"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst" (John 6:35)
INTRO.: A hymn which pictures Jesus as the food and drink that we need to live spiritually is "Satisfied." The text was written by Clara Tear Williams, who was born on Sept. 22, 1858, near Painesville Lake, OH, into the family of Thomas and Mary Evangeline Searl Tear who were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Early in life she determined to devote herself to gospel work. At first her work was in Methodist Protestant churches. Around 1875 she was helping in meetings at Troy, OH, where the singing was led by Ralph Erskine Hudson (1843-1901). As they were retiring one night, Hudson, a well-known gospel song composer and publisher, asked Clara to provide a song for a book that he was preparing to publish. Before going to sleep, she produced these words, and in the morning Hudson composed the music.
The song was first printed in the 1881 Gems of Song compiled by Elisha A. Hoffman, John H. Tenny, and Hudson. One source says that the song was done in 1881 and published in 1884. After three years of teaching school in Ohio, from 1879 to 1882, Clara joined Mary DePew in evangelistic campaigns among Wesleyan Methodist groups and continued in this work intermittently until 1890, travelling, often alone, in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. During this period, she sometimes served as an interim minister and other times a circuit riding preacher, an uncommon position for a woman at that time, even among denominational churches. In 1895 she married William H. Williams, also a Wesleyan preacher, and they lived successively in Canton and Massilon, OH; Houghton, NY; and Philadelphia, PA; and finally returned to Houghton where they retired.
In 1900, Clara Williams served as a consulting editor for Sacred Hymns and Tunes Designed for Use in the Wesleyan Methodist Connection. After moving to Houghton as young boy in 1917, George Beverly Shea, the well-known song-leader for the Billy Graham crusades, was introduced by his father to the elderly Mrs. Williams, who later died on July 1, 1937, at Caneadea, NY, near Houghton. Shea remembered her as having "a regal and dignified bearing and yet…the kindness and gentleness of Christ in her face." He said, "When I came to know her and often spoke with her, I enjoyed the soft, musical tones of her voice." Among songbooks published by members of the Lord’s church in the twentieth century for use among churches of Christ, the only one in which I have seen the song is Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. edited by Alton H. Howard.
The song emphasizes the importance of seeking Christ to fulfil our spiritual needs.
I. Stanza 1 talks about spiritual thirst.
"All my life long I had panted For a draught from some clear spring,
That I hoped would quench the burning Of the thirst I felt within."
A. The thirst of the soul for the Lord is pictured as a deer panting for the water brooks: Ps. 42.1-2
B. There is a well from which we can drink and never thirst again: Jn. 4.13-14. (Note: Apparently, in an effort to "update" the language of the song and seemingly make it more "understandable" or "relevant" for people today, the original first line was changed to "All my life I had a longing" in The Baptist Hymnal of 1991, and the second line to "For a drink from some clear spring" in Hope Publishing Company’s Crusader Hymns of 1966.)
C. Jeus promised that those who thirst after righteousness shall be filled: Matt. 5.6
II. Stanza 2 talks about spiritual hunger.
"Feeding on the husks around me, Till my strength was almost gone,
Longed my soul for something better, Only still to hunger on."
A. The sinner seeking spiritual nutrition in the world is likened to the prodigal son who would have eaten the husks that he fed the pigs: Lk. 15.11-16
B. It is just as true in the spiritual realm as in the physical that if we do not receive the proper nutrition, our strength will dry up: Ps.
C. For those who still hunger on, God offers that which will satisfy the hungry soul: Ps. 107.9
III. Stanza 3 talks about spiritual poverty.
"Poor I was, and sought for riches, Something that would satisfy,
But the dust I gathered round me Only mocked my soul’s sad cry."
A. Those who are not right with the Lord can be thought of as being poor: Rev. 3.14-17
B. The fact is that the riches of this world can never satisfy the deepest and innermost longings of the soul: Matt. 16.26
C. God has something to offer those who understand that they are poor before God: Isa. 55.1-3
IV. Stanza 4 talks about spiritual satisfaction.
"Well of water, ever springing, Bread of life so rich and free,
Untold wealth that never faileth, My Redeemer is to me."
A. Jesus is a well out of which flows rivers of living waters for all who thirst: Jn. 7.37-38
B. Jesus is the bread of life of whom we can eat and never die: Jn. 6.48-51
C. Jesus provides unsearchable riches that will never fail: Eph. 3.8
CONCL.: The chorus expresses great joy at having found these blessings in Christ.
"Hallelujah! I have found Him Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings–Through His blood I now am saved."
The original read, "Hallelujah! I have found it–What my soul so long has craved." It was altered, one might assume with Mrs. William’s knowledge and approval, to its present form in the Wesleyan Methodist Hymnal of 1910. Those who have come to Christ and tasted of His goodness know assuredly that all in Him all of our spiritual needs can be "Satisfied."