John 4:30 – They went out of the town and were coming to him.
In our last post we were informed that the Samaritan woman left her water pot at the well and hastily went into town. She went for the express purpose of informing her fellow citizens that she may have discovered the long awaited Messiah.
Her testimony of Jesus must have been very convincing indeed, for we find that the citizens of Samaria paused right in the middle of a work day, and went to the well to check out her story.
As this verse indicates, they were ‘coming’ or on the way to see Jesus, but had not yet arrived. The conversation between Jesus and his disciples in verses 31-38 takes place before the Samaritans actually arrive.
Let’s take this opportunity to comment on the ‘mission field’ of this woman. Where did she go to share her discovery of the Messiah? That’s right – her own home town; her own neighbors and friends. She shared the good news with the people that knew her faults and mistakes. Many of them probably knew her history and had met several of her husbands. Because they knew her and saw her excitement, they were willing to come and hear Jesus for themselves; she was a convincing witness because they already knew her.
We too, should consider our own friends, neighbors and cities as our primary mission fields. While God does call some people into full time mission work in foreign lands, the number is relatively small. Most of us are called to reach those in our own circle of influence. Let’s start sharing the gospel there, and see how God uses us. If he needs us to go to a foreign country, he will let us know.
John 4:31-32 – Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
For their part, the disciples have no idea what is going on. They are all hungry and tired. They are concerned about the well-being of their teacher, who seemed too tired to go into town with them. They return with provisions only to find Jesus actually (gasp!) speaking to a Samaritan woman in public!
Unsure of what to do, they keep silent and wait to see what would happen. The woman left almost immediately and the disciples see this as their chance to refresh Jesus with food and water. Their actions were completely natural.
But as they offer Jesus some much needed food, he surprises them again by saying ‘I have food you know nothing about’.
John 4:33-34 – So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.”
In keeping with their worldly outlook, the disciples are sure that Jesus is talking about physical food. Although they can’t imagine who would have done it, they are sure that somebody had fed Jesus.
But just as he did with the Samaritan woman, Jesus turns their eyes from the natural realm to the spiritual.
The great design of Jesus’ life was to do the will of God. There can be no doubt that he arrived at the well physically fatigued, thirsty and hungry. But when the opportunity to save even one lost soul opened up, he embraced it with his entire being. It absorbed all of his attention, making him forget his weariness and fleshly desires.
Jesus makes it very clear that doing the will of God and accomplishing his work should be our main objectives in life.
Is it possible that we have lost sight of this? For the most part, we devote a lot of time, energy and money to avoiding any semblance of fatigue, hardship or discomfort. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the comforts of this life, as long as they are kept in the right perspective.
What priority does the avoidance of discomfort take in our lives? Is our main consideration to seek a steady supply of our wants/desires? What are we willing to sacrifice to see a move of God – some meals, some social media time, an hour of sleep?
Furthermore, Jesus didn’t just begin the work that God ordained for him, he completed it. His last words were, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). The apostle Paul was also confident that he had accomplished God’s will for his life. He said to Timothy, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7).
Are we living our lives with the same goal in mind? Or have we been side tracked by the pleasures of this world? Is it possible that God has called you or me to a work that we joyfully began, but then we walked away when the going got tough (or when the discomfort set in)?
Jesus should be our model in this area. He was so absorbed in doing the will of God that he forgot everything else. As he earnestly did the will of God, he rose above all hardship, bearing it with pleasure if it meant doing the will of God. He was completely focused on his spiritual/eternal mission, and earthly things took second place.
John 4:35 – Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”
We have already seen that Jesus exhibits an intense desire to bring men to God. He is so intently focused on his mission that he forgets about his hunger, his thirst and his fatigue.
He is now attempting to stir up a fervent desire in his disciples for the same thing.
As he often does, Jesus begins with an example in the natural realm, which helps explain a spiritual principle. In this case, he reminds the disciples of some common knowledge: you can expect a harvest after a fourth month wait.
In other words, the farmer who plants corn does not expect to harvest it immediately. He expects to sweat and labor today knowing that he will not reap his harvest for about 120 days. In the natural, it takes time for the seed to sprout, take root, grow to maturity and produce fruit.
But in the spiritual realm, the seed of the gospel message produces immediate results. Jesus shared the gospel message with the Samaritan woman a short time before the disciples returned. The message that was planted in her life has already sprouted and taken root. Already it is producing a harvest – not only does she believe, but she is bringing many more souls to Christ from her village. Unlike a crop in the natural realm, it took only a matter of minutes for the gospel to produce a spiritual harvest.
If the disciples will look around with their spiritual eyes, they will see that there are entire ‘fields’ of sinners with fertile hearts that are ready to accept the good news of the gospel (John the Baptist had prepared the hearts of many to accept Christ, Luke 1:17).
They will be ripe for ‘harvesting’ for the kingdom of heaven almost immediately (the Samaritans are a good example of this). But if the disciples are not focused on this spiritual harvest, they will miss their opportunity to both plant/sow and harvest/reap.
Eventually, after Holy Spirit empowers them during Pentecost, they will not only sow the gospel message to the Jews in Jerusalem, but the message will be carried to Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world; souls will be harvested for the kingdom in every Gentile nation (Acts 1:8).
We too should take every opportunity to sow and harvest in the kingdom. We need to ‘lift up our eyes’ or focus our attention on spreading the gospel message and bringing souls to Christ.
John 4:36 – “Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.”
