His work”. The food Jesus referred to was the Father’s will, that drove His ambitions. We saw how Jesus did His father’s will, through the Samaritan woman, who told the rest of the town about Him. Jesus was driven by love for the Samaritans, so that they could come to know the truth. Later in John 19, we can see how Jesus finished God’s work on the cross.
Appetites and ambitions sum up our desires. When we bargain with the world, we will always be left thirsty and hungry. It reminds us to always look to Jesus and remember how He met His hunger at the highest level, doing the Father’s will. And it also reminds us to hunger and thirst for God. So what’s the food that drives our ambitions? Is it our selfish human ambitions or something that’s pleasing to God?
Sheryl Yeo (youth intern)