But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.”
“Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other.
Have you ever entered a room right after a heated argument has just taken place? Or did you ever walk in on an intense and intensely private conversation between two people? Your presence is an awkward interruption to the moment. Depending on who is interrupted and what they’re in the middle of, it’s usually more uncomfortable for the intruder than the intruded.
Jesus’ disciples did just that while he was talking to a Samaritan woman at a well outside a town called Sychar. They showed up with a sandwich delivery right after Jesus finished having an intense conversation with this woman, and everything about the scene was taboo to them. She was alone. She was a Samaritan. She was a publicly outcast woman. She had one of “those” reputations. Jesus was a devout Jewish rabbi, their master and mentor. They couldn’t be certain exactly what his motives were for engaging her in conversation, but this couldn’t be good for his reputation or theirs.
Or so they thought.
Let’s back up a little bit. Jesus sent them away to got get him some lunch. He consciously dismissed them from being around. Was it coincidence or by design that the disciples were absent from the resulting conversation? Was it easier to send them on this errand than to tell them the truth: that they would get in the way of allowing this woman access to God? Jesus was about to cross major social, cultural and spiritual boundaries to connect with the soul of a woman bound by stigma and shame; and he somehow knew they might spoil the moment with their presence and prejudice.
When they get back with their delivery, Jesus says he already ate. It’s some kind of mystery meat that they’re not aware of. They start to question each other about who’s been working for Jimmy John’s, but they’ve already missed the point. Jesus was on mission, trying to connect people to God his father. His nourishment, his meat, came from engaging in that activity more than anything
else. It drove him. His disciples were okay with his mission as long as it involved their people.
Jesus tells his disciples to look around them at the fields that were already ripe for harvest. In fact, this one woman was primarily responsible for the two-day revival that came to her entire village. Sounds like she and her community were a ripe harvest. But did the disciples see it that way? Seems not.
Do I see it that way? Do I see those around me as ripe for God’s harvest or do I withhold myself from accessibility and availability to his work? Do I actively engage those who society deems unworthy in an effort to connect them to God? Are there times in my life where Jesus sends me away because I might get in the way? It’s a challenging question to ask myself.
As Jesus encouraged his disciples, “open your eyes and look and see that the fields are ripe for harvest,” start with a simple, but dangerous, question: who do I see around me might make me feel uncomfortable, who I might consider taboo? They might be the very people God is calling you to. They might be your harvest. Be bold and step out in obedience to God’s leading and be amazed at how God brings about a great harvest in your home, your school, your work place, your neighborhood, your community and beyond.