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32But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”

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32. I have food to eat which you know not. It is wonderful that, when he is fatigued and hungry, he refuses to eat; for if it be said that he does this for the purpose of instructing us, by his example, to endure hunger, why then did he not do so always? But he had another object than to say that we ought simply to refuse food; for we must attend to this circumstance, that his anxiety about the present business urges him so strongly, and absorbs his whole mind, so that it gives him no uneasiness to despise food. And yet he does not say that he is so eager to obey the commands of his Father, that he neither eats nor drinks. He only points out what he must do first, and what must be done afterwards; and thus he shows, by his example, that the kingdom of God ought to be preferred to all the comforts of the body. God allows us, indeed, to eat and drink, provided that we are not withdrawn from what is of the highest importance; that is, that every man attend to his own calling.

It will perhaps be said, that eating and drinking cannot but be avocations which withdraw some portion of our time that might be better employed. This I acknowledge to be true, but as the Lord kindly permits us to take care of our body, so far as necessity requires, he who endeavors to nourish his body with sobriety and moderation does not fail to give that preference which he ought to give to obedience to God. But we must also take care not to adhere so firmly to our fixed hours, as not to be prepared to deprive ourselves of food, when God holds out to us any opportunity, and, as it were, fixes the present hour. Christ, having now in his hands such an opportunity which might pass away, embraces it with open arms, and holds it fast. When the present duty enjoined on him by the Father presses him so hard that he finds it necessary to lay aside every thing else, he does not scruple to delay taking food; and, indeed, it would have been unreasonable that, when the woman left her pitcher and ran to call the people, Christ should display less zeal. In short, if we propose it as our object not to lose the causes of life on account of life itself, it; will not be difficult to preserve the proper medium; for he who shall place it before him as the end of life to serve the Lord, from which we are not at liberty to turn aside even for the immediate danger of death, will certainly reckon it to be of more value than eating and drinking. The metaphor of eating and drinking is so much the more graceful on this occasion, that it was drawn seasonably from the present discourse.




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