Summary: Jesus "food" was to do God’s will, He "farmed" God’s "field" and He brings delightful "fellowship" to God’s people.
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. 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. 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." John 4:30-38
Well this passage we are at today is kind of a parenthesis. Before this passage we have seen Jesus speaking with the Samaritan woman who had had 5 husbands and 1 live-in lover. He tells her that if she continues on in her lifestyle she will continually be thirsty, because drinking from the well of one relationship after another doesn’t truly satisfy. And He offers her living water, that is, a relationship with Him, the 7th Man, the Perfect Man, and He would quench her thirst so that she would be satisfied eternally. She understands his offer, drinks of the water of forgiveness and eternal life, leaves her water pot and runs and invites the whole town to come see Jesus.
Then, the passage after this is that the whole town of Samaria comes out to see Jesus, and the whole town believes and invites Jesus to stay with them. So the whole context surrounding today’s passage is, you might call it, a recipe for revival. Take one thirsty person, who is yearning and longing and craving, and add one thirst-quenching, heart-satisfying, life-changing Savior, and you end up with a whole town of revival, a feast fit for a King.
But between these two passages you have this short story of Jesus and His disciples. And I want us to look at this passage today in 3 ways, because there are 3 subjects brought forward in these verses: food, farming and fellowship.
Food: verses 31-34
Farming: verses 35-38
Fellowship: verse 36
So let’s look at the first subject today, that of food: 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.”
While Jesus was speaking with the Samaritan woman, the disciples had gone back into town to get something to eat (verse 8). I guess they didn’t know yet that Jesus could whip up a meal for 5000 with just one prayer, and they were focused on eating so they went into town to buy food. Then they came back and told Jesus He should eat something. They were very interested in physical food, at this point, but Jesus speaks of another kind of food. The food of doing God’s will. This is spiritual food. It’s food for the soul.
And what specifically is the food of doing God’s will? In context it is ministering to people. Jesus went to this Samaritan woman, ministered His grace and truth. He satisfied her and quenched her thirst, and in quenching her thirst He satisfied His own hunger. In ministering to her He, Himself was nourished. You can picture Him ministering to her, giving her grace, loving her heart, setting her free from immorality, and when it was all said and done Jesus goes, “yum, yum, that was delicious.”
And all through His 33 years of life, He fed off of doing God’s will. He ate the food of ministry. He had breakfast one day as He touched a leper and healed him, He ate lunch by opening the eyes of a blind man, He had dinner when He saved the life of a woman caught in adultery. He fed on loving the immoral and healing the crippled, and forgiving people who had done wrong. This was His food, this ministry sustained His life and nourished His soul.
But I want you to pick up on 3 little words in verse 34. “Finish His work…” My food is to “finish His work.” You know what Jesus’ greatest feast was? When He stretched out His arms on the cross, and welcomed a thief into paradise, and prayed for those who murdered Him, and He poured out His life to save us. God "prepared a table before Him, in the presence of His enemies." Yes, He had a feast of ministry on that cross, and when dinner was over He said, “It is finished.” “My food”, said Jesus, is to finish His work.”