Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?” The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him.
Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.”
But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.”
“Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other.
Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”
The “food” about which Jesus was speaking was his spiritual nourishment. This includes more than Bible study, prayer, and attending church. Spiritual nourishment also comes from doing God’s will and helping to bring his work of salvation to completion. We are nourished not only by what we take in, but also by what we give out for God. In John 17:4, Jesus refers to completing God’s work on earth.
The wages Jesus offers are the joy of working for him and seeing the harvest of believers. These wages come to sower and reaper alike because both find joy in seeing new believers come into Christ’s Kingdom. The phrase “others had already done the work” (John 4:38) may refer to the Old Testament prophets and to John the Baptist, who paved the way for the gospel.
Sometimes Christians excuse themselves from witnessing by saying that their family or friends aren’t ready to believe. Jesus, however, makes it clear that around us a continual harvest waits to be reaped. Examine your heart for any excuses or fears that keep you from talking about your faith. Then prayerfully look around. You will find people ready to hear God’s Word.