Written by Octavius Winslow (1808 – 1878)
He said unto them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” John 4:32
We could scarcely have expected any other path more appropriate to Christ than the one which this passage indicates.
Any other would have been incongruous with the character, the mission, and the life of Jesus. He was a Divine Sun revolving in an orbit peculiarly His own, an orbit so vast that Deity alone could fill it. The path He took was too elevated for any to walk beside Him- His object, His sorrow, His joy too unique for a stranger to intermeddle with. The human nature of Christ was keenly sensitive. Naturally of a pensive mind, He loved retirement, courted solitude, sought the quietude of the desert, that there He might converse alone with God. With the nature of the work which He came to accomplish neither men nor angels could sympathize or aid. Deity, united with a sinless humanity; absolute God, yet in union with perfect man.
He alone could accomplish it.
No creature could share the curse, divide the burden, or tread a step with Him the wine-press of woe. Ah, no! with the accomplishment and the honor of our salvation man had nothing to do. It is the work of the God-man alone, and stands, in its own transcendent glory, the unaided achievement of the Incarnate God. While yet none ever lived so solitary a life as did our Lord, it yet was not a selfish, unloving life. Never did one live so entirely for others as He did. “He went about doing good.” He loved the solitary glen, but He loved man more; and to heal and soothe and bless man He would often exchange the calm, sequestered shade of the mountain, for the noise and the strife of the crowded city. And yet, amid the turmoil and engagements of public life, His spirit was often as lonely and desolate as though He trod the profound solitudes of the desert. He had food to eat of which none knew but Himself.
Then there was loneliness around the character of Christ. It was never fully known even by His beloved disciples, so constantly in His presence, sharing His love and admitted to His confidence. His words were misunderstood, His actions misinterpreted, a false complexion often put upon the most simple and transparent doings. And why this? Because He moved in an orbit unknown to all but God!
Equally lonely were the sorrows and sufferings of our Lord. The cross, in this respect, stood alone. There was no sharing of the cup which He drank, no dividing the sufferings which He endured, no partnership in the work which He finished. The scripture was fulfilled to the letter which said of Him, “I have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with me.” Not only did He endure in lonely, uncomplaining silence, the petty trials and annoyances of daily life, (for to whom could He repair with the woundings of His sensitive, loving spirit?) but the deeper anguish His soul endured in working out the redemption of His Church. Truly might He say to His disciples, “I have food to eat which you know not of.” This explains to us the one purpose of our Lord’s life. His food and His drink was to do the will of His Father, and to finish the work given Him to do. For this He lived and labored, for this He suffered, bled, and died. It was His food- the sustenance of His life. He only lived as He lived to accomplish this sublime end- the glory of God in the salvation of man. What a solemn lesson does this teach us!
Does our life have an adequate object? Are we doing or enduring the will of God?
Is the object for which we live, in which we employ our talents, expend our time, use our influence, devote our worldly substance, worthy of life’s present obligations and future award? Oh, beware of a blank life! What, reader, is your food and your drink? Is anything done for Jesus? anything for the glory of God? anything for the well being of your fellows? Remember that for all your abilities, God holds you accountable, and that before long death will cite you to his bar! Child of God! be up and doing. Say to the world, its enchantments, pleasures, and repose, “I have food to eat of which you know nothing. My food is to live for God.” Christ’s cross of suffering pledges us to a life of labor for Him. Service for Jesus is to be our daily food. There must be no pause, no succumbing to difficulty, no fainting beneath opposition. Life is a real, a solemn thing, too closely linked to a momentous future to be trifled with. Again, we ask, what is your object in life? Are you living for your Lord and for your fellow men? Do you carry within you a Christ-loving, man-loving heart, seeking the glory of God in the good of all with whom you come in contact, aiming to set a precious gem in the diadem of your Lord? Is it Christ for us to live, and do we feel as if life only were precious as we offer to Him all we hold most dear and valuable? Is it an object of our life to advance Divine truth, to enlarge Christ’s kingdom, to bring our fellow sinners to partake of His Divine redemption? Let us who hope through grace we are purchased with His blood, are saved by His resurrection, find our rest in toil, our joy in suffering, our food in service for Christ.
“The captive’s oar may pause upon the galley,
The soldier sleep beneath his plumed crest,
And peace may fold her wings over hill and valley,
But you, O Christian, must not take your rest.”
Oh, no! who would wish for rest here in Christ’s service, with an eternity of repose before him? His love constraining us, labor for Him is delectable, service for Him perfect freedom, His yoke easy, His burden light. Let the inquiry be, “Lord, what would you have me to do?” Thus honestly looking up to Him, the sphere of labor in which He would have you engage will be made plain, “And to every man his work.” Seek by prayer to know what the Master has assigned to you, and keep busy until He comes. And as you toil, perchance in pensive loneliness, uncomplaining suffering unnoticed, and unknown, cast your eye earthward and exclaim, “This is the place of labor;” -then raise your eye heavenward and exclaim, “Yonder is the place of rest!”
Taken from “The Foot of the Cross”.
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Octavius Winslow (1 August 1808 – 5 March 1878), also known as “The Pilgrim’s Companion”, stood out as one of the foremost evangelical preachers of the 19th Century in England and America. A Baptist minister for most of his life and contemporary of Charles Spurgeon and J.C. Ryle, he seceded to the Anglican church in his last decade. His Christ centered works show devotion, practicality, and an experimental calvinism of the highest order. His writings are richly devotional and warm the soul and inflames the heart with sincere love, reverence, and praise to Christ.