Jesus said to them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)My meat.—Better, My food, as before (John 4:8).
To do the will. . . . to finish.—Better, that I may do the will, . . . that I may finish. These verbs point out the end which He ever kept in view. In some of the best MSS., and in the received text, the tenses are different. That. I may be constantly doing the will of Him that sent Me, and may then at last complete His work. (Comp. John 17:4.)
This work He speaks of here, and in John 4:32, as actual food, as the supply of the truest needs, and the satisfaction of the truest desires of His nature. (Comp. Note on Matthew 4:4.) Analogies to this are within the limits of every man’s experience, and, faint as they are, help us to learn something of what this spiritual sustenance was. The command of duty, the cheering power of hope, the stimulus of success, are forces that supply to weak and weary nerves and muscles, the vigour of a new life. Under them the soldier can forget his wounds, the martyr smile at the lion or the flame, the worn-out traveller still plod onward at the thought of home. We cannot analyse this power, but it exists. They have food to eat that those without know not of.John 4:32. His great object - the great design of his life - was to do the will of God. He came to that place weary and thirsty, and at the usual time of meals, probably hungry; yet an opportunity of doing good presented itself, and he forgot his fatigue and hunger, and found comfort and joy in doing good - in seeking to save a soul. This one great object absorbed all his powers, and made him forget his weariness and the wants of nature. The mind may be so absorbed in doing the will of God as to forget all other things. Intent on this, we may rise above fatigue, and hardship, and want, and bear all with pleasure in seeing the work of God advance. See Job 23:12; "I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necesary food." We may learn, also, that the main business of life is not to avoid fatigue or to seek the supply of our temporal wants, but to do the will of God. The mere supply of our temporal necessities, though most people make it an object of their chief solicitude, is a small consideration in the sight of him who has just views of the great design of human life.
The will of him that sent me - The will of God in regard to the salvation of men. See John 6:38.
To finish his work - To "complete" or fully to do the work which he has commanded in regard to the salvation of men. It is his work to provide salvation, and his to redeem, and his to apply the salvation to the heart. Jesus came to do it by teaching, by his example, and by his death as an expiation for sin. And he shows us that "we" should be diligent. If he was so diligent for our welfare, if he bore fatigue and want to benefit us, then we should be diligent, also, in regard to our own salvation, and also in seeking the salvation of others.John 5:30, that which he came down from heaven for, John 6:38. As the law of God was sweeter to David than the honey or the honey comb, so the publishing of the gospel was to Jesus Christ, the calling sinners to repentance, and publishing the glad tidings of the Messiah; that was his work, which he tells his Father he had finished, John 17:4. Hereby teaching ministers, and people also, to prefer spiritual things before temporal; and the ministers of the gospel especially, to prefer the publishing of the gospel (which is their work) to any other employment whatsoever.
my meat is to do the will of him that sent me. The Ethiopic version reads, "of my Father that sent me", and who is undoubtedly intended. Now as food is pleasant, and delightful, and refreshing to the body of man, so doing the will of God was as delightful and refreshing to the soul of Christ: he took as much pleasure in it, as an hungry man does in eating and drinking. One part of the will of God was to assume human nature; this he had done, and with delight and pleasure: another part of it was to fulfil the law; and this was in his heart, and was his delight, and he was now doing it: and another branch of it was to suffer and die, in the room and stead of his people; and as disagreeable as this was in itself to the human nature, yet he cheerfully agreed to it; and was sometimes, as it were, impatient till it was accomplished; and he voluntarily became obedient to it: no man could, with greater eagerness, fall to eating, when hungry, than Christ went about his Father's will and work, even that which was most ungrateful to him, as man.
