John 4: 27-35; 39-42
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?’
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could this be the Messiah?’ They came out of the town and made their way towards him.
Meanwhile his disciples urged him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’
But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’
Then his disciples said to each other, ‘Could someone have brought him food?’
‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, “It’s still four months until harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I’ve ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.’
Once this Samaritan woman has an encounter with Jesus she can’t help but tell others about him. She wants her neighbours to experience the grace and transformation she has found. Her words clearly have an impact on her local community because we read:
“They came out of the town and made their way towards him.”
The disciples, however, seem much more concerned with eating lunch than with reaching lost people. Jesus uses the discussion about food as an opportunity to teach them important spiritual truths, telling them that his greatest satisfaction is not in filling his stomach with food but in doing his Father’s will. Steven Furtick puts it well: “While the disciples were meal-minded, Jesus was mission-minded.”
A Messiah on a mission, Jesus then begins to teach them about harvest. Often when we hear the term ‘harvest’ we think of the joy of reaping what we have previously sown. Our hard work has paid off and we now get to collect the spoils. While that may in a sense be true, any seasoned farmer knows that harvesting means long days and hard work. You can’t reap the harvest sitting in a recliner chair with your feet up. It is an urgent task. You only have a limited time to harvest otherwise the crop will rot and be ruined. You must reap when the harvest is ready.
I believe we are living at a time when the fields are ripe and ready for harvest. Think about the thousands of individuals on the streets of our own community who have said ‘yes’ to Jesus in recent years. Consider the crowds who show up every Saturday to be prayed for at HOTS. Now there are reports of similar things happening across the UK and further afield. These are truly exciting times to be a follower of Jesus. The harvest is ripe and ready. However, many Christians are more meal-minded than mission-minded. We are more concerned with consuming than reaching. We are so wrapped up in our immediate needs and desires that we ignore the real brokenness and hurt all around us.
Look at what Jesus says:
“Don’t you have a saying, “It’s still four months until harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
This is fascinating. Often when we talk about reaping the harvest we are future-minded: “One day God will move"; "Someday we’ll see revival"; "Keep praying for a great work of God".
Jesus is saying, “Open your eyes, the harvest is right in front of you.”
At that very moment, as Jesus says this, I can picture crowds of men, women and children from this Samaritan woman’s village streaming towards the well where Jesus and his disciples are sitting. They represent that harvest Jesus is speaking of but the disciples don’t recognise it because it’s not what they had expected. It was a harvest of Samaritans - a people group that the Jews despised.
Often God sends us the harvest as people who are less than perfect and situations that are far from ideal. What we see as a problem, Jesus sees as a potential world-changer; what we regard as hard work, Jesus calls a harvest.
Don't miss what God places right in front of you today because it's not what you expected. The fields are ripe, it's time to reap.
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday at 9.30 am and 11.30 am.