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Friday, June 24, 2016

New Harvest – John 4:35-38

          “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest: I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.’” John 4:35

            The Samaritan woman has left her water jar with Jesus and has gone into the town to tell the inhabitants the good news about Christ. Previously, she had avoided people because of her shame. But now, she is bold and unashamed to tell them about the Man she has met at Jacob’s well who told her all about herself. She left her water jar to assure Jesus that she would return to Him. While she is gone, Jesus will teach His disciples about “new food” and a “new harvest.”

            There must have been a field of barley near where Jesus was teaching. Jesus will use this earthly field to teach His disciples about His new spiritual harvest through them. In an earthly harvest, it takes four months after the seed is planted to bear a harvest. There is a time limit. But Jesus is speaking about a “new” spiritual harvest that is ready now. Jesus who is all-knowing knew that the Samaritan woman to whom He had sown the seed of His Word would be bringing Him a harvest of souls now. Christ’s spiritual harvest is all around us. Today is the day of salvation. An earthly harvest takes many laborers just as His spiritual harvest takes many laborers. In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus said that the harvest is great but the laborers are few. Jesus is telling His disciples that the harvest is ready now but there are few spiritual laborers to gather it.

Lost souls are like fields ready for harvesting. Jesus wants His followers to gather a spiritual harvest of souls from the earth. Jesus made it clear in scripture that He is the Sower of the Seed (Word). He spoke a parable about the Sower and the seed in Matthew, Mark and Luke. He wants His followers to also sow the seed of His Anointed Word on the earth. The Word and Holy Spirit breathe life into those who are lost and will bring in a harvest of souls to Jesus.

            As there is a process for an earthly, matured harvest, there is also a process in the spiritual harvest of souls. The harvest is a culmination of a whole process that has taken place. In an earthly field, first the field must be cleared and plowed. Then the seed must be sown and nurtured with water and plant food. Next, when weeds grow among the crop, they must be pulled out or put to death. Perhaps the longest part of the process is to wait for the fruit. Since the “natural” speaks to the “supernatural,” God works the same way with His spiritual crop. The seed of the Word must be sown into the hearts and minds of humanity. The ground of their stony hearts must be turned over and the rocks removed to receive the Seed. Then the seed must be watered by the water of life – the Holy Spirit -- and fed the nourishment of the Bread of Life – Jesus/Word. When weeds grow along with the grain, they must be removed. As the sun and rain nurture earthly seed, Jesus and the Holy Spirit nurture His spiritual seed. Waiting upon God to bring the planted seed to bear fruit is possibly the hardest part. In this day and age, we want instant results. But God is not in a hurry! He wants to make sure the crop is matured and ready before it bears fruit. God will bring forth fruit in His time. (see Galatians 6:8;; Psalms 126:5)

            Jesus told His disciples to “Open your eyes.” Jesus wanted them to have spiritual vision – to look beyond the “natural” and see in the “spiritual.” There are people needing to hear the Gospel of Jesus. The redeemed Samaritan woman brought a whole town to Jesus by her testimony. “Come see a Man.” In other words, “Come and see for yourself if this is the Christ.”

            A harvest that is ready must be harvested quickly. Mark 4:29: “But when the harvest ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle because the harvest has come.”  This redeemed Samaritan woman went quickly to share the Good News of Jesus with others. Jesus’s disciples went to get earthly food for Jesus, but this Samaritan woman brought a spiritual harvest of souls to Jesus. Perhaps when Jesus was telling His disciples to look at the fields, they saw this crowd of people coming to Jesus because of the testimony of this one redeemed Samaritan woman. She did what Jesus was teaching His disciples about food and the harvest. At the end of time, Jesus will come quickly to gather His spiritual harvest gained by the fruit of His dedicated followers. Jesus came to earth the first time to labor for the souls of humanity. He will come again at the end of time to gather a spiritual harvest of souls to His Kingdom.

            In Revelation, Jesus used the word “quickly” seven times as follows:

  • Revelation 2:5 – a warning to the Church at Ephesus to repent and do the things they did at first or He would come quickly to them and remove their lampstand (light).
  • Revelation 2:16 – a warning to the Church of Pergamum to repent from the false teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans  or He would quickly come and fight against them with the sword of His mouth (Word).
  • Revelation 3:11 – instruction to the Church of Philadelphia to be faithful with what they have so no one can take their crown away because He is coming quickly. Philadelphia was the Church of brotherly love.
  • Revelation 11:14 – to warn that the third woe (judgment) was coming quickly.
  • Revelation 22:7 – to assure that those who are faithful and keep the Word of God will be blessed.
  • Revelation 22:12 – to assure His faithful followers that His reward will be with Him to give to everyone according to what each person has done for His Kingdom.
  • Revelation 22:20 – His final promise, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Jesus will harvest the souls that He has brought to Himself through His followers. Revelation 14:14: Then I looked and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. Jesus is both the Sower and the Reaper. In Him, all things consist.

