John 4:31-45 A Ready Harvest

There is a common progression in many activities of life. This progression is seen in baseball and that moment when pitcher and batter face off. There’s anticipation in the pitcher’s wind up and the batter’s ready stance. The climax of action when the pitcher releases the ball and when the batter swings. But the progression doesn’t end there. There is follow-through as the pitcher completes the throwing motion, and as the batter, swings through even after the ball is sailing toward the fence. In many ways, our next section of John’s Gospel is Jesus following through from His conversation with the Samaritan woman.

The rest of the story is found in John 4:31-45 and comes in two parts. The first part is Jesus’ follow through with His disciples. John records, “Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. “Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. “For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”” (John 4:31–38, NASB95)

Jesus is teaching His disciples three new ways of viewing Kingdom ministry. The first is embracing obedient following of God’s will as the ultimate satisfaction of daily life. Right up there with eating. The second is seeing beyond their understanding. In the disciple’s eyes, the Samaritans were not ready, not yet ripe, to hear the Good News of the Kingdom. But Jesus saw in the Samaritans a field begging for the harvesters. Lastly, they’re all on the same team. This is God’s field; some will sow, and some will reap, but both will enjoy the rewards of harvest.

Jesus also followed through on these lessons by staying in the Samaritan village for two days. John says, “Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”” (John 4:41–42, NASB95) The field was indeed ripe.

There are many implications in Jesus’ follow-through, which are often overshadowed by His earthquake conversation at the well. It’s like there are two worlds, two realities. That which we see with our eyes. The physical world where one must eat to be satisfied, where we judge acceptability by outward measures, and where we labor through the cycles of preparation, planting, nurturing, and harvesting. But Jesus, in this section, also revealed another reality. One where knowing and following God is the highest satisfaction. A reality where people may appear broken, unworthy, or disqualified but are also ready to respond to God’s Good News. If only someone would enter into their world. And lastly, a reality where folks humbly work together within their gifts, talents, and abilities without elevating some or devaluing others.  The sower and the reaper each enjoy the reward of the harvest.

Here’s where we must look at ourselves and ask a simple question. Why do I do for God the things I do? Is it to be accepted? To pay for felt guilt? To measure up in some way? To be loved by others? To gain financially or in status? To be liked? To be important? To hide behind responsibility? Or is it personal obedience to God and the needs of God’s field? Our motives will be evident in our follow-through.

Dale Heinold
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