And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his own word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
There are three distinct sections before us here. In Joh_4:27-30 we have the return of the disciples from the city where they had gone to buy food, and the return of the woman of Samaria to her home in Sychar, there to give testimony. In Joh_4:31-38 we have our Lord’s serious words in connection with the great harvest of souls and the necessity for more laborers. And in Joh_4:39-42 we have the testimony of the Samaritans, who were brought to Christ by the woman to whom He had revealed His messiahship as recorded in the earlier part of the chapter.
We read in Joh_4:27, “Upon this.” That is, just at the time that this Samaritan woman heard the Lord Jesus give that wonderful declaration, “I that speak unto thee am he” (Joh_4:26), in answer to her doubtful, half-questioning word, “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ” (Joh_4:25), just at that moment the disciples of the Lord returned. They marveled that He talked with the woman. Doubtless they knew her character, and that made them wonder all the more that their Lord should be found in conversation with her. But oh, how little people understood the love of His heart! Again and again we find certain ones surprised because of the depth of His interest in poor, sin-stained men and women. He loved to be with sinners. He loved to manifest His grace and compassion to them. But He never associated with sinners in order to go on with them in their ways. He sought them out in order to win them from their ways and to reveal to them the God of all grace.
And so here the disciples stood by, looking on in wonder and surprise, but nobody liked to speak out what was in his heart. They did not want to ask Him, “What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?” (Joh_4:27). He could have answered readily. He could have replied, “I seek the salvation of her precious soul. I seek to give her the living water that she may never thirst again. I seek to make her My own and to cleanse her from all her sin.” And if I am speaking today to anyone still living away from Him, let me say that is what He longs to do for you. “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” (Luk_15:2). The Pharisees said that, and they thought they were bringing an evil charge against Him when they used such language, but oh, it is to the very glory of His Saviorhood that He received sinners. I like those words of John Bunyan. He exclaims, “O this Lamb of God! He had a whole heaven to Himself, myriads of angels to do His bidding, but that could not satisfy Him. He must have sinners to share it with Him.” We love to sing:
Sinners Jesus will receive;
Sound the word of grace to all
Who the heavenly pathway leave,
All who linger, all who fall.
Sing it o’er and o’er again,
Christ receiveth sinful men.
He received this poor sinner. He revealed Himself to her. He gave her the living Water. And then we read, “The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city” (Joh_4:28 a). Notice that. She came thirsty. She came to get the water from Jacob’s well, but she found that in Christ which so satisfied the longing of her heart that she forgot her waterpot for love of Him, and off she hastened to the city. “ [She] saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (Joh_4:28-29). And so she who, a little while ago, had been a sin-stained, characterless woman has now become an earnest evangelist. It is just what the Lord Jesus has been doing all down through the centuries, revealing His grace to needy souls. It is what, if you do not know His saving power, He is waiting to do for you.
Then we read, “They [the people of Samaria] went out of the city, and came unto him” (Joh_4:30), and in the meantime the disciples prayed their Master to eat. “But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of” (Joh_4:32). They were so concerned about meeting physical need. The Lord Jesus Christ was thinking of something very much higher. His first thought was not of satisfying the cravings of physical appetite. His great concern was a yearning love for poor, sinful men and women, and a desire to deliver them from their wretchedness, to cleanse them from their iniquity, and to make them pure and holy in the sight of God.
“I have meat to eat.” In other words, there was nothing that gave Him such satisfaction, there was nothing that meant so much to Him as seeing anxious souls ready to receive His message. And oh, dear friends, I want to tell any poor sinner, you need not hesitate about coming to Jesus. He longs to have you come. People say to me sometimes, “I fear I am almost too great a sinner.” You are not too great a sinner for Him. He loves to take even the vilest sinners and cleanse them from their sins. He is waiting to do it for you. “Yes, “I have meat,” He says, “that ye know not of.”
And the disciples, who were thinking still on the natural plane, turned to one another and shook their heads and asked, “Whatever does He mean? ‘Hath any man brought him aught to eat?’” (Joh_4:33). But Jesus knew what they were saying, and He said, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (Joh_4:34). It was in order to do that will that He came from the glory He had with the Father before the world was. We hear Him say in Psalm 40, “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psa_40:8). Doing that will meant assuming our humanity. It meant coming to earth as a little babe born of a virgin mother. It meant growing up in Nazareth, that mean, wicked, and dirty city. It meant growing up there in holiness of life and purity of heart, a Child without a stain of sin upon His conscience and undefiled by any evil thought or by anything unholy, a Man to whom the will of God was utterly supreme, a Man whose hands were hardened as He used the carpenter’s tools, who worked in the shop so that the people afterward were amazed when He went out preaching. They exclaimed, “Is not this the carpenter? How, then, has this Man these things, having never learned?” But in all this He was doing the will of God, and He was ever looking forward to the cross. In God’s due time, He laid aside His carpenter’s tools, left the shop, and went out to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God and to heal needy humanity of their ills. And the cross loomed ever nearer before His face.
In the seventeenth chapter of this very gospel we see Him in prayer, and He is bowed before the Father, His heart going up to God who had sent Him into the world and to whom He was soon going back again. He cries, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (Joh_17:4). In this He was anticipating the work of the cross, for the work that was specially given Him to do was that of making atonement for sin. He says, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mat_20:28; Mar_10:45). That was the work that He had in view. That was the work He must finish. He would not go back to the glory until He had accomplished that for which He had dedicated Himself from the very beginning.
