We all need to eat…but, it must be the right thing, at the right time and the right portion. In relationship to spiritual principles, it is not any different. Jesus says that we need to feed on the message of the Lord and not empty substitutes. We can starve spiritually, just as it is physically possible. Jesus shifts analogies from living water in John 4:31-38 to food that sustains. It is interesting that He relates concerning the two basic staples that we need in order to survive…food and water, and makes a spiritual/eternal application, as well. Like Jesus, if we are seeking to do the Father’s will, He will “feed” us spiritually and we will be richly blessed. The old saying is that “we reap what we sow.” This applies whether we are dealing with physical concerns or spiritual.
The disciples approach Jesus with concern that He has not eaten. To their thinking, their Teacher may have been spending too much time teaching and needed to have a meal. The disciples had gone to the town in order to get some food, so when they return their encouragement to Jesus is -- eat. He gives them a message in return, which they do not understand (v.32)…which is not too unusual. :-) When Jesus says “I have food to eat that you do not know about,” the disciples are thinking that he is talking about physical food…that he has stashed a candy bar somewhere or something, but Jesus has a deeper meaning. Now, He more fully explains His kind of food. His is not physical food…but doing the will of His Father, spiritually. Jesus tells about this food so that the disciples and others will understand that He is talking about reliance upon God’s Word. He is willing to break the Bread of Life to the crowd before alleviating His own physical hunger.
Jesus now notices the crowd coming out of the city as the result of the woman sharing her message concerning Him. Once again, this is truly remarkable in many respects when we consider just how little this Samaritan woman knew about Jesus. Yet, she was just willing to tell what she knew…a good example for all to follow. We don’t have to be scholars to evangelize, just opportunistic to tell others about our Friend and Savior. Her response has now triggered an opportunity for all to meet and Jesus and be converted…very cool.
Jesus is likely pointing toward the coming crowd when He quotes a familiar proverb about waiting for harvest (v.35). The disciples, it is apparent, missed an opportunity for harvest when they went into the city; they have done no evangelizing. Having only been looking for physical food, they neglected to let others know about spiritual food that could be theirs just outside of town. The woman has effectively taken their place in sharing the Good News! The “harvest is plentiful” and her response provides a time for harvest. The disciples are to pick up others’ labors…in this situation, they are to follow up the Samaritan woman’s work. It appears that others also may have labored in sharing the Word in Samaria, but we do not know who they are(?). The disciples are to water the planted seed of the woman and others, just as Paul talks about his work with Apollos in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9…and God will provide the increase. Jesus goes on to tell that there is a reward in this -- others’ souls will be saved. This is a joy in which sowers and reapers rejoice! Everyone would soon participate in the harvest – Jesus, the Samaritan woman, the disciples and those who may have first planted at some point.
We see in the story that the disciples missed some opportunities to share. We need to be aware of the doors that the Lord opens up to us so that we can share the Word. We may even be at the grocery store as the disciples were when the Lord opens a door for us...we never know(?). We need to be patient and wait on Him, because he will provide, but we must be spiritually alert. Understand that the will of God is -- that the harvest is ready to be done…and he can use you and me in the process. We can’t provide the growth, but we certainly can do our part in being faithful to work. We don’t have to be experts…just tell what we know about Who we know, just as did the Samaritan woman. We may have opportunities to provide not only physical food, but spiritual food to someone. Consider. One final thought – Sow a thought…reap an act; sow an act…reap a habit; sow a habit…reap a character; sow a character…reap a destiny. It all works together. It is our choice. Blessings,