John 4:27–42: The Labor of Jesus
We cannot be surprised to see the disciples marvel at Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman when they return with food (John 4:27). They have come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, but they do not yet fully understand what that means that he will be or do—and furthermore, they do not understand what that will mean for their own lives as they continue to follow Jesus. What surprises them today will eventually become their mission in life, and Jesus begins to prepare them for that calling in this second half of the story of Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman. After having explained to the Samaritan woman the nature of true worship in the first half of this story, Jesus now turns to teach his disciples about the nature of kingdom work, including the sowing and reaping into which he is now calling them to enter.
In this passage, Jesus explains the way that the kingdom will grow: each generation will sow and reap. Through this process, reapers will bring in a harvest that they have not labored for, and sowers will not be cheated out of the joy of their labor if someone afterward enters into the labor that they began. On the contrary, sower and reaper will rejoice together in the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ (John 4:36). True worship of God in spirit and truth necessarily flows out into the true work of sowing and reaping an eternal harvest of sinners reconciled to God through Christ. This is not merely the mission that Jesus gives to his immediate disciples, but the mission that Jesus has entrusted to his entire church throughout the ages.
1. What keeps you from sharing the good news of Jesus with those you know? In what ways does the woman’s humble proclamation to “come and see” Jesus encourage you and challenge you? What is one way that God might be calling you to help someone take “one step” closer to Christ?
2. Where have you experienced the rich joy of ministry that Jesus calls his “food”? How does seeing spiritual harvest nourish you to continue laboring for the kingdom?
3. Does the promise that the sower and the reaper will “rejoice together” (John 4:36) motivate you? Are you someone gifted in evangelism, who consistently sees a harvest come in? Or, do you faithfully sow the seed without seeing much fruit? Regardless of your role, how does the promise of a reward help you to keep going?
4. What kind of faith do you have—is it built on the testimony of others, or on first-hand experience of Jesus? What is the next step you need to take to continue growing to know Christ increasingly more through hearing for yourself (John 4:42)?