Scripture: Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.
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.” 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. 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.” John 4:27-38 ESV
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Observation: Recapping Yesterday’s Daily Focus, Jesus interacts with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, asking her to draw a drink for him. Ignoring her impertinent response, Jesus informs her that he would have given her living water that springs to eternal life if she had asked. So she asks for this living water hoping never to thirst again. Wrapping up the conversation, Jesus tells her to go and call her husband to come. Humbled, she confesses she has no husband, and Jesus adds that the woman has had five husbands and is unmarried to her present partner. Acknowledging that Jesus is a prophet, she questions why his fellow Jews claim exclusive rights to worship God in Jerusalem when their patriarchs worshipped him on this mountain. Jesus clarifies the era of worshipping God in a physical location is ending. Being a spiritual Father, he seeks those who worship him in “spirit and truth.” Stirred by his response, the woman acknowledges that the coming Messiah will “tell all things.” Jesus then reveals that he is the Messiah.
Today’s devotion continues with Jesus’ disciples returning to the well from the village (having bought food). They are shocked that he would have talked to a Samaritan Woman (see yesterday’s Daily Focus). As they approach, the woman hurriedly returns to Sychar, leaving her water jar behind. Excited, she urges her fellow townspeople to come and see a man who may be the Christ, for he knew everything about her. Intrigued, they set out with the woman to the well.
Back at the well, Jesus’ disciples implore him to eat something, but Jesus replies that they do not yet know his source of sustenance (referring to spiritual refreshment through doing the Father’s work). Jesus then clarifies by the analogy of harvest time that this is the anointed season to gather the crops ripe for eternal life (i.e., those ready to follow the long-anticipated Messiah). He adds that each kingdom laborer has a role to play. Some will sow, and others will reap, but all will rejoice together. And while he has commissioned his disciples to reap, they must not forget they benefit from the faithful toil of previous generations of kingdom laborers.
Takeaway: Just as in Judea, Samaritans discounted women’s testimonies, particularly that from a woman of ill repute. That the men of Sychar listened to her report and decided to investigate demonstrates the sincerity of the woman’s testimony but, more importantly, the work of the Holy Spirit. So with the crowd approaching Jesus and his disciples, he seizes the moment to instruct them regarding evangelism. Below are four implicit concepts from our text.
First, it’s a process in which we play our part. While it is exciting to help someone come to faith, we need to exercise humility and gratitude. Regarding humility, we must remember that we only do our duty as servants of Christ (Luke 17:10). Thus, rather than competing with others to bring people to faith, we should celebrate each others’ successes. John the Baptist invested all his adult life in preparing the way for Jesus to harvest repentant souls, and Christ’s disciples will soon reap the benefit of his faithful service to his Father.
Secondly, the woman’s sincere testimony regarding how Jesus knows everything about her sparked curiosity among her neighbors for more information. Similarly, sharing how believing in Jesus is life-changing to us makes our message personal and powerful.
Thirdly, just as Jesus invited his first disciples to “come and see” (1:39), and Philip invited Nathanael to “come and see” (1:46), so the woman urged her townspeople to “come and see” (4:29). Seekers want to see Jesus; we are merely the window dressing that reveals to others the spirit of Jesus in us.
Lastly, it doesn’t matter what other people think about us. Our history is history. Our ethnicity and social standing are not barriers but assets that make our story unique and accessible to those of similar backgrounds. And, like the woman of ill repute, when God works in and through us, our Gospel message will even overcome the biases and prejudices of those he brings across our path. Indeed, as Paul tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 ESV).
In sum, our Gospel is personal and universal, unique and unifying, and either compels or repels. So remember, the result is not ours. We humbly do our part and invite people to come and see Jesus, who knows everything about us and has lovingly (Romans 5:8) and joyfully (Hebrews 12:2) died for us. And we celebrate as a team.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son who, along with you, knows everything about us and yet lovingly and joyfully died for us. And we thank you for the privilege of sharing this good news by inviting people to come and see your Son in us. So would you please help us to humbly do our part, whether planting seeds, watering, or harvesting, while entrusting the outcome to you and celebrating successes as a team? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling