Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Mysterious Food and the Harvest

We move now from the Samaritan woman – who has gone back into town telling people about Jesus – to a private conversation between Jesus and His disciples. The disciples had gone into town in order to buy food and now are asking Jesus to eat – they had seen that Jesus was tired, and they are concerned for His well-being. But

(v32) He said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about."

So Jesus introduces this Mysterious Food – and let’s look at two aspects of this food

I. The Source of this Foood
II. The Superiority of this Food

I. The Source of this Food

We see in verse 33 the disciples are a bit confused about this statement that Jesus makes – for as you remember, Samaritans and Jews didn’t get along well, and they were thinking – no one here would have given Him anything to eat, would they? They saw that Jesus no longer needed their food, but they couldn’t figure out why.

The disciples, as is normal for all of us, were thinking first about the physical, temporal things – but Jesus was speaking of this mysterious food that they have yet to learn about.

Where does this food come from? Where does it not come from?

(v32) He said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about."

This food does not come from the world – the world doesn’t even know about it– nor can the world provide it.

(v34) Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work."

Jesus’ food has its source, not in the things of this earth, but rather in doing the will and accomplishing the work of the One who sent Him – it is a food that comes from God – the source of all good things.

Jesus has been sent, though the Son of God, He has been sent, humbling Himself, becoming a servant, doing the will and accomplishing the work of God the Father, the One who sent Him.

So what was the will of God? What was this work of God that Jesus was accomplishing?

John 6:38-39
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

The will of God was that Jesus save those whom God had given to Jesus – and the work of God, the work that God had already done was appoint those who were given to Jesus – appointing them unto salvation (1 Thess. 5:9) – and Jesus was accomplishing that work – finishing that work by saving those given to Him by God through His life and death and resurrection.

This is the food of Jesus – The life-blood, the thing that kept Jesus going, the reason Jesus woke up every morning – The food of Jesus: to do the will and accomplish the work of God – for in doing this, He is revitalized by God.

Men live to eat and drink – read and study, to work or play – some even live to pray and minister – but not Jesus.

And this moves us into our next thought.

II. The Superiority of this Food

If someone really smart or someone skilled in something says, “I do it this way” normally we try to do as they do, because it’s a better way – they know more than we do, so we follow.

And so I present to you this morning – Jesus Christ, the Man-God, all-knowing, all-powerful saying, “MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE”

We work and grow tired – we labor and want a vacation – but Jesus, who at the beginning of this story was wearied by His journey, stopping by a well to rest – He works, ministering to the Samaritan woman and now refuses the nourishment that His disciples offer Him, because He is refreshed and renewed.

This food that Jesus has is better than ours – for we eat and then grow hungry, and if we don’t eat we become weary, we live limited, and wanting – but this food overcomes all this – this food is better than any other food –

"Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary."
(Isaiah 40:30-31)

This food is superior simply in the fact that it is from God – it is food for those who God has sent, and in doing the will and work of God – in expending their lives for God, this work becomes true food, true strength and true renewal of body and spirit. You will know if you are doing the work of God if you are fed by it – “when toiling in the fields of heaven one needs no other refreshment.”


"Do you not say, `There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.
(John 4:35)

As I was studying this past week and I came to this point in the text – Jesus flips right from talking about food to talking about the harvest – and I kept asking myself, “Why does Jesus talk about these things together, without really any transition? He talking, and He goes food food food, harvest!”

But I think there is a very good reason, and sheds even more light onto this lesson that Jesus was teaching to His disciples. So let’s look into this:

Jesus had just finished speaking with the Samaritan woman when the disciples came up – then she goes into town and starts telling people about Jesus – and while the woman is doing this, Jesus is speaking to His disciples – but what of the people that the woman has been talking to – what are they doing? They are on their way to see Jesus – and they come up to Him later on in this chapter, in verse 40 – so picture this in your mind: as Jesus is explaining to His disciples that, rather than their food being the most important thing, there is something superior to the food they are offering, then Jesus says – “You say there is about four months until harvest, but I say – Take a look right now! The fields are ready for harvest right now!” The disciples might have wondered what Jesus meant, because there truly were still four months until harvest, although the farmer’s fields had been planted, they were still green and not ready to be harvested. But in a few moments, if the disciples had not understood what Jesus said they would have – for right when Jesus finishes speaking the group of Samaritans that had been told of Jesus by the woman arrive to speak with Jesus, they were the field that was ready for harvesting – this was the work that Jesus came to do, to save men, this is the food that He was talking about – Jesus was here to do the will and accomplish the work of God and here were some of those appointed unto salvation by God, ready to be harvested, ready to be saved.

