Gathering Fruit for Eternal Life: John 4:1-45

Focus Passage: John 4:1-45 (HCSB)

When Jesus knew that the Pharisees heard He was making and baptizing more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), He left Judea and went again to Galilee. He had to travel through Samaria, so He came to a town of Samaria called Sychar near the property that Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, worn out from His journey, sat down at the well. It was about six in the evening.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.

“Give Me a drink,” Jesus said to her, for His disciples had gone into town to buy food.

“How is it that You, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” she asked Him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.

10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.”

11 “Sir,” said the woman, “You don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. So where do You get this ‘living water’? 12 You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are You? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock.”

13 Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. 14 But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.”

15 “Sir,” the woman said to Him, “give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and come here to draw water.”

16 “Go call your husband,” He told her, “and come back here.”

17 “I don’t have a husband,” she answered.

“You have correctly said, ‘I don’t have a husband,’” Jesus said. 18 “For you’ve had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman replied, “I see that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, yet you Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 Jesus told her, “Believe Me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will explain everything to us.”

26 “I am He,” Jesus told her, “the One speaking to you.”

27 Just then His disciples arrived, and they were amazed that He was talking with a woman. Yet no one said, “What do You want?” or “Why are You talking with her?”

28 Then the woman left her water jar, went into town, and told the men, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They left the town and made their way to Him.

31 In the meantime the disciples kept urging Him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But He said, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.”

33 The disciples said to one another, “Could someone have brought Him something to eat?”

34 “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work,” Jesus told them. 35 “Don’t you say, ‘There are still four more months, then comes the harvest’? Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest. 36 The reaper is already receiving pay and gathering fruit for eternal life, so the sower and reaper can rejoice together. 37 For in this case the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap what you didn’t labor for; others have labored, and you have benefited from their labor.”

39 Now many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of what the woman said when she testified, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 Therefore, when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of what He said. 42 And they told the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.”

43 After two days He left there for Galilee. 44 Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. 45 When they entered Galilee, the Galileans welcomed Him because they had seen everything He did in Jerusalem during the festival. For they also had gone to the festival.

Read John 4:1-45 in context and/or in other translations on!

During a brief transition within John’s gospel, we can find a perplexing concept and a profound idea that Jesus shares with His disciples. While the disciples are in a Samaritan town buying food, Jesus strikes up a conversation with a Samaritan woman. But even though Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman is interesting itself, what I find perplexing and profound in Jesus’ words happens during a brief conversation after the woman leaves and before she returns with those from the town.

It is in this transition where we find the disciples urging Jesus to eat something. They were probably really hungry when they went into the town, and I can only imagine how hungry they felt Jesus would have been since they probably had eaten and snacked all the way back to the well.

But Jesus responds, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” (v. 32)

This confuses the disciples. Did Jesus find food while they were gone? Did someone else come by the well and offer Him something to eat?

Sensing their confusion, Jesus responds to the questions they are asking amongst themselves. Jesus tells them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.” (v. 34)

It is in this statement that we see Jesus pointing us towards a pretty important concept. What we focus our attention on grows. If we focus on our hunger, we will only become hungrier. But if we focus on our mission, then only that will matter. It will not matter if we are tired, hungry, or stressed out. Those things are minimized in our minds as long as our focus stays on the mission.

And Jesus continues by pointing us to a truth about the only mission with eternal significance: “Don’t you say, ‘There are still four more months, then comes the harvest’? Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest. The reaper is already receiving pay and gathering fruit for eternal life, so the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For in this case the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap what you didn’t labor for; others have labored, and you have benefited from their labor.” (v. 35-38)

The big truth I see in Jesus’ message is that when our eyes are open to what God is doing in the world, we will see opportunities everywhere to help others and to bring people to Him. God has been working in people’s lives long before we were invited to be involved, and we are able to benefit from what they started.

When we partner with Jesus, we are able to gather fruit destined for eternal life. That’s the only mission with results that will last forever!

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The Second Trial: Luke 22:66-71

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When describing all that happened following Jesus’ arrest and leading up to the cross, all four gospels describe the details differently. Each gospel writer has the details in a unique, but similar order, and some events that may have been the same event are placed in different places in each gospel’s “order of events”.

While these discrepancies might be reasons for a skeptic to doubt, all this uniqueness in my own mind speaks to four independent investigators asking witnesses questions of a single event. It’s possible that the order of the details is different, and that makes piecing the timeline of the event together a little more difficult.

