The Work of the Gospel When We are Tired And Weary

One of the things that I appreciate about the life of Jesus recorded for us in the Gospels is that the writers do not avoid the humanity of Jesus. In John 4, we have the account of Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well. It is the longest one-on-one conversation recorded for us in the life of Jesus. It gives a great example of how Jesus engaged people in the ordinary moments of life. And this conversation leads not only to an emotionally wounded woman coming to proclaim Jesus as Messiah but an entire village declaring Jesus “the Savior of the world.” It is an incredible story.

But what is amazing is the whole conversation was made possible because Jesus was tired. Jesus and his disciples were traveling from Judea to Galilee, a trip that would have taken multiple days. In the middle of the journey, Jesus comes to a Village in Samaria where they stop because John 4:6 tells us that Jesus was tired and weary. His disciples went into the village to buy food but Jesus stayed and rested. We are not sure why only he stayed behind but later when the disciples returned they were urging Jesus to eat something. Jesus may not have gone to the village because he did have the strength. He also could have just needed the time alone. He may have purposefully sent them all on this food mission so that he could have a break and rest. We don’t know all the circumstances but we do know verse 4 tells us he “rested wearily”.

And right in the middle of his tiredness and weariness, a woman shows up at midday to draw water from the well. This was not typically when women would come to the well. They would come in the morning before it gets hot. This would not be a moment you would expect to have someone show up. And yet soon after he sat down, a Samaritan woman comes into his tired world.

Now Jesus could have avoided this moment. He could have thought, “I am off the clock”. For Jews, they did not typically converse or have anything to do with Samaritans. No one would have thought it strange if he chose to keep to himself and wait for the disciples to return with some food.

But he chose to enter into a conversation with her and he asked her, “Please give me a drink.”

His opening question was probably meeting two purposes. One, he was tired and most likely thirsty. But two, it was also the obvious conversation starter. She was there to draw water and so he asked her for a drink.

Jesus knew his question would get a reaction. He was a Jewish man asking a Samaritan woman for water. This is not what a Jewish man did which is why verse 9 said the woman was surprised. Immediately Jesus had created an intriguing opening to engage with this woman he had just met.

Even though he was tired, he threw out a question that would get a response. And the reason is he had a desire that went beyond his own physical exhaustion. He had a desire to see people come to know life in Him. This type of conversation energized him. It fed his soul.

John 4:9-30 tells of a conversation that led to Jesus declaring He is the Messiah and the woman leaving to tell everyone in her town.

When the disciples returned, they were shocked he was talking with this Samaritan woman. But they were also concerned about his hunger and weariness and they urged Jesus to eat. In this narrative there is a side theme: the physical weariness of Jesus. His disciples left him to rest so they could get food. Jesus asking for a drink. And the disciples urging him to eat.

And yet it is in the midst of this that Jesus also tells the disciples, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about…My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.”

It can seem like a strange response from Jesus. Bu he was wanting his disciples to know that even though he did have real physical needs, there was a greater need: to proclaim the hope of the Gospel. And that people around us have a greater need: to know the hope of the Gospel.

This is not a passage that gives Christians a reason to neglect their physical health. Exhaustion in ministry is real. Jesus was often looking for opportunities to get away and be refreshed by himself.

But I also believe that too often our physical needs supersede our own spiritual needs or the spirtual needs of others. Too often we make excuses for avoiding the ministry of Christ because of earthly obligations. But I believe that Jesus is reminding his disciples that there is a hunger that needs to be satisfied that is greater than our physical hunger. And there is a nourishment that we receive that is greater than any physical nourishment. And even in times of human tiredness, we are still called into the work of the Gospel. A work that will satisfy and fulfill the weariness of our souls. I believe this why the Apostle Paul could enure his physical hardships because his joy and satisfaction was not rooted in the phsyical.

I am still thinking through the connection between the weariness of Jesus in this account and his comments about his nourishment come from doing the will of the Father. What are your thoughts?

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