John 4:27-34 reads - "And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, 'What do You seek?' or, 'Why are You talking with her?' The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 'Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?' Then they went out of the city and came to Him. In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, 'Rabbi, eat.' But He said to them, 'I have food to eat of which you do not know.' Therefore His disciples said to one another, 'Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?' Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.'"
The disciples returned from their trip into the village to obtain food just as the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman was ending. It was to them a matter of no little wonder that He was speaking to this woman--any woman, for that matter! It is difficult for us today to understand the lowly position given to women back then. The Rabbis had ruled: "Let no one talk with a woman on the street, no not with his own wife." This particular woman was a Samaritan and she was thus regarded with less respect than a Jewish woman would have been by the average Jew. The general Jewish contempt for women was evidenced in the ease with which a man might divorce his wife over the most trivial of excuses. This exceptional action of Jesus was a matter of wonder to His disciples, but they didn't ask for an explanation (likely because of their respect for Him).
The woman returned to the city and invited her fellow Samaritans to "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did" (cf. 1:46). Jesus had not, of course, told her everything she ever did, but He had told her enough for her to know that all she had ever done was laid out before Him and that He could tell all of it to the most minute detail if He chose to do so.
As she invited them to come, she also asked - "Could this be the Christ?" Observe how the woman had changed her mind concerning Jesus. She had first called him a "Jew" (4:9), then "Sir" (4:11), then "prophet" (4:19), and now she invites her city to come forth and see "the Christ." They respond positively to her invitation.
After she departed--but before the arrival of her fellow townsmen--Jesus' disciples exhorted Him to eat since they now had food. Jesus, in His response, once again spoke of a physical object and made a spiritual application. He had food to eat of which they had no knowledge. That is, the joy Jesus experienced in knowing that He had reached the heart of the Samaritan woman and set in motion that which would result in the salvation of multitudes of people, had removed, for the time being, any physical hunger He otherwise may have felt. The disciples utterly fail to grasp the significance of Jesus' words. They wondered if perhaps someone brought Him some food while they were gone.
In 4:34, Jesus explained Himself by saying - "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." Jesus was so absorbed in the accomplishment of His mission on Earth (Luke 19:10) and so intent on doing the will of the Father that physical needs and desires often vanished. All those who love the Lord today need to learn that the chief object in life is not the gratification of fleshly desires or the satisfaction of worldly needs but the total commitment of one's whole being to God's will.
We will conclude this study of Jesus' interaction with the Samaritans tomorrow.