This brings us to our passage for this episode. Two weeks ago, we read Mark’s gospel, which described a trial Jesus faced at night. This trial had numerous false witnesses contradicting each other, and when it looked like the trial was about to fall apart, in almost desperation, the high priest challenges Jesus on His claim of being God’s Son.

However, in Luke’s gospel, the first trial we see take place is after Peter’s denial and it happens when morning came. Luke doesn’t describe any false witnesses, but he does draw our attention onto the direct challenge of the religious leaders that they use to condemn Jesus.

In my mind, as I piece the gospel record together, there were two trials. The one during the night was a practice trial to get information that these leaders could then challenge Jesus on during the official trial in the morning.

Let’s read about the morning trial that Luke describes. This event is found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 22, and we will read it from the God’s Word translation. Starting in verse 66, Luke tells us:

66 In the morning the council of the people’s leaders, the chief priests and the experts in Moses’ Teachings, gathered together. They brought Jesus in front of their highest court and asked him, 67 “Tell us, are you the Messiah?”

Jesus said to them, “If I tell you, you won’t believe me. 68 And if I ask you, you won’t answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be in the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne.”

70 Then all of them said, “So you’re the Son of God?”

Jesus answered them, “You’re right to say that I am.”

71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We’ve heard him say it ourselves.”

Let’s stop reading here because this marks the end of this trial. Following this, the religious leaders take Jesus to Pilate.

However, what I find interesting in Luke’s trial that makes me think this was a different trial than what Mark describes is that the religious leaders open with a direct question and Jesus responds with a similar, but distinctly different answer.

The religious leaders are working against the clock because they have the Passover to get ready for, and they want Jesus condemned to death as quickly as possible, since this is likely the only chance they feel they will get.

After fishing for information and for a charge to bring against Jesus during the time they had Him at night, the religious leaders settle on Jesus’ claim of divinity and His role as God’s Messiah. They take this information to the official trial that is first thing that morning.

In Luke’s official trial, I am amazed at Jesus’ response, especially after a passage we read earlier this year. In this response Jesus gives, I believe He directly references the question He asked the religious leaders that they could not answer.

Earlier that week, Jesus had presented a divine picture of the Messiah when He quoted David saying in the Psalms: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Take the honored position—the one next to me [God the Father] on the heavenly throne until I put your enemies under your control.’(This event can be found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 20, verses 41-44.)

Now with that in mind, let’s read Jesus’ response again during Luke’s trial. Verses 67-69 tell us that Jesus responded by saying, “If I tell you, you won’t believe me. And if I ask you, you won’t answer.  But from now on, the Son of Man will be in the honored position—the one next to God the Father on the heavenly throne.

Do you see the similarities in these two verses?

Reading these two passages together gives me a picture of what Jesus is doing right now. Following Jesus’ return to Heaven, God the Father gives Him the honored position next to Him and Jesus is reigning in Heaven as the “Defeater of Sin and Death”. These two passages together describe the time we are currently living in, which is a time where Jesus is victorious but sin hasn’t yet been destroyed.

In this passage, we discover that Jesus not only responded strategically here, but He responded in the exact way that the religious leaders needed Him to respond to condemn Him to death.

Also, with this response, the religious leaders condemn themselves. Not only do they reject that Jesus is God’s Son, but they also reject Jesus as God’s Messiah, and they reject God Himself because they don’t believe Jesus fits their picture of God.

By rejecting both God the Father and Jesus as the Son and the Messiah, their judgment displays their allegiance to the powers of this world and not to the religion they claimed to follow. These religious leaders had taken their tradition and formed it into their religion in place of the religion God had given to Moses for the people.

It is no wonder the religious leaders rejected Jesus. Jesus came with an accurate picture of God that said every human being is a sinner who needs a Savior. While the religious leaders intellectually believed this, otherwise they would not have judged Jesus as a sinner, they disliked this truth being shared openly by an outsider.

It is the same way with us today. While it is not pleasant to see ourselves as sinners, that is who we are. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we are victorious sinners who have had our sins washed away, but until Jesus returns to rid the world of sin, sin will always be something our lives are challenged with, and sin is always something that is included in our past.