And to finish his work; one part of which was to preach the Gospel, and for, which he was anointed and sent; and which he did with great assiduity and constancy: and another part of it was the conversion of sinners by it, whom he was sent to call, and with whom he delighted to be; and was the work he was now about, and took the pleasure in, the text expresses: and beside these miracles were works his Father gave him to finish; such as healing diseases, and dispossessing of devils, and which he went about doing continually, with great delight: but the chief, work of all is, that of redemption and salvation of his chosen ones: this was a work his Father called him to, and sent him into this world to perform, which he gave unto him, and Christ accepted of, and agreed to do; and though it was a very toilsome and laborious one, there being a righteous law to be fulfilled, justice to be satisfied, the sins of all his people to bear, as well as the wrath of God, and the curse of the law, and numerous enemies to grapple with, and an accursed death to undergo; yet with pleasure he performed this: for the joy of his Father's will, accomplishing his counsels and covenant, and his own engagements, and procuring the salvation of his people, he endured the cross patiently, and despised the shame of it. The whole of the and work of God was done by him, just as the Lord commanded it; exactly, according to the pattern given him, with all faithfulness and integrity; with the most consummate wisdom and prudence; with all application, diligence, and constancy, and so as to finish it, and that without the help of any other; and in such a manner that nothing can be added to it to make it more perfect, or that it can be undone again by men or devils: and that the doing and finishing of this were his meat, or as delightful and refreshing to him as meat is to the body, appears from his ready and cheerful engaging in it in eternity; from his early and industrious entrance on it in time; from his constancy in it, when he had begun, insomuch that nothing could deter him from it; nor did he sink and fail under it, nor left it till he had finished it.Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 4:34. Jesus answers their question though not put to Him: Ἐμὸν βρῶμα … τὸ ἔργον. Westcott thinks the telic use of ἵνα can be discerned here; “the exact form of the expression emphasises the end and not the process, not the doing and finishing, but that I may do and finish”. Lücke acknowledges that it is not always easy to distinguish between the construction of αὕτη or τοῦτο with ἵνα and with ὅτι, but that here it is possible to discriminate; and translates “Meine Speise besteht in dem Bestreben,” etc. It is much better to take it as the Greek commentators and Holtzmann and Weiss take it, as equivalent to τὸ ποιῆσαι. See especially 3 John 1:4. [“Sometimes, beyond doubt, ἵνα is used where the final element in the sense is very much weakened—sometimes where it is hard to deny that it has altogether vanished.” Simcox, Grammar, 177.] The idea that mental or spiritual excitement acts as a physical stimulant is common. Cf. Plato’s λόγων ἑστίασις, Tim., 27 B; Thucydides, i. 70, represents the Corinthian ambassadors as saying of the Athenians μήτε ἑορτὴν ἄλλο τι ἡγεῖσθαι ἢ τὸ τὰ δέοντα πρᾶξαι. See also Soph., Electra, 363, and the quotations in Wetstein; also Browning’s Fra Lippo Lippi, “to find its [the world’s] meaning is my meat and drink”. Jesus does not say that His meat is to bring living water to parched souls, but “to do the will of Him that sent me, and to accomplish His work”. First, because throughout it is His aim to make Himself a transparency through which the Father may be seen; and second, because the will of God is the ultimate stability by fellowship with which all human charity and active compassion are continually renewed.34. My meat is to do the will, &c.] Literally, My food is that I may do the will of Him that sent Me and thus finish His work. It is Christ’s aim and purpose that is His food. Comp. John 5:36, John 8:56. These words recall the reply to the tempter ‘man doth not live by bread alone,’ and the reply to His parents ‘Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business.’ Luke 4:4; Luke 2:49.John 4:34. Βρώμα, the meat) with which my appetite is satisfied.—τελειώσω, that I may finish) Not yet had Jesus reached the middle of His time of action, and yet now He is thinking of the end [the finishing work]: so earnestly did He act throughout. The same verb occurs, ch. John 5:36, “The works which My Father hath given Me to finish.” Concerning the thing meant, comp. ch. John 6:38-39, at the end: “I came down from heaven not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me; and this is the Father’s will,” etc., “that of all which He hath given Me, I should lose nothing, but raise it up again at the last day.”—τὸ ἔργον, work) a work, one, great, and which embraces Israelites, Samaritans, and all nations.Verse 34. - Jesus said to them, My food - that which satisfies my strongest desire, and quenches all other desire - is that I may do continuously the will of him that sent me on my mission to this people and to this world. "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God," was the motto and burden of his life. "Not my will, but thine," was the sacrificial cry which redeemed the world. To teach man to do the will of the Father is the motive which sustained him, and the prayer he put upon human lips was, "Thy will be done." Meyer here rightly says that ἵνα is not equal to ὅτι. Some expression is given by it as to the end and purpose of the mysterious life of which we have these sacred illustrations. The doing of the will of God is a perpetual and sublime activity, a continuing, ceaseless purpose; while the completion of the work will be one consummating act, towards which all the daily doing of the will is a preparation, and of which, in some sense, every day we discern a prelibation and forthshadowing. In John 17:4 he says, τελειώσας, "having completed the work thou," etc. This passage points on to that (cf. also John 5:30, 6:38; 7:18; 8:50; 9:4; 12:49, 50; 14:31, etc.).
A different word from that in John 4:32, signifying what is eaten.
To do (ἵνα ποιῶ)
Literally, in order that I do. Emphasizing the end and not the process. Frequently so used in John. See on John 3:19.
Better, as Rev., accomplish. Not merely bring to an end, but perfect. From τέλειος, perfect. The verb is characteristic of John, and of the Epistle to the Hebrews. See John 5:36; John 17:4; John 19:28; 1 John 2:5; 1 John 4:12; Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:9, etc.
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