With the rising popularity of John Piper’s Desiring God as well his overall emphasis of being satisfied in God, my generation has been moved to seek satisfaction in our relationships with God. In Psalm 17:15, the psalmist passionately declares:
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.
This emphasis is right and proper. In an age when individuals are incessantly tempted to be distracted by what is shiniest, Christians, as they progress in sanctification, should be increasingly satisfied in God and decreasingly satisfied by stuff.
Sadly, however, what I’ve seen on occasion and what I’ve known experientially is not complete satisfaction from God. Sipping a mint mocha frappe at Starbuck’s while reading Mortification of Sin or Valley of Vision is not the purposed end of deep and sustaining satisfaction in God.
I fear that too many Christians are only finding half of the satisfaction that God intended for us. If we only search for satisfaction in God, and never put our hands to the plough in working for God, then we will not gain the whole of the satisfaction that God designed for us.
That was Jesus’ point in John 4. While the disciples were in the city buying food for them and for Jesus, an immoral Samaritan woman approaches Jacob’s well. You know the story; our Lord lovingly confronts the sin of her heart, convicting her of sin. When the Lord, then, reveals his messianic identity, the woman runs to her home proclaiming that Jesus is some sort of prophet sent from God. The disciples stumbled upon this scene and said something like this in their hearts,
Master, why are you speaking to a woman? Why this woman? How could you defile yourself like this, Lord? Why aren’t you reading the Puritans…
But none of them said a word. Instead, they told Jesus that he must eat. Naturally, they would think that Jesus needed something to sustain and satisfy him amidst their long journeying. Jesus answered,
I have meat to eat that you don’t know about…My meat is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish his work.
Here, Jesus reveals that there is satisfaction in doing, in accomplishing – in working. Usually, when we think about being satisfied in our Christian life, we think of satisfaction primarily in terms of our relationship with God. Here, Jesus explains that there is satisfaction in our work for God.
What is this satisfying work?
The context is clear. Immediately preceding, Jesus has a spiritual encounter with the Samaritan woman that leads to confrontation and conviction of personal sin. Immediately after this scene, Jesus says, “Lift up your eyes and look unto the fields, for they are white already to harvest.” The work that our Lord speaks of is a gospel, disciple-making work.
The great commission is not an option from peer to peer; it is a command from the King to his servants. Here, however, Jesus is reminding us that there is delight to be found in our service to the King.