John 4:31-34 (NIV) 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
On verses 31-34: I could see the disciples coming to Jesus with food already in their mouths and casually inviting Jesus to eat something (v31). Yet Jesus’ response confuses them (v32-33). When Jesus says, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (v34), what does he mean? Jesus means that what drives him, satisfies him and empowers his life is doing his Father’s will and completing the assignment he has been given. Jesus would say something related in Matthew 4 in the desert: “Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) Take John 4:34 and Matthew 4:4 together and we get a powerful truth: Jesus fed on two things – meditating on God’s Word and doing God’s work.
Likewise,you were made with more than just a physical appetite.You were made with an appetite to know God and to fulfill the purpose He has for you. Until you are feeding on God’s Word and doing God’s will for your life, you will never be satisfied. Like Jesus, may doing the will of the One who placed you on this earth be what drives your life every day.
John 4:35-37 (NIV) 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true.
On verses 35-37: “Four months more and then the harvest” (v35) may have been a common saying in Jesus’ time. People in Jesus’ day may have even used that saying whenever they wanted to take it easy or have an excuse for being lazy. But Jesus combats that mentality by saying that even now the fields “are ripe for harvest” (v35). What harvest is Jesus referring to? Jesus is referring not to physical crops, but “the crop for eternal life” (v36), that is, the saving of human souls. In other words, according to Jesus, even now – today – is a day when people are ripe for salvation, ripe to experience God. Jesus saw this first-hand: while the disciples went shopping for food, Jesus was busy reaching out to a Samaritan woman and leading her to salvation. Jesus encourages his disciples, including you and me, to have the same kind of urgency when it comes to winning souls. Don’t give yourself excuses like “It’s not my time yet”, “I don’t know enough” or “The people aren’t open or ready”. Like Jesus, see the fields of people in front of you as ready and ripe for something greater that Jesus can give. Then you will go to them and reach people among them with faith that will change their lives.
John 4:38 (NIV) 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
On verse 38: What does Jesus mean by this sentence? Jesus is referring to how privileged his disciples were to be living in this time in history. In previous centuries godly men and women worked hard to sow the Word of God into people’s hearts and to point people to the Messiah, but they did not get to see the Messiah personally. Now the disciples were getting to be with the Messiah every day, to witness his amazing work in person and to point others to him. They were reaping a harvest that others before them had worked for. As Jesus says elsewhere, “For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:17).
In addition, this sentence is a reminder that all of us have received benefits that we ourselves did not work for but that Jesus Christ worked for. Jesus Christ did the hard work of going to the cross and paying for our sins. We are the beneficiaries of Christ’s hard labour, reaping the forgiveness, righteousness and salvation that we did not earn.
John 4:39 (NIV) 39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. 42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
On verses 39-42: The woman at the well encouraged people in her town to go and listen to Jesus for themselves. Based on her encouragement, the Samaritans go to hear Jesus and come to believe that he is the Messiah too. Don’t just listen to other people talk about how they experienced Jesus. Go to Jesus and experience Him yourself.
Jesus, I declare that, like You, my food is the Word of God and the work that God sent me to do. Your Word and Your work satisfy me in ways the world cannot. Today may I see the people around me as ripe for harvest, as needing You, whether they know it or not. Help me to know the key to their hearts and help me to show them that You are the answer to their deepest longings. Thank You that today I am the recipient of so many blessings that I did not work for but that You worked for to give me. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!