This is the immediate context of John 4:35-38. Beginning at John 4:1, we learn about the encounter between Jesus and the Woman at the Well in Samaria. While Jesus was evangelizing the woman, His Disciples were away. They had gone into the town to buy food. When they returned, they found Jesus talking with the woman. They wisely shut their mouths and said nothing to Jesus… as if that would prevent Him from reading their thoughts. The woman leaves on her evangelistic mission to bring others to Jesus.
It is reasonable to presume that the Disciples had refrained from eating the food they had bought in deference to their Leader. They would have wanted to wait until they could all eat together. So they were hungry, and as they would expect, so was he. It is against this background that we read John 4:31 – “Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” Jesus replies in John 4:32, ““I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Naturally, “Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” (John 4:33) then comes the climactic announcement by Jesus in John 4:34 – ““My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
This begs the question. How obsessed are we in building the Kingdom of God? Here it is Jesus was telling His Disciples that Kingdom-building was not only a source of sustenance for Him, it was more important than physical food for the physical body which he had at that time. Was He saying that physical food is not important? No. Just as on another occasion, He said that rest was very important. In fact to Him, rest was so important that He would sleep when He was tired even though a storm was raging all around Him (Mark 4:38). This message from Jesus was about the central importance of doing His Father’s will, at the center of which was extending His Kingdom by every single person to whom He was sent.
Note that in John 4:34, Jesus separates doing His Father’s will, and finishing the work that He was sent to do. The first is the environment in which He worked, and so should we. It is God’s will that we go and make Disciples of all Nations (Matthew 28:16-20) This translates into sharing the Gospel of Jesus with as many individuals as possible, by any and every means possible. Jesus died before this mission was achieved and that was 2000 years ago. This mission is still not accomplished and clearly indicates that it is not the Will of God that you and I as individuals, are responsible to get all the work done. But we are responsible for completing the specific assignment that God has given us (2 Timothy 4:7-8). And I share the view that once we are still alive, God has more work for us to do. Were this not the case we would be unproductively occupying valuable real estate.
Finally, Jesus emphasized the urgency of our work. The saying about four months to go was used as bait, and a hook. Jesus said, it does not apply. The time to harvest is now! (John 4:35 & John 9:4) And if we need encouragement, reaping is the easy part (John 4:38). But is it less important than sowing? No. This is not doctrine, but think of what happens to fruit that is not reaped in a timely manner. All the labor of the sower is wasted, as the fruit rots and is useless for the purpose it was intended.
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