Jesus was exhausted. He and his disciples had been baptizing in Judea, preaching the kingdom and ministering to the hears of people. But when Jesus heard that the Pharisees were saying that he was baptizing more than John, he decided to return back north to Judea. On his way instead of going the long way around Samaria, they went right through it.
Jesus was tired enough that when lunchtime came, he sat down by Jacob’s well and urged the disciples to go into town to get food. A woman came and in his thirst, he asked her for water. He clearly didn’t have anything to draw with to get water (4:11) and while Jews didn’t talk to Samaritans, he asked her anyway. Interestingly we do not know if she gave him water or not, although at least when she ran off into town she left her water jug.
By the time the disciples returned some time had passed. They found Jesus at the well and were surprised to hear him talking to a woman. A Samaritan at that. But they shut their mouths.
After she left, they urged Jesus to eat. But he refused. Even though undoubtedly he was quite hungry. The disciples wondered if someone else had brought him food.
Jesus replied, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about…My food…is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (v. 33, 34). Then he spoke to them of the harvest.
Not long after the whole town of Samaria came out to him and after hearing and seeing Jesus, they believed in him as Messiah.
It’s interesting as what I think went on is that Jesus did an impromptu fast. It would have been easy for him to eat, be refreshed, and once again deal with the crowds and preach to them. But instead, he refused to eat.
It’s for me one of the clearest pictures we have of fasting and the harvest. If we want to see the harvest, if Jesus thought it important to fast, then I think we should as well. It’s the way for the kingdom to “fast forward.”