What would Jesus eat if He joined your feast this year? Picture it with me, Jesus sits down at the table with your family. In the middle of the table sits a plump golden-brown turkey surrounded by green beans, mashed potatoes, crescent rolls, cranberry sauce, corn casserole, sweet potatoes, and gravy. Then your crazy uncle walks into the room and does his best boxing announcer imitation, “MMM, Let’s get ready to GOOOBBBLLLEEE!”
It’s a silly picture, I know. But for a disciple maker the question of Jesus’ appetite is serious. Like us, Jesus was fully human and food is a big part of the human experience. God’s given us such variety of foods to eat (Gen 9:3). Food is a cornerstone of celebrations all over the world. Foods come in an array of flavors, colors, and textures that bring a richness to life.
We can’t talk about food without talking about hunger though. Hunger is the God-given desire to repeatedly eat. Over and over again we feel hungry then we eat, feel hungry then eat. Food and hunger are so closely aligned that one provides meaning to the other.
In fact, our hunger drives us towards food. Proverbs 16:26 says, “The laborer’s appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on.” The hunger we carry shapes both our motivation and our movement. In other words, we can discern a person’s hunger by watching how they move and what they do.
So what was Jesus’ relationship to food? We have no reason to believe He was a foodie. The few times we see him eating it’s common food like fish, bread, and figs. However, He did make some amazing wine and often talked about feasts.
In John 4, the shape of Jesus’ appetite becomes clear.
You know the story. It was around noon and Jesus was tired from the journey so he sat near a well. The disciples left him there and went into town to buy food. While they were gone Jesus talked with a Samaritan woman. Though they were surprised by the sight of Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman, they didn’t mention it. Soon, she left, and the disciples tried to get Jesus to eat.
Instead of eating, Jesus told them He had food they knew nothing about. Thinking someone else had given Him something to eat, Jesus clarified, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish His work.”
Did you catch that? It’s an amazing statement. Jesus is saying that He is so satisfied in fulfilling the call God had given him that His appetite was already filled!
As a disciple and disciple maker here are three lessons I will remember this holiday season.
1. Jesus’ appetite was transformed from primarily physical to primarily spiritual by His depth with God.
As a disciple maker, my primary call is to love God with everything that I am. Anything that competes for my heart’s devotion (food, coffee, sports, etc.) threatens to sidetrack my transformation and His desires for my life.
Justin Gravitt, author of this blog, is with Navigator’s Church Ministries. They have made available to you, “The Start Small Grow Slow Strategy,” which you can download for free here.
2. Jesus’ appetite was defined by the work God Called Him to do. Physical food wasn’t His focus, eternal things were (Col 3:2-3).
That focus gave Him a motivation that’s marked by urgency, “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest?’” (John 4:35), but Jesus says the time is NOW! As a disciple maker, my life must be marked by an urgency to follow God and to invite others to do the same.
3. Jesus’ appetite served Him by illuminating God’s unfinished work.
Jesus never condemns someone for being hungry or wanting something more. He identifies Himself as the bread of life (John 6: 35) and the deliverer of living water (John 4:14). Jesus helps us to see that our hunger will either serve us or enslave us. As a disciple maker I can emulate Jesus’ submission to God and allow Him to mold my appetite so it serves me by directing me into the things God has for me to do.
So, what would Jesus eat if he joined your feast this year? We can’t know for sure what would be on His fork, but what would be on His mind wouldn’t be the turkey. It would be your crazy uncle and your family…and you. Let’s be like Him.
Written by Justin Gravitt
Justin Gravitt is the Dayton (Ohio) Area Director for Navigator Church Ministries. Read more from Justin at his blog, “One Disciple to Another,” where this article first appeared.