Now let’s look at three things in regard to this heavenly harvest

I. The Reward of the harvest

II. The Rejoicing in the harvest

III. The Reminder during the harvest

I. The Reward of the Harvest

Jesus was gladly willing to forfeit earthly food in order to work in this harvest – because in working this harvest there was greater reward!

Jesus was already received wages, benefits from working in the field of Samaria – He was receiving joy, that would last forever, and was gathering fruit for life eternal, meaning that people were being saved.

This is the lesson – it is better to give than to receive – because God is a rewarder of those who serve Him, of those who earnestly seek Him

And Jesus was receiving this reward but He is not the only one rejoicing over the harvest.

II. The Rejoicing in the Harvest

There are two parties involved - the ones who sowed the seed and the ones who reaped the fruit.

Jesus didn’t have to explain who the messiah was to the Samaritan woman, she knew about Him already.

And so Jesus says: "in this case the saying is true, `One sows and another reaps.'
(John 4:37)

The harvest that was taking place in Samaria was taking place based on the prior work of God’s servants. Others had sown seed and had not seen the results, but now the result of that sowing was coming in, through Jesus and both Jesus and those who had sown the seeds can rejoice together – for all their labor has resulted in salvation.

III. The Reminder During the Harvest

Then Jesus directs His attention to His disciples and in this I believe Jesus is referring to ministry that He had sent the disciples to do, either baptizing, or possibly when He had sent them to go into different cities and preach the good news:

(v38) Jesus says that He sent His disciples to reap that for which they had not labored – others have labored and you [the disciples] have entered their labor – “Their labor”, the word labor here tells of a toil to the point of exhaustion, long pains, troubles.

The disciples were probably elated that their going out had resulted in so much fruit, as are everyone when they lead a soul to the Lord, but Jesus here is reminding them, that they are reaping from a field in which they have not toiled long in, that they have not troubled and pained long years in that field. It is a call to humility, lest we boast and think our ways are higher than others, as Paul re-states:

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth."
(1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
In the harvest, be reminded – you were sent, and praise God for the growth.

And then The Living Example of the Harvest

(v39-42) From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, "He told me all the things that I have done." So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world."
(John 4:39-42)

What a joyful thing to see such a harvest – and in such an unlikely field, beginning with such an unlikely sinner.

I want to close with this last thought.

As I was reading this passage, I was thinking about my own ministry. I am living in Cambodia – and how different this nation is than the nation of Israel during the time of Jesus.

Jesus tells His disciples: "I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor."
(John 4:38)

Israel had thousands of years of priming for the Gospel, the whole nation was waiting for the Messiah. So much labor had gone into that country, the seed had been laid, and now was the time for its reaping – and what a harvest there was! The first proclamation of the Gospel after Jesus ascending into heaven resulted in about 3,000 souls coming to Christ!

But what of here in Cambodia? A lot of times I feel like I am working with no result. I can count on one hand the people who have come to Christ, in whose lives I have been an influence. I labor, plant seeds, but rarely see any come into fruition.

But as we think of this whole passage:
The food of Jesus, coming from God, that is better than the food of this world

And then of the harvest – the great reward from it and the rejoicing of both the sower and reaper together, the reminder of humility – the encouragement for me, the message I want to give you is this:

"My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”
(John 4:34)

The food is not in the result – for we are not sent out for results. In looking to result we will fall from exhaustion. Rather the food is in doing the will and accomplishing the work of the One who sent us.

Do not make your food the results of your labor – rather let it be in obeying your Lord and Master – it is in this that we are fed, that we find our encouragement, that we are serving God – and that He has sent us out to do His will and accomplish His work.

So go, and let us be refreshed in the labors our Master has called us to do.

"For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God--his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. "For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness made me great. You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip; "The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation, the God who gave me vengeance and brought down peoples under me, who brought me out from my enemies; "For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing praises to your name. Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever."

(2 Samuel 22:30-51)

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