The Work of Jesus
John 4:31-32, “31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
- John 1, Word becomes flesh, Jesus is introduced, John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb!” John 2-12, Jesus works and words are miraculous, so that in John 4 we get to see Jesus engaging in an ordinary conversation with a woman at the well.
- In the context of John 4 we see that Jesus is tired, the disciples go into town to buy food (vs. 6), and Jesus starts a conversation with a woman who has come to the well to draw water and Jesus says to her, “Go and get your husband.”
- Now, if you are sitting in the pocket of this story there is tension all over the story. The woman at the well says to Jesus, “I don’t have a husband.” Jesus says, “That’s right. You got five husbands, and the guy you’re with right now isn’t your husband.”
It’s a powerful moment, and there is external tension all over the conversation in John 4. First, Jewish men didn’t typically speak to women who were strangers. Second, this woman is a Samaritan woman; historically Samaritans and Jewish people didn’t get along. Like Longhorns and Sooners.
Third, this woman has been through 5 marriages, in a small town, so that socially she had become an outcast, so that we see ethical social tension, religious tension, ethnic tension, and moral tension all over the conversation.
In addition to the external tension, Jesus is pressing into the soul of this women to create internal tension. This is hard to see at first reading, but Jesus is using the watering well as a metaphor for romantic relationships, so that as a person comes to a watering well to get water, so has this woman come to the “well of romantic relationships” and she keeps coming up empty.
Tension flying everywhere, and then Jesus says to this woman at the well, “Come to Me, drink of Me, and you will never thirst again.” Come to Me, drink of Me, I will never hurt you, never leave you, never disappoint you, never let you down, and you will never thirst again.”
That’s the context of John 4, there is tension all through the conversation, and at the end we see (vs. 27) the disciples return, the woman at the well drop her bucket, runs into town (vs. 28), proclaim the miraculous works and word of Jesus to the people in town (vs. 29), and as a result many people in town listen to her, and come looking for Jesus (vs. 30), and in verse 31 the disciples roll up at the end of the conversation, and say, “Rabbi eat.”
John 4:33, “33 So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?”
The disciples are completely confused. The disciples start talking to one another, “Did someone give Jesus a hot pocket? Jesus should be hungry. I get it, Jesus is God in the flesh, but Jesus is still living in a human body, and Jesus should be tired and hungry, and yet Jesus says, “I have food you know not of….verse 32.
This is the focus of John 4. The woman at the well always gets all the headlines, and the conversation with the woman at the well is an amazing story filled with tension, but the focus of John 4 is, “Why isn’t Jesus hungry?”
John 4:34, “34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”
In verse 6 Jesus is hungry. In verses 7-30 Jesus has a conversation with the woman at the well. Verse 32 Jesus isn’t hungry. What happened? Why is Jesus not hungry? Where is Jesus finding sustenance? Verse 34, “My food is doing the will and work of the Father.
Where do we find rest? We take a nap. Where do we find sustenance? We eat food. Those things aren’t wicked. Naps and food are glorious, but in John 4 Jesus is unlocking a supernatural sustenance made available in the will and work of our Heavenly Father.
John 4:35, “35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.”
Now, we don’t typically resonate with agricultural metaphors, because we are city people, but fortunately I am like a modern day farmer that is here to help us this morning. You seen my two bell peppers on Instagram?
The phrase, “Four months, and then comes the harvest” is a timeline, so our harvest is typically in August, so the timeline for verse 35 puts us at March. Does that make sense?
We farmers today typically sow in March, harvest in August, so that in verse 35 Jesus is calling the disciples to lift up their eyes in March, when the land would have been in barren, tilled soil, scattering of seeds, and says, “Spiritually, you don’t have to wait 4 months. It’s harvest time!”
Listen to me, this is an agricultural metaphor for a spiritual reality. The disciples would have considered the woman at the well to be a spiritual wasteland. First, she’s a woman, and in their culture women had little value. Second, she’s a Samaritan, and Samaritans had little value. Third, she’s been through 5 marriages! Fourth, she’s drawing water in the hottest part of the day, (vs. 6), the 6th hour, she’s a social outcast.
Everything externally says, “Too much effort.” Too messy, too difficult, too complicated, and Jesus says to the disciples, “What are you doing? It’s harvest time!”
Therefore, we need to ask ourselves this morning, “Where in my life am I overlooking spiritual sustenance?” Yes, there are things like Netflix, nachos, and naps, but where are we leaning into those things so much that we overlook the spiritual sustenance in the will and work of our Heavenly Father?
Where am I discounting the people in my life? Where am I saying, “Those people are too complicated, too messy, too educated, too wealthy, have lives that are too complicated, or those people will take too much effort?” Jesus says to us this morning, “It’s harvest time!”
John 4:36-38, “36 Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”
Naturally this shouldn’t make any sense. There is no natural seed that is powerful enough for both “sower” and “reaper” to rejoice in the moment, but in the supernatural will and work of our Heavenly Father there are unlimited possibilities. Write that in your notes this morning, “In the will and work of our Heavenly Father there are unlimited possibilities.”
It’s possible we are pushing back a little and saying to ourselves, “But, I have cast some of those spiritual seeds, I have had those conversations, and there have been a lot of times I never see a harvest?” But, Jesus is teaching us, “Don’t worry about the harvest.”
The harvest will come. The tomb is empty. Jesus is going to return. We never know what God will do in a person’s life as we sow spiritual seeds; therefore, the sowing of the seed is just as glorious as the harvest.
It’s not the first seed the woman at the well has received. She is a Samaritan, exposed to the prophets, Moses, and the promise of a Savior, therefore, we have no idea what the Lord might be doing in someone’s life.
In the context of the passage, the disciples were looking at the spiritual context of Samaria, and considered the people a waste of time. The disciples went into town to get groceries, but they didn’t consider the Samaritans likely candidates to respond to Jesus.
The disciples return with groceries, see Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman, and the disciples are amazed that Jesus would be wasting His time (vs. 27). It is because the disciples were totally underestimating the unlimited possibilities of sowing spiritual seeds.
Therefore, we need to ask ourselves this morning, “Where in my life am so caught up in the “getting the groceries” that I am overlooking unlimited opportunities?” Where am I caught up in fighting traffic, meeting deadlines at work, raising children, and walking past supernatural sustenance of spiritual conversations?
John 4:39-42, “39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Isn’t that good? I like how at the end of verse 39, “He told me all thing things that I have done.” She is in a small town, social outcast, I bet people were like, “I bet you did.” Yet the woman at the well says, “Come and see Him.”
I am betting that many of us are thinking to ourselves, “Yes to spiritual sustenance, yes to seeing people” but I am guessing that we have another layer that says, “When I get this area of my life ironed out. When the kids get older, when the house gets cleaned, when the work gets caught up.”
But, that’s not what we see with the woman at the well. How easy it would have been for Jesus to tell the woman, “When you get your romantic life settled, when you go through this class, when you read this book” but instead Jesus says, “Come to me and drink and you will never thirst again.”
We might not have 5 marriages, but we all have metaphorical wells that we have been drinking from, and coming up empty. Have you responded to Jesus? Have you believed in Him? If so, then be encouraged, the harvest is white!