How long did it take, especially without her water jar, for the woman to get back to the city gate, and start calling people to meet her in the town square?
How long did that take, her account of having met a prophet, surely the prophet foretold by Moses himself, for he had fulfilled Moses’ own prophecy of telling her absolutely everything about her life?
How long did it take, the questions after, the marvel mounting, the excitement swirling like a tornado among them, lifting their hair, causing them to pant? For mothers and fathers to call to their children, to pound on the doors of those who had not yet come out? Was this Messiah “Tahav,” the Revealer they had been waiting thousands of years for?
It must not have been that long.
In the meantime, perhaps drawing water with the jug the woman had left behind, the disciples must have started spreading out the meal, seeking some touchstone of comfort and normalcy in an otherwise jarring and disturbing day. But, as they urged Jesus to eat, they could see Jesus was watching the road coming out of town.
Imagine Jesus watching the road as the disciples watched him, during that conversation, their agitation as Jesus said, with deep passion,
My food is that I do the will of the One Who sent me, and I would consecrate-fulfil-bring to maturity-accomplish-and-complete [that One’s] labor.John 4:34
Why would Jesus phrase it that way rather than simply teach them about true heart satisfaction?
Food is deeply symbolic for human beings. Food is our sustenance. Food represents our first experience of intense longing answered with full satisfaction. Food brings comfort, joy, a sense of warmth and safety. We celebrate with food, we honor each other with food, we learn about who we are—our family, our clan, our culture, our people—through food.
Jesus had only a few minutes to impart to his talmidim how truly momentous these next few hours would be, and it was a truth Jesus had himself been found perfect in knowing as he fasted to the point of starvation, in the wilderness.
In that dark encounter, Satan had cast doubt on Jesus’ identity.
Are you really the Son of God?
Then why are you on the brink of starvation in a world that is supposedly under your rule?
And does your Father really love you and is he really pleased with you?
He is obviously not providing for your needs, is he?
Since God has abandoned you, and does not seem to care, do you not think you should at least do what it takes to survive?
Jesus must have known in his bones and sinew that he was slowly dying, being at the outermost point of human endurance, to have no food for forty days.
It would not help your ministry to die of hunger, what a waste!
What is it to God if you create for yourself a little bread?
Yet, Jesus had emptied himself to become a man. Jesus had taken on all of the limitations of being a human being. Jesus humbled himself completely before God, trusting God with his every need, just the way you and I are called to do now. If Jesus had used his power to feed himself, he would have taken himself out of God’s provision for him. It would have been elevating himself to become his own provider.
His life hanging in the balance, Jesus pondered the question. Would he accept God’s provision of hunger, with the real risk of death, or would he succumb to his truly crucial need for food, and use his creative power, the power of God’s word, to speak the stones into bread so he could eat.
In that moment Jesus’ perfection was revealed, for the eternal sustenance of God’s potent word rose up from his childhood catechism,
It has been written, “Not on a loaf alone will the person be quickened, but rather upon each-and-every word which comes forth through God’s mouth.”Matthew 4:4
The word “word” in this verse is translated from the Greek “rema” and it has to do with the words of God as revealed in scripture.
Jesus knew he was The Word that was from the beginning. The Logos, the Debar.Yet, in emptying himself to become human, he had humbled himself to live by the words—the wisdom and provision—of God.
And to die by them.
Physical life is not everything. Eternal life is everything, and that is the life that is worth preserving. God’s word is God’s revealed purpose. God’s word went out in Genesis to create the cosmos according to God’s wise and good purposes. The creative Word must be connected with God’s will and design.
Now the disciples needed to know where true satisfaction in life comes from.
Food satisfies our physical hunger. In the same way, the food of God gives us meaning in life, satisfying our spiritual hunger.
Food strengthens the body. In the same way, the food of God strengthens us. spiritually. Doing God’s will strengthens us for doing the greater things God has for us to do.
Food supplies enjoyment, and doing God’s will brings spiritual enjoyment.
Food nourishes, keeping us healthy, and protecting us from getting sick. In the same way, the food of God also keeps us healthy spiritually.
Food is necessary, we eat every day. So it is with God’s will. Doing God’s will is necessary when you and I have been born anew from above, for God dwells within us, and every day you and I need to be in God’s will to receive nourishment, strength, enjoyment, and health.
Doing God’s will is not about doing general good works. This is about knowing and doing what God has in mind for you and me, personally.
In that hour when the town of Sychar began to sparkle in the dazzling hot sun of Samaria, Jesus showed his young disciples the people coming towards them and said the disciples’ satisfaction would come from doing the work God was presenting to them, reaping the harvest in front of them.
I think, as Jesus nodded his head towards the people coming down the road, he was saying, look guys, that field walking towards us is ready.
Now is the time.
When the opportunity presents itself, regardless of what our personal agenda might have been, that is the time to take that opportunity and do the most with it.
We never know how much time we truly have.
The disciples had just been in Sychar buying food. They had had plenty of opportunity to let the townspeople know the Lord Jesus, Messiah, Who had been performing many signs and miracles in Jerusalem, was just right outside of town by Jacob’s well, come and see.
But they did not.
Decades later, as he ruminated on this iconic story, John made it clear it was the woman who had testified about Jesus, and the whole town was her harvest, not the disciples.’
Oh yes, they would reap the harvest.
But she was the sower
Now Jesus would rejoice with this woman as her entire town came out to meet Him.
The disciples had food for Jesus, but Jesus had food for the Samaritans, and he was teaching his talmidim to reach beyond their little group to the world around them, recognizing and feeding those who were so hungry spiritually.
True satisfaction is found in doing God’s will
All the disciples had to do was reorient their thoughts as they looked at those Samaritans headed towards them.
Who do you and I need to reorient our thoughts about?
[Sour dough bread | publicdomainpictures.net]