31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” 34 Jesus *said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. 35 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. 36 Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.” 39 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.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of His word; 42 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.”
As I read this passage today, I see a few things we can take from it. First, I see Jesus repeating a message that we saw Him encounter during His 40 days of fasting and testing by the devil, Jesus reminded us that, “man cannot live on bread alone.” Here, He says it a bit differently but the message is the same: our sustenance comes from God, not the things of this world. Like manna in the desert, like strength during fasting, like endurance during times of trial and tribulation, God provides that which we need when we need it and since He is an eternal God, the provision is eternal and everlasting.
Verses 35 through 38 remind me of an analogy I heard once about our interactions with people and their perspective walks with God. As Christians, certainly we like to be there when they begin seeking out God or when they accept Christ as their savior, or even as they begin the journey of living out as a follower of Christ. The analogy likened everyone’s journey to a chain. The links in the chain are individual people or events that create the entire chain. We could be the first link, we could be the last, but the majority of the time, we are one of the links in the middle. Regardless of where we are in that chain, however, God made us a part of it for a reason and we are to do our part when the time comes. I also think back to my time in the military and how the intelligence world is divided up into compartments and many times, one hand does not know what the other is doing. This, of course, is to prevent spying and sharing of secrets. We are all assigned to our own compartments and sometimes we receive the work of one, do our part, and send it off to another, not knowing what happens before or after.
Likewise, as people serving God and working to the building of His Kingdom, we are simply to do our part, to the best of our ability, with a heart to serve Him, period. We are all part of the same team and it doesn’t matter whether or not one part is the part that “finishes” the chain, that “starts” the chain, or is involved somewhere in the middle. If we focus on His glory, not our own, then it truly will not matter and instead of us arguing over who is right and wrong, over who is better than the other (all distractions from our purpose as Christians, I believe), but rather as brothers and sisters through Christ then the harvest will be plentiful.
That being said, we must get a clue from what the Samaritans say to the woman at the end of this passage. They do not believe because she said it, it is not of her own credibility that they believe. To them, she was a social outcast. This is why she was collecting water in the afternoon, when nobody else was there instead of in the morning like the rest of the community (a lesson learned from a sermon years ago). But rather because the Truth of God’s Word is believable. We see in verse 41, many more believed because of His word.” It is not up to us to convince others or persuade others to believe what we believe. Belief is up to God, it I sour job to tell it to others. Anything else is just us trying to be God Himself.
Who are you trying to persuade?