This is the way God designed it to be, because if there was no sin in our past, not only would we be deceiving ourselves, but we also would be rejecting the need of a Savior to wash us clean. Jesus came to save sinners, and those who don’t see themselves as sinners needing a Savior won’t accept the gift that Jesus freely offers to those who place their faith in Him.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always seek God first and place Him first in your life. Be sure to recognize that you are a sinner who needs a Savior and that your past needs Jesus’ sacrifice to cover it. Choose today to live a victorious life that doesn’t look like your sinful past, and choose to live each day moving forward for Jesus.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow closer to God and to Jesus each and every day. Through prayer and Bible study, you grow your personal relationship with God and through the personal relationship with God, you are able to discover and learn the truth that God wants to teach you. While others can give you ideas to think about, filter everything you learn through the truth of God’s Word.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of the Cross – Episode 37: In the gospel of Luke, we read about a different trial Jesus faced that morning, and with the question the religious leaders ask Jesus during this trial, we see an amazing picture of who Jesus claimed to be, and what He is doing in Heaven right now!

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Celebration of the Found: Luke 15:1-10

Focus Passage: Luke 15:1-10 (NASB)

One way I have learned to read parables Jesus gave is to look at what prompted the parable to be shared in the first place. In this passage, Jesus shares two parables (and a third one immediately following in verse 11), and they are all prompted by one thing, which we read in verses 1 and 2:

“Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’” (verses 1-2)

These two simple truths prompt Jesus to share three of the most amazing parables to illustrate God’s love for sinners – all because the “religious” people of the time were distorting God’s character with their attitudes and actions.

So Jesus shares these two parables, and while they don’t specifically state that they are representative of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, the closing lines of these two reference what happens in heaven when a sinner repents and turns to God: “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (v. 7) and “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (v. 10)

From Jesus’ response to these “grumblings” from the Pharisees and the scribes, He points out a truth about God that was counter to what they taught/believed: God rejoices when sinners repent. The opposite approach is that God reluctantly accepts those who repent, or that when they repent, they then have to prove themselves worthy by doing something extra to show their repentance was genuine.

Neither alternate is even implied by Jesus’ set of parables here. The coin and sheep are not scolded for getting lost, nor are they required to prove themselves worthy of trust again by doing something or facing some sort of punishment. Instead, like an excited shepherd or an excited housekeeper, excitement is expressed when finding something that we thought had been lost – something we may have been losing hope of ever finding.

It is the same way with God. There will be a point when He ends history, but until that point, He hasn’t lost hope that sinners will be found by Him. The coin and sheep cannot find themselves – it is God who is actively seeking them.

Will you let God “find” you?

God promises a celebration in heaven at the very moment you are found, and when we arrive in heaven, we get to take part in the “Celebration of the Found”. Jesus is an equal opportunity “includer” – anyone and everyone who lets Him find them will be present.

Will you let Jesus find you?

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Avoiding the Inevitable: John 6:1-15

Focus Passage: John 6:1-15 (NASB)

Of all the events in the gospels to make Jesus famous, one stands apart in the minds of those present in the first century as solidifying Jesus as being more than just Someone special who God sent to them with a message. This event is so famous it actually holds a very exclusive status as being one of the few events that all four gospel writers include.

However, at the end of John’s version of this event, we see both the shift in the mind of the crowd and we see how Jesus responds. Following the crowd having finished eating the meal and the twelve baskets of leftovers being gathered, we read “Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.’” (v. 14)

With satisfied stomachs, the mood of the crowd had changed from hunger to honor. The crowd saw the significance in this miracle, and they didn’t want to let the opportunity escape them. Jesus was able to supply all their needs, and therefore, Jesus would be the perfect king.

However, Jesus knew what was happening, and He thought differently. The next verse shifts our perspective by saying, “So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.” (v. 15)

It seems that whenever the emotions of those present were going to get out of control, Jesus disbands the crowd. When the crowds were beginning to get the wrong idea of Jesus’ mission, He sends them away. This event even impacted the disciples along with the crowd, and we see Jesus sending them away in a boat so that He could be alone.

This tells me that the more Jesus was in the spotlight, the more He valued His alone time. This is also true for each of us. The more visible to others we are, the greater our need for alone, quiet time with God.

While Jesus was the most famous man to ever walk the earth, He is also our example for how to live a truly successful life – and that is by living one that is connected to God over being based on fame, status, or wealth. Jesus could have had all the earthly measures of success, but instead He chose to focus on His relationship to the Father above everything else.

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