John 4:31-38 — In the mean while His disciples prayed Him, saying, Master, eat.
But He said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.
Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought Him ought to eat?
Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors.
meat = food. That which satisfies.
to do the will of Him that sent Me (He was sent for a purpose) — taking the role of a servant. For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day (John 6:38-39). But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:7-8).
finish His work — His death and resurrection. I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do (John 17:4). When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost (John 19:30). God's work is appointing us for salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Christ's work is doing the actual saving. He finishes the work.
What He was accomplishing for the world, He had just accomplished for the Samaritan woman.
The disciples considered Samaria an unlikely field. They thought it would take a long time and a lot of work to harvest.
There are yet four months … harvest — Probably a cliche of the time to indicate the period between sowing and reaping.
Lift up your eyes — perhaps Jesus pointed at the approaching crowd of Samaritans. In this case, sowing and reaping occurred one right after the other.
The reaper of a spiritual harvest receives spiritual wages — fruit — bringing others to eternal life. Sowing is labor. Reapers enjoy the rewards of the sowers' efforts. Unlike in a physical harvest, where only the reaper rejoices in the fruit, in a spiritual harvest, both the sower and the reaper rejoice and receive wages.
that saying — He was referring perhaps to Micah 6:15 — Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine. Or perhaps this was another adage of the time.
other men labored — Old Testament prophets and John the Baptist. Labored = same word used in verse 6 as "wearied."
Verse 38 is perhaps a reference to events in Matthew 10:7-8: And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
"He that reapeth receiveth wages" seems to mean, This is a work in which it is indeed a privilege to be engaged, for the laborer receives a glorious reward, inasmuch as he "gathereth fruit unto life eternal." The reward is an eternal one, for not only do those saved through the labors of the reaper receive eternal life, but because of this the joy of both will be eternal too. "That both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together." The sower may have labored hard toward the salvation of souls, and yet never be permitted to witness in this life the success which God gave to his efforts. The reaper, however, does witness the ingathering; nevertheless, both sower and reaper shall rejoice together in the everlasting salvation of those garnered through their joint efforts. — Exposition of the Gospel of John: Volume 1, by Arthur W. Pink, page 220.