Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see a marked difference between His priorities and the concerns of His disciples. The disciples were often preoccupied with how to meet their physical needs (Matt. 14:15-17; John 4:8; Luke 18:28). Jesus repeatedly assured them that the Father knew their needs and would provide (Luke 11:11-13). Jesus stressed that their priority was to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”; the necessities of daily life would be provided (Matt. 6:33).
When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, His disciples had gone into a nearby town to get food. While His disciples were seeking earthly nourishment, Jesus was giving this woman “living water” that would satisfy her soul for eternity. When they returned, the disciples urged Jesus to eat. He replied that His “food” was to do the will of His Father. Since their attention was on earthly matters, His disciples misunderstood His reply. Jesus’ very life came from obeying His Father. Because of Jesus’ obedience that day, the woman received eternal life. In her excitement, she brought many others to Jesus to hear for themselves, and many believed that He was indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world (John 4:39-42).
The apostle Paul understood what Jesus had been teaching His disciples. When Paul wrote to the believers in Rome, he stressed that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men” (Rom. 14:17-18).
When Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, Jesus quoted the Scriptures, summarizing the focus of His life and ministry: “Know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut. 8:3).