And so at last, after those awful hours of suffering on the tree when God made Him to be sin for us, though He knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, after He had drained the bitter cup of judgment to the dregs, the cup that our sins had filled, after He had borne in His inmost soul all that our iniquities deserve, when “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa_53:6)-then we hear Him saying, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luk_23:46). He cried with a loud voice, “It is finished” (Joh_19:30), and He bowed His head and yielded up His spirit to the Father. In the Greek language that is only one word instead of three. We say, “It is finished.” He cried, “Finished!” That means that the work that saves was completed. It means that the work whereby men and women may be cleansed from their sins and may stand justified from every charge before a holy God had been fully done, and upon the basis of that finished work God can now be just and the Justifier of him that believes in Jesus.
A dear saint was dying, and somebody stood over him and asked, “Is all well?” He looked up and replied with a smile. “Yes, ‘it is finished.’ Upon that I can hang my whole eternity.” Oh, do you realize the blessedness of that? “It is finished.” You cannot add anything to a finished work. It is not a question of Christ having done His part and now you must do your part in order to put away sin. But the blessed truth is that Christ has forever put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, and God wants us to receive the testimony of that, to believe it, and to give God glory for it. And the moment we do believe, all the work of the Lord Jesus Christ is put down over against our sin and our iniquity, and we are justified freely by His grace.
“My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” He came into the world for that express purpose, and He would not go back to heaven until it was accomplished.
But now, He thinks of the millions, the untold millions, in the world who will have to wait so long before they hear the message. So He says to His disciples, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?” (Joh_4:35 a). This, evidently, was very early in the year and they could see the green fields about them. They would make their calculations and say, “Well, in about four months it will be harvest time.” Jesus says, “Do not say that. Do not say, ‘There are yet four months, then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (Joh_4:35)- not the fields of wheat, not the fields of corn, but these great fields of the nations of men all about us everywhere in the world. They are white already to harvest, men and women everywhere who need Christ. Men and women who are living in their sins, who are dying in their sins, who are crying out, “Who will show us any good?” (Psa_4:6). Now it is the responsibility of the servants of Christ, of those who know Him, of those who have been saved by His grace, to give this message of His gospel to those still living in sin.
Here, I may say, is the challenge in regard to foreign missions. People say sometimes, “Well, I do not believe in foreign missions.” You can be very thankful that somebody else did! If somebody had not believed in foreign missions long ago, you and I would be poor heathen still living in ignorance of God and in sin and corruption. But somebody was enough interested in foreign missions to come to our fathers in the various European lands from which our ancestors hail, and there to tell the story that turned them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. We today are enjoying the knowledge of Christ because of the faithfulness of those of bygone centuries. Oh, let us be as faithful today! Let us be as true today in heeding the command of our Lord Jesus Christ to get the gospel out to all the world in the shortest possible time! Do not let us put it off. Do not say, “Oh, well, some other day will do.” He says here, “Say not ye, There are yet four months?”
I think there are some to whom He might say today, if He were living in the earth, “Say not ye there is another dispensation, when the remnant of Israel will do the reaping and get the crop out of the world? Say not that, but lift up your eyes and look. The fields are white already to harvest, and it is your responsibility to do what you can to give them the truth.” And be assured of this: if you and I do faithfully what we can, whether by going ourselves or by upholding in prayer and by our gifts those who do go, He will see that we are rewarded accordingly. The Lord adds, “He that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours” (Joh_4:36-38).
The disciples were sent out into the land of Israel, to which prophets had been sent of God during other centuries, and they were going to reap where others had sown. And so today, He sends His servants, some to sow and some to reap, that all, at last, may rejoice together.
Now, in Joh_4:39-42, we get the effect of that Samaritan woman’s testimony. Whenever God saves a soul, it is in order that the saved one may give the ministry of His grace to somebody else. Has He saved you? Then are you trying to reach someone else? You have often heard the story of the life-saving crew that went out in a boat through a terrific storm and rescued a man who had been fastened to a mast on a wrecked ship caught in the rocks and visible clearly from shore through their glasses. They brought this man back, but he was utterly unconscious. They took him to the little hospital and gave him some restorative to bring him to. The first words he uttered when he came to consciousness were these: “There is another man.” They said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Another, another man.” They said, “Do you mean there is another living man out on that wreck?” “Yes,” he said, “another man.” And so they went out again through the storm, and this time they had to clamber aboard and search the ship. Sure enough, they found another man in the ship lying there unconscious. They brought him ashore in their boat, and he was saved. Have you been brought to know the missionary grace of God in redeeming love? Well, there is another man, there is another woman, there is somebody else needing Christ. Do what you can to reach them.
The Samaritan woman was saved. She had found the living water. She had gone back to the village and said to the men-I think that is significant: the men knew her pretty well-and she said to the men, “Everything is different now. ‘Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?’” (Joh_4:29). And so we read. “Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days, and many more believed because of his own word” (Joh_4:39-41).
There was a wonderful awakening in that Samaritan city, all because of the devoted and faithful testimony of this poor woman who had just newly come to know Him. “Many more believed because of his own word; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world” (Joh_4:41-42). It was she who aroused their interest. It was she who led the first to go out to Him. As a result of that, they invited Him into the city. But now they say, “We believe not just because of your testimony, but because we have seen Him and have heard Him. He has spoken to our hearts and has moved our consciences. He has won our love and affection, and we have put our faith in Him. We know He is the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
Do you know Him? What a blessed thing to be acquainted with Him, whom to know is life eternal, and then to endeavor to lead others to know Him too!