Kung Fu Panda and Jesus (Weekly excerpt from my book)

Shifu, with speed and skill of a Kung Fu master, steals the dumpling from Po [big panda] and eats it. Po shrugs it off and reaches for another morsel only to be deprived again. Shifu eventually takes all but one of the dumplings. Po recognizes the urgency of his plight and employs all of his training in an impressive display of skill. Shifu pulls out all of the stops, but Po’s motivation for food – now combined with the excellent training and excitement of doing Kung Fu – gives him the ability to do things he’s only dreamed of. Finally, he outmaneuvers his master. Shifu, pleased at what has been accomplished, tells Po he has earned his reward. It’s time to eat.

“I’m not hungry.” Po says.  He smiles and tosses the dumpling back to Shifu.

Po finally found something that satisfied him more than food. In taking seriously the responsibility assigned to him, he discovered that filling the gap in his soul was far more satisfying than filling the gap in his gut.

Do you remember why Jesus was at the well in John 4, where he had the eternal life-changing conversation with the Samaritan woman? He was in the middle of a long journey back to Galilee from Jerusalem with his disciples. The men had gone into town to get food while Jesus stayed at the well, hungry and exhausted from the trip. The disciples returned as the woman was leaving and they pressed their master to have some chow with them, but their Master’s hunger has been superseded by the effects of the encounter with the woman.

Jesus must have stood up by now. The excitement probably causes him to pace a little while he looks up to heaven with a tight grin, acknowledging his Father’s approval. He is sharing this moment with his Abba. I’m sure a couple of fist-pumps and a half whispered “Yessss” happen too.

Finally, he directs his attention to his disciples. He does a quick scan of the twelve sets of eyes to secure the attention of each man.  Smirk still intact, his shoulders and eyebrows raise and his palms turn up as if he can’t explain what he’s about to say. Then he blurts out, “I’m not hungry.”

The disciples, completely thrown off by this display, try to work out who could have brought him food. Jesus responds with the beginning of another Abbott-and-Costello-like scene: “I have food that you know nothing about. (John 4:32)” They were talking about actual food, the stuff they’d gone all the way into town to get. Jesus meant spiritual food – the kind of nourishment you only get from bearing fruit for God. While disciples try to figure out who could have brought Jesus food, Jesus interjects, “My food . . . is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. (John 4:34)”

Sure, Jesus enjoyed a good bite to eat among friends every now and then. Just look at how much he and his Father talked about banquets and feasts. Jesus did some of his best ministry around food, but this time was different. He refused stomach food because he was feasting on spiritual food that is far superior to it, and nobody in their right mind fills up on hot dogs when a porterhouse steak is on the table.

This is a sample from chapter 11: Pasture-ized, of my book The Attractive Shepherd.  Click on “About The Book” and “Read Chapter 1″ above for more info.  For samples from other chapters click on “Book Excerpts” just under the Twitter updates on the right side of this page. Comments are appreciated.

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