Jesus is the Lord of the harvest and he is the perfect example of sowing and reaping. He sowed the gospel message into the life of the Samaritan woman and reaped a harvest of souls before the day was over!
Jesus invites us to participate in his work. He recruits and equips people to sow the seed of the gospel message into the lives of sinners. He sends Holy Spirit to empower that seed to come to life. He also recruits and equips people to harvest souls – to assist sinners in making a decision for Christ. Obviously, the harvest is a team effort that requires planters, harvesters and Holy Spirit. Because we all have the same goal (to win souls to Christ) we can all rejoice together.
This truth should eliminate much of the envy and strife in religious circles. When a ministry eclipses ours, or the church in the next city experiences a big influx of people, we should not be jealous. We should always rejoice when the kingdom of heaven is expanding on planet earth. Paul puts it this way:
1 Corinthians 3:6-8 – I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that plants anything, neither he that waters; but God that gives the increase. Now he that plants and he that waters are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.
Did you notice that Jesus says the laborers in his kingdom receive wages? Paul says those who labor in the kingdom receive a reward. Either way it is evident that God will compensate those who choose to work for him.
Stop and consider that for a second…. God calls us and equips us to share in the labor of his kingdom. But that labor would be in vain if Holy Spirit did not make the gospel come alive in the life of a sinner. Once Holy Spirit does his work, we can then reap that soul for the kingdom. So God not only calls us, but he makes us successful and then rewards us for our success! It’s really astonishing, if you think about it! God is so good to us!
John 4:37-38 – “For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
If the disciples were reaping a harvest, then someone before them had to have planted the seed. Who would that have been?
One example would be the prophets of old, who constantly sowed the laws of God and the promise of the Messiah into the lives of the Israelites. During their darkest days, God still gave the prophets words of encouragement and hope for his people. God constantly spoke of the coming Redeemer, who would save and bless Israel.
But it was more than just the prophets. Public ministers, like John the Baptist sowed the seeds of repentance into the lives of multitudes, but he did not actually harvest those souls. Jesus and/or the disciples did.
But there is an even better example. Every Israelite parent sowed the promises of God’s covenant into the lives of their children. They were admonished to keep the promises of God alive in the hearts and minds of their offspring (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). They kept the promise of the Messiah alive in every generation of Israel.
The disciples were able to reap a harvest of souls because earlier generations of Israelites had sown plenty of spiritual seeds into the children of their nation. Thus, the disciples were reaping a harvest that they themselves did not plant; they ‘entered into the labor’ of others.
This is such good information for all Christian parents. Just like the Israelites, it is our job to sow the word of God into the lives of our children and grandchildren. And there are different ways of sowing:
- We plant some seeds by what we say (or don’t say).
- We plant seeds by the way we act and treat others.
- The way we choose to spend our money sows yet another type of seed into our children.
- We plant seeds in our children when we live by faith.
- We plant seeds when we actively read/honor the Holy Scriptures and pray.
What seeds are you planting in your family?
John 4:39 – Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”
Are you aware of just how powerful your personal testimony can be? The scripture plainly says that MANY people came to Christ because of the testimony of this one woman!
You don’t need a degree in theology or a pastoral license to share the good news of what Christ has done in your own personal situation. Just connect with hurting people, and be real. A true, heart-felt experience is much more powerful and persuasive than facts recited from intellectual knowledge. Your testimony can bring others into the kingdom!
John 4:40-41 – So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And may more believed because of his word.
Based on what we know of the relationship between Jews and Samaritans, this is shocking news! It was unheard of for the Samaritans to invite a Jew into their midst, and sit under his teaching. Likewise, it was unprecedented for a Jews to accept an offer such as this! But with God all things are possible (Mark 10:27). Barriers that divide people simply melt away under the influence of God and his love. I’d love to know what truths Jesus revealed to that group of people who were despised by the world!
John 4:42 – They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
The point here is that as the Samaritans listened to Jesus, their faith develops and grows to a point where they are fully convinced that he is the Messiah. Their faith is based on the word of God, not solely the testimony of the woman.
The Samaritans have come to believe that Jesus is not just a prophet, and not just the Savior of the Jews, but the Savior of the whole world.
Let me offer you some encouragement:
Remember, the mission field of the Samaritan woman was the people in her own town; the people she saw and interacted with every day. For most of us, that will be our mission field too.
How are you stewarding your mission field? I encourage you to actively look for ways to introduce Jesus and/or your testimony into every day conversations with people you know. You might be surprised at the results you get.
Let me offer you some relief:
The scriptures tell us that ‘many’ Samaritans listened and believed the testimony of the woman at the well. By default, this means that some people did not believe. But that wasn’t the problem of the woman. Her job was simply to share her testimony.
Likewise, when you share your testimony, there will be people who reject the message. But let me offer you some relief: That isn’t your problem. You just be faithful to share the truth and rely on Holy Spirit to ripen that seed into a harvest!
Let me offer you some strength:
Jesus not only began the work his Father assigned him, he finished it. Obviously, we want to do the same thing. All of us want to stand before Jesus and hear him say, ‘Well done good and faithful servant’.
Finishing your race well may seem like a difficult assignment, but let me offer you some strength: Just live one day at a time. Today, spend time in prayer with the Lord. Today, ask Holy Spirit to lead you to a hurting soul. Today, plant some gospel seeds into the life of a sinner. If we live for Christ one day at a time, it will add up to a life well lived.