The Disciples Were Puzzled
When the disciples returned from obtaining food, they were shocked that Jesus was conversing with a woman, and especially a Samaritan; but they did not interrupt. They were learning that their Master knew what He was doing and did not need there counsel. But, after the woman left, they urged Jesus to share the meal with them, because they knew that He was hungry.
It’s Harvest Time
In the meantime, the disciples pressed him, “Rabbi, eat. Aren’t you going to eat?”
He told them, “I have food to eat you know nothing about.”
The disciples were puzzled. “Who could have brought him food?”
Jesus said, “The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started. As you look around right now, wouldn’t you say that in about four months it will be time to harvest? Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It’s harvest time!
John 4:31-35 (MSG)
I have food to eat you know nothing about was His reply and, as usual, they did not understand it. They thought He was speaking of literal food, and they wondered where He got it. Then He explained that doing the Father’s will—in this case, leading the woman to salvation—was true nourishment for His soul. The disciples were satisfied with bread, but He was satisfied with accomplishing the Father’s work.
“Seek your life’s nourishment in your life’s work,” said Phillips Brooks. The will of God ought to be a source of strength and satisfaction to the child of God, just as if he sat down to a sumptuous feast. If what we are doing tears us down instead of builds us up, then we may well question whether it is the will of God for us.
Our Lord did not look on the Father’s will as a heavy burden or a distasteful task. He viewed His work as the very nourishment of His soul. Doing the Father’s will fed Him and satisfied Him inwardly. “I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.” (Ps. 40:8). The Samaritan woman was now doing the Father’s will and finding excitement and enrichment in it.
Jesus then changed the image from that of food to that of the harvest, which is the source of the food. He quoted the familiar Jewish proverb about waiting for the harvest, and then pointed to the villagers even then coming out to the well to meet Him, thanks to the witness of the woman. The disciples went into the village to get food for them, but they did no evangelizing. The woman took their place!
The image of the harvest is a familiar one in the Bible and is often applied to the ministry of winning lost souls. Both the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Tares (Matt. 13:1-30) relate to this theme, and Paul used it in his letters (Rom. 1:13; 1 Cor. 3:6-9; Gal. 6:9). We plant the seed of God’s Word in the hearts of people who hear it, and we seek to cultivate that seed by our love and prayers. In due time, that seed may bear fruit to the glory of God.
You have heard others say, “Be patient; we have four more months to wait until the crops are ready for the harvest.” I say, take a closer look and you will see that the fields are ripe and ready for the harvest.
John 4:35 (VOICE)
Naturally speaking, it should take a minimum of four months for seed to be reaped as a full-grown harvest. But that time frame didn’t apply in the case of the Samaritan woman. Seed had been sown into her heart just a short time earlier – yet it was already time to reap! That is Jesus told his disciples, “take a closer look and you will see that the fields are ripe and ready for the harvest.”
When the disciples turned around and looked, they could see multitudes pushing through the vast field as they made their way to Jesus. It must have been an amazing sight to the disciples. After all, this Samaritan woman had gone to her town only a few hours earlier, and already there was such a large response to her testimony! Jesus had sown seed into one Samaritan woman’s heart, but He was already reaping a massive harvest of souls.
I want you to notice in the King James Version that Jesus said “…they are white already to harvest.” Jesus was not referring to the unripe wheat fields, but to the people who were coming to see Him. One scholar has noted that workers in small villages were known to wear white workers’ garments. The village of workers was so affected by the Samaritan woman’s testimony that they dropped what they were doing and immediately went to see Jesus, still dressed in their white workers’ garments. When the Lord saw a crowd of people coming toward Him dressed in white, He didn’t see white garments; He saw a harvest that was white and ready to be reaped among the Samaritans.
As the crowd approached Jesus, He told the disciples,
The one who reaps receives pay and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that the one who sows and the one who reaps can rejoice together. For in this instance the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’
John 4:36-37 (NET)
Jesus was the One, who sowed the first seed into the heart of the Samaritan woman, but now it was time to reap – and it requires many more hands to reap than it does to sow. Jesus was the Sower, but the harvest could not be fully reaped and retained without the help of His disciples. Jesus felt great joy as He watched this harvest of souls coming in so quickly. However, now it would also be the disciple’s great joy to help Jesus swing the sickle and bring these souls to God. Jesus sowed the seed, but it was essential for the disciples to help Him reap.
In John 4:38, Jesus said,
“I sent you to reap what you did not work for; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”
Jesus alone had sown the seed into the heart of the woman at the well. At the time He did this, His disciples were in the village looking for food. But now the disciples were privileged to participate in a huge reaping extravaganza for which they had done no work at all! They were literally entering into a harvest that was white and ready to be reaped because Jesus had taken the time to sow seed into a single person’s heart.
Spiritual harvest often comes more quickly than natural harvests. It may take four months for wheat to be ready to be reaped. However, don’t think that it will always take a long time before you see people respond to the Word you sow into their hearts. The souls of men are often ready to be reaped for the Kingdom of God very quickly after the initial sowing.
Also, please don’t think that your role in sowing seed is small and insignificant. Remember, Jesus sowed a single seed into the heart of one person, yet that isolated event produced a harvest so huge that an entire village came to Jesus Christ. In the same way, the seed you sow into someone’s heart today may be the very seed that produces the next massive harvest for the Kingdom of God!
So the next time you find yourself talking to someone about Jesus Christ or sharing the truths of God’s Word with a stranger, don’t allow the devil to tell you that you’re wasting your time. You may be planting the very seed that will bring salvation to an entire group of people. And when the harvest is ready to be reaped, don’t be threatened by people who join you in the reaping process of what you have sown. Harvests always require more reapers than sowers, so be thankful that one plants and others come alongside to help you reap!
Regardless of how or where the seed of God’s Word is sown by believers, every seed sown is powerful and has an eternal effect. Never forget that fact as you go through your day using YOUR life as a pulpit for sowing the life-changing seed of the Gospel!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I never realized the power that one single seed could make on such a large group of people. I have mistakenly thought that witnessing to one person was not as important as preaching to multitudes. Please forgive me for overlooking the power of a single seed sown into the human heart. Holy Spirit, I want to be ready when the harvest comes in – and that includes having enough friends and coworkers on hand to pitch in and help. So I ask You to dispatch a group of ready and willing workers who can step into the harvest field and assist me in bringing in the sheaves!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
DECLARATION OF FAITH
God has sent me into the world to proclaim His own message – the good news of the kingdom. He does not give me His Spirit sparingly, but fills me to overflowing with Himself.
My Father’s love has been poured out upon me. He has entrusted all things into the hand of Jesus and Jesus, in turn, has made me an ambassador on His behalf.
I believe in Jesus with all of my heart and right now, this very minute, I have eternal life. I shall never be condemned or experience God’s wrath.
I pray this declaration of faith in Jesus’ name!