Some time ago I was reading John 4 in my quiet time and suddenly a few verses in this well known story came to me with new meaning. I have always loved the story of Jesus talking to this woman who felt so uneasy in her own village. How wonderful that Jesus was so unlike the religious teachers of his day – He did not shrink from talking to a lady, and a lady with a bad reputation at that. Jesus was such a master at guiding the conversation.
So far, nothing new. But then I came to the part where the disciples return from town with food (verse 27). Jesus has no appetite for a sandwich. Why not? The disciples must have wondered why they had gone to the pains to get food for their master. In verse 31-34 it is revealed why Jesus wants no food: ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ Really. And wat kind of food might that be? Had that lady shared part of her lunch with Jesus? Jesus’ answer must have highly surprised them: ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.’
My impression is that Jesus was absolutely thrilled with the way the conversation with the Samaritan woman had developed. He had confronted her with the sin in her life and her conclusion was that he must be the Saviour. She never went to the pains to actually draw water from the well, but left her jar and ran back to town, full of this wonderful news. It seems she had lost her thirst; something else filled her now: living water. This made Jesus so very happy that for him, bringing her to that living water, was like eating a delicious meal.
Jesus tells the disciples that the fields are white for harvest. It must have been so special to Him that many Samaritans came out to him that day and believed in him – so different from the Galileans who refused to give him the honour he deserved (verse 44). Jesus stayed there for two days and I bet that these were two very joyful days.
What is joy in ministry for me? What is it that really satisfies me while doing ministry? Well, it is just so thrilling to see people come to faith and see them grow in faith. To see people reach for a drink of living water, in stead of trying to get a few drops of stuff that will make them even more thirsty than before – that is joy. To see them running back to their relatives and relating to them the Good News – that is joy. I feel that when I am spending time with people and when I am trying to point them to the living water – how feeble my attempt may be – I am in good company. Some of Jesus’ joy is imparted to me.
Of course I would love to see more, much more of that happening. So did Jesus. After Samaria, he went to his hometown, knowing that he did not get the response there he would like to get. Often, we do not get the response we would love to see. But for today, I am basking in this story of Jesus’ great joy when the conversion of this lady and many people from town along with her, was like a banquet for Jesus’ heart.