John 4 – “When was the last time you ate?”

In Commentary & Questions, Faith, John by Matt0 Comments

Since I dove into writing about this chapter from verse one last time, I thought I would read it again to see how the rest of the chapter spoke to me.  I came across a portion of it that I thought was interesting…at least the way I was reading it…

27Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

28Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

31Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

34“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.

-John 4:27-38 (NIV)

Let me go back just for a moment and paraphrase how I read this…The disciples return to find Jesus speaking with a Samaritan woman.  Verse 6 of this chapter tells us that Jesus was apparently tired from his journey.  Since the disciples are returning, one can assume they were there with him at one point and left him, perhaps on Jesus instruction, to possibly go get some food and provisions.  Reading into their response a bit (“Why are you talking with her?”), I wonder if they were really thinking, “Man, this guy is more tired than we thought…we leave him for an hour and he’s already talking to Samaritans!”

So, maybe they question him, “When was the last time you ate?!!”  They offer him some food and perhaps it’s then that Jesus decides to use the event as a teaching moment… “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

When I read that line, I couldn’t help but remember something he said to his mother, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house? (Luke 2:49)” or maybe the rebuke that he gave to Satan when offered bread after 40 days of fasting, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)”

You see, nothing distracts Jesus.  He remains incredibly focused in every moment, no matter the circumstance.  Neither hunger, thirst….or indeed, social etiquette and cultural norms would deter Jesus’ focus on his Fathers’ work – to spread the good news of salvation to all who will hear.

God, help me remember these things with my neighbors in the community where I live, so that I might share your message of Jesus without fear.