The disciples had come back from the town of Sychar with some food. When they got to Jacob's well they saw Jesus talking with this Samaritan woman, and they were surprised. That word in Greek means they were astonished, utterly amazed. But they didn't ask Jesus why He was talking with her, nor what He was talking with her about. I think they must have just hung back, politely, and waited for the woman to leave.
A half mile from town, without her water jar, it probably took her no more than fifteen minutes, maybe, to get back, tell everybody about Jesus and have everyone drop whatever they were doing to follow her back to the well. Think quick turnaround!
In the meantime, the disciples had started digging into their meal and trying to get Jesus to eat, too. But I think Jesus was watching the road coming out of town. He had bigger things on His mind. Sure enough, He began to see some people walking back towards Him, as He sat on the lip of Jacob's well.
Imagine Jesus watching those people walking towards Him, while the disciples kept urging Jesus to eat something,
Jesus said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." (John 4:32)
Why would Jesus phrase it in that way rather than just flat out teach them about true heart satisfaction?
He captured their attention by bringing in what their minds were occupied with. And they were all about the food. When did Jesus get food? they asked. How did He get the food? Who brought Him food? they asked as they looked meangingfully at each other.
Jesus had only a few minutes to explain to the disciples that something really big was happening,
Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. (John 4:34 ESV)
God the Son had come to accomplish God's work, salvation.
Jesus explained that doing the Father's will -- in this case, leading the Samaritan woman to salvation, and preparing to speak to her whole town -- was true nourishment to His soul. This truth, for Jesus, had been tested in the wilderness when He was tempted (right after He was baptized).
During that time of temptation Satan knew Jesus had been fasting for forty days, and that He was weak with starving. So Satan told Jesus to use His super powers to turn a stone into a loaf of bread. After all, the devil insinuated, if He died of hunger, His whole mission would be a failure.
Jesus' answer was to quote from scripture. A person did not live by bread alone, but by the word of God. Eternal life, and God's will, that is even more important than earthly life.
Now the disciples needed to know where true satisfaction in life comes from:
* Food satisfies physical hunger. In the same way, the food of God gives us meaning in life, satisfying our spiritual hunger.
* Food strengthens the body. In the same way, the food of God strengthens us spiritually. Doing God's will strengthens us for doing the greater things God has for us to do.
* Food supplies enjoyment, and doing God's will brings spiritual enjoyment.
* Food nourishes, keeps us healthy, and protects us from getting sick. In the same way, the food of God keeps us spiritually healthy.
* Food is necessary to live, we eat every day. So it is with God's will. Doing God's will is necessary when you have been born again, for God dwells within you, and every day you and I need to be in His will to receive nourishment, strength, enjoyment and health.