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.” (John 4:31-32, ESV)
Now the disciples are getting to know Jesus. They were around when he cleaned out the temple, they may have been around to overhear Jesus talking with Nicodemus, they know that sometimes Jesus speaks a little funny. They also know that they just saw him talking to a Samaritan woman which was a very socially unacceptable situation. They also know he is hungry and tired.
Right now they see that he needs something to eat. They knew how hungry they were when they went into town, they know how tired he was when they left him by the well, so they imagine that his number one priority right now is to get something to eat. Jesus, you’re hungry, eat.
They don’t see a man on a mission to save the world, all they see is a hungry and tired teacher. They miss the reality of who Jesus is. They won’t get it until later, much later.
So then they start to look around and see if someone has taken their spot of getting Jesus lunch?
So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?”(John 4:33, ESV)
They see themselves as providers for Jesus, they don’t get that ultimately He is the one who is going to provide for them. They imagine that someone else has brought a party tray by and fed the master. Perhaps they become indignant. It was their job to go into town and buy lunch. Great, now they have too much lunch.
Jesus lets them wrestle with the issue long enough and then fills them in on what he really means when he says, “I have food that you don’t know about.” They need to know that they ultimately do not provide for Jesus, but that Jesus provides for the whole world. They need to see what really drives their master, beyond human appetite. Beyond the desire to have a full stomach, Jesus desires to obey they father. This is worship.
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. (John 4:34, ESV)
He challenges his disciples to see past hungry stomachs and see hungry souls, to look beyond the physical reality of a hungry tummy to see that true worship is a heart rightly submitted to God. What fuels Jesus? The disciples must learn here that food is for the body, but worship is for the soul. Jesus is seeing past the physical into the spiritual. If the disciples are ever to be like him they must come to a place where they desire God’s will to be done more than they desire their daily bread. Indeed later Jesus will teach them to pray to the father and before daily bread comes the request that God’s will would be done.
Now like the Samaritan woman before them, he presses his disciples to see all the people coming out of the city. See them with spiritual eyes. They walked into the city to get food, never once did it cross their minds to see the great spiritual need, but now they see it as the whole city comes out to the well.
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. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 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.” Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. 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.” (John 4:35-42, ESV)
It was a common saying in the day of Jesus to say, “there are four months till harvest.” It was a way of saying, “relax,” don’t worry, don’t be in such a hurry, there isn’t anything you can do right now. Our modern saying is something like this, “Good things come to those who wait.” Here Jesus is saying the opposite. He is saying, “look! You didn’t plant anything and now there is a harvest field.” You didn’t tell anybody in the city about me and now the whole city is coming out to meet me.
I can’t help but be reminded of one of our Wednesday nights a few months ago. I was running around trying to get everything set up. I’m a firm believer that service is more caught than taught and so I set out all the chairs, place connect cards and pens in the seats, open the student center, help count out the cash box, etc. I also speak.
One of our girls was talking about her life. Something told me that I needed to sit down with the band who was already engaged in talking with her. She had several great questions and we listened and prayed with her and then it struck me that God was really dealing with her heart. Long story short she prayed to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior. What was really interesting about the situation thought was that while she was praying, I was thinking, “you have this all backwards. I haven’t even spoken yet. I’m supposed to preach and then people are supposed to respond.”
The truth of the matter is, it rarely ever works out that way. Sure people may respond after a sermon, but most often times someone has been there before. A praying parent or spouse, a concerned youth worker or Life group leader. I may be the one that someone prays with, but seldom do I sow the first seed.