Did you know that we can get so busy doing what we think God wants us to do, that it is extremely easy to miss what He actually wants us to do? Stick around and we’ll talk about it, here on 5 minutes of truth.
Most of us, if not all of us, are very familiar with one of the most moving and powerful interactions Jesus ever had with a person when He walked on this planet. It happened just outside of a town called Sychar in Samaria and it involved a person who probably just wanted to be left alone. I am speaking, of course, of the woman at the well.
We do not know her name…but we certainly know her story. She will forever, at least this side of heaven, be known by her gender, her ethnicity, her location and…her desperation. She was a woman lost and helpless in her sin who arrived at the well during a time of day that ensured the likelihood that she would not meet anyone there. Instead, she met Jesus. Jesus lovingly and patiently spoke to the woman, promised her eternal life and transformed her from a social pariah steeped in her sin to a child of God…all in the time it takes to read the events portrayed in John chapter 4.
Again, the vast majority of us remember the woman, Jesus, and her story. However, we do seem to forget another group of characters who play a huge role in the story, yet are missing through most of the narrative. To whom am I referring? The 12 Disciples. Remember them? Remember their role in this story? Probably not. So let’s take a quick look at the pivotal lesson God has for us in the role the Disciples had in this pericope.
They are only mentioned at the very beginning of the story and the very end. They left before Jesus started talking to the woman and they came back only after the conversation with the woman was wrapping up. In reality, that was part of the problem. At the beginning of the story we are told that after Jesus and the 12 had stopped by the well, that the Disciples: “had gone away into the city to buy food”. At the end of the story the Disciples returned to the well with food, saw Jesus finishing up His conversation with the woman, and implored Jesus to eat the food they had purchased.
In the meantime however, the woman, buoyed by her newfound salvation had left the well and her water pot to go back into the city to tell the people: “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ”? As a result of her pronouncement, the author of John tells us that the people, “went out of the city and came to Him” (meaning Jesus of course). And that, “many of the Samaritans in that city believed in Him”. But there is something kind of strange about this event, isn’t there?
First, why did it take 12 people to go get food when they were all at the well? I mean, I guess it’s possible they would have needed 12 people…but it doesn’t seem likely. In fact, it sort of seems like it was the result of the fact that none of the Disciples wanted any of the other Disciples to be seen doing “more” for Jesus than the other. I can hear it now. “Jesus is hungry, I’ll go get some food”. Another Disciple chimes in: “No, I’ll go get Him some food I’ve known Him longer”. Still another says: “Well, I’m related to Him, so it should be me”. Until finally they just say, “Why don’t we all go get some food for Jesus”? Has a ring of familiarity there doesn’t it? But there is Scripture that backs up the idea that though the Disciples were doing things for Jesus, they were not doing what He wanted them to do. How do we know this?
Think about this for just a moment: The Disciples knew Who Jesus was. They loved Him. They followed Him. They believed in Him. He was their Messiah. They walked all the way into town. Bought food. And walked all the way out of town…and they never told anyone that Jesus was just outside of town. They never told a single person the Messiah…the Savior…was sitting by the well. They never said: “You need to go see this Guy. You need to listen to Him”. In contrast, Jesus never left His spot by the well and the entire town came out to Him. Why? Because when the woman at the well finally came to know Who He was, she couldn’t wait to go tell everyone she could find. The “lowly” Samaritan woman with the sordid past did what the chosen Disciples did not.
And Jesus all but says so. Confused after their return, the Disciples implored Him to eat. Jesus responded by saying: “My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me”. Clearly saying that the Disciples had not done His will by bringing Him food. The Disciples still did not understand wondering if someone else had brought Him food while they were gone. But Jesus explains to them that while buying the food was fine, they needed to “look to the fields, for they are already white for harvest”. He was telling them that proclaiming the life changing power of the Gospel is what I want you to do. Not buy Me food. Don’t get so caught up in what you think I want you to do, when you know what I always want you to do: Tell a lost and dying world how much I love them…that I will forgive them…I will grant them the peace that surpasses all understanding…and I will be with them always…even until the ends of the age. How cool is that?
On behalf of myself, Robert Houghton and all of us here at Growth Project, keep reading God’s Word.
Dr. Purvis started Growth Project with Robert Houghton after spending 20 years on active duty as a Chaplain in the United States Navy. After many moves and multiple deployments, he settled in Winter Haven, Florida to do God’s will. A glutton for educational punishment Danny has a BA in English from Carson-Newman College, an MDiv from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; a ThM from Princeton Theological Seminary; and a PhD in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. He has been married to his wife Kimberly (whom he met when they were 6 years old) for nearly 30 years and they have four wonderful children.