Sowers and Reapers

          “Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus, the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true.” John 4:36-37

            Since Jesus is the One who sows the Seed and also the One who reaps the harvest, He is drawing His wages of saved souls brought to Him by His followers even now. His disciples are His sowers and reapers. Christians too are to plant the seed of the Word of God in the hearts of others. Another may cultivate it, and yet another reap the harvest of those souls. The sower begins the process making it possible for the reapers to reap. Jesus wants us to sharpen our sickle. In other words, get a hold of God’s Truth and understand it. You cannot sow or reap without the wisdom of the Word of God. Some will sow. Others will feed and nurture, and still others will bring in the mature harvest, but all are laborers for One Lord. There is to be no competition in Jesus’s spiritual harvest. Both the sowers and the reapers will all receive their reward from Jesus.

            The Apostle Paul understood sowing and reaping. He said in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow.” God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are to get all of the glory. Paul goes on to say as Jesus did, “The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. V8 The more seed that is planted, the more grain and fruit are harvested!

            Sowers and reapers are to rejoice together as one. Harvest time is a time of great joy. The farmers and the laborers have worked hard for the harvest, so it is a time of rejoicing and gratitude. When the final harvest of souls is gathered to Jesus, there will be great rejoicing in heaven.

            Sowing and reaping is a law in the “natural” realm as well as the “spiritual” realm. In Genesis 1:12, God created seed-bearing plants and trees that would bear fruit according to their kind. The seed was in the fruit which would reproduce according to its kind. This is also true in the spiritual realm. God sent His Seed – Jesus – into the world to produce seed and fruit of like kind. The Seed of the Anointed Word produces the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We are to become like Christ. The “natural” seed and fruit that would reproduce according to its kind was given to Adam and Eve for food to nourish their bodies. The same is true in the spiritual. The Seed of the Word and the fruit of the Holy Spirit are to nourish the Body of Christ.

            God warned Israel that if they followed idols, the law of sowing and reaping would stop and their crops would fail. They would plant seed in vain. (see Leviticus 26:14-17)

            The New Testament also tells us that we will reap what we sow. We must be careful to choose our words and actions carefully because whether good or bad, they will reap a harvest. Matthew 12:33: Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.  If we sow from the ways of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we will bear good spiritual fruit. If we sow to the flesh and the devil, we will bear bad spiritual fruit. (see Galatians 6:9; Proverbs 11:18) In the end, there will be a spiritual harvest of both. The good fruit will be gathered to Jesus for eternal life, but the bad will be gathered and burnt up. (see Revelation 14:14-18)

 Samaritan Woman’s Harvest

          The redeemed Samaritan woman quickly brought a harvest of souls to Jesus. Jesus had sown His Truth into her heart, and she shared that Truth with others. She returned to the well and Jesus with many others so they could see Jesus for themselves. As bad as this Samaritan woman once was, she heard Jesus’s word, believed it and shared His seed with others. These townspeople also became hungry hearts seeking the Messiah. The Samaritan woman introduced them to Jesus, but it was His words that convinced them that He was their Messiah. The townspeople asked Jesus to abide with them for two days so He could teach them more. Jesus did. Jesus never turns away hungry hearts. Many believed in Jesus. They had heard the woman’s testimony, but now “we have heard for ourselves; now we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”  They “heard” Jesus’ own words and now they “know” because they heard from His own mouth.

            Jesus labored unendingly to carry out God’s will while He walked on earth. He never abandoned His godly purpose even though there were those who rose up against Him. He is continuing His Father’s work with the Father and the Holy Spirit in His heavenly abode. He was eternally tied to the Father and the Holy Spirit in the beginning at creation, through His short earthly life, and is tied to them forever in the spiritual realm. They are One. Jesus never spoke or acted out of His flesh nature like we do. He was pure even in His flesh body. Those who now follow and serve Him are His flesh Body. May we sow the good seed and reap a harvest of souls for Christ.         

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