John 4:31-42

Henry Mahan

The disciples had gone into the city to buy food and had returned to Jacob's well to find the Master engaged in conversation with a woman of Samaria. They had marveled at this for she was not only a Samaritan but a known adultress. None of them asked Him any questions. But now the conversation was over; she had left in great joy to tell others about the Redeemer, to try to bring them to see and hear Christ themselves, While she was gone and before the Samaritans came out to the well, Christ was left alone with His disciples.

(Vs. 31) The disciples knew that He had been weary and hungry when they left him at the well a few hours ago; so now that they had food, they encouraged Him to eat something.

(Vs. 32) The Master replied, "I have food to eat which you do not know about." He had been feeding upon this food all the time that they had been away, and He explains it in Verse 34.

(Vs. 33) They began to look at one another and ask, "Did someone bring him food to the well while we were away?"

(Vs. 34) Our Lord, without any rebuke for their dullness in understanding (Psalm 103:13-14), explained to them that His food and drink was to do the will of His Father and to finish the work the Father had given Him to do. The will of the Father and the redemption of His sheep so occupied Him, so filled His soul, so satisfied Him, that it outweighed His natural hunger and made Him forget natural food.

(Vs. 35) There was in those countries usually about four months between seedtime and harvest. This may be true of wheat and barley but not in spiritual matters. Everyday is seed-time, watering time, and harvest time. The Master had but just spoken to this woman; now she rejoiced in Him, and others were on their way there to receive Him. Lift up your eyes and behold the people of all nations and tribes who are ready to hear and believe. The seed has been sown by the prophets of old, by the Word of the Lord, and by John the Baptist. We alone ARE NOT the sowers and the reapers, although we may do both.

(Vs. 36) In the kingdom of Christ the sowers and the reapers are all one (I Cor. 3:5-9). The prophets, the writers of Scripture, the apostles, the reformers, all who sowed the seed of the gospel, and we who reap the fruit shall have the same reward and rejoice together in His glory and eternal life.

(Vs. 37) This was a proverb commonly used with reference to those who unjustly enjoyed the fruits of other men's labors by reaping what they did not sow (Joshua 24:13). But in our Lord's kingdom there is no such attitude, for there is no competition among believers. It is our Lord's vineyard, and we do what we do for His glory!

(Vs. 38) Yet there is a sense in which this was true of the disciples and is true of us today. We enter in on the labors of all who have gone before us; without their faithfulness there would be no harvest (Acts 8:5).

(Vs. 39) The woman had gone into the city and told people about Jesus Christ, Whom she had met at the well. "He told me all that ever I did. He told me things that ONLY GOD KNOWS." And as a result of her testimony, many believed.

(Vs. 40-41) So when they came out to see Him, they asked Him to abide with them; and He stayed there two days. The Master Himself abode among them for two days, preaching the gospel of His grace and revealing to them His glory; and MANY believed because of His Word. We do not read of any miracles that He performed among them (though He may have), but they BELIEVED HIS WORD!

(Vs. 42) There may be a progression of faith taught here. Certainly they did believe the woman's testimony. God used her to tell them about Christ and to encourage them to "come and see." But after coming to Him and hearing His own words, they believed more fully and strongly, so as to say to the woman, "We have heard Him ourselves and know that He is indeed the Messiah and Redeemer of people of all nations." Faith grows. The object of saving faith is Christ, and the very foundation of faith is His Word. The more of the Word, the stronger the faith.

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.