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)
Jesus had just told the Samaritan woman at the well that he indeed was the Messiah when the disciples returned from the city where they had gone to buy food. The woman left the well and went into the city to tell people about the remarkable man she had met at the well. Meanwhile, the disciples wondered what Jesus could possibly have had to say to this woman, since Jews and Samaritans did not associate with one another. (Read John 4:1–26 for context.)
When the disciples offered Jesus some of the food they had just brought, He stated that His food was to do the will and work of the One who sent Him; and, as if to prepare the disciples for what was about to happen, He told them they should not always expect a long wait between the time of sowing the seeds of life (as He had just done in His conversation with the woman) and the harvest.
Jesus taught them to lift up their eyes and see the human beings around them who so needed the message He came to give. The needs were so urgent and the response of those hearing this life-giving message so immediate that the disciples may not always have to wait four months between planting and harvesting, as they did with some local crops. Jesus wanted His disciples to see that the fields were already ripe for harvest.
Indeed, many Samaritans, as a result of the woman’s testimony, were eager to meet the One who had told her all she ever did, the One Who might actually be the long-awaited Messiah. They were “already ripe for harvest”—ready to believe. Jesus wanted His disciples to enjoy the fruit of the sowing He had done while they were off buying food, so they could rejoice together. He wanted to teach them to expect spiritual results even where they had not sown the seeds of His message. We never know how ready people are. Jesus calls us to be alert so that we can watch for hungry hearts.
In this particular command, Jesus is saying that we should always be ready to reap. Don’t put off the harvesting. The gospel message is vital, life changing, and powerful. People lost in sin need the message now. Some will respond with faith instantaneously. As a wise evangelist once said, “You can be saved in an instant of faith.” It doesn’t need to take a long time.
There is a wonderful promise in connection with this command: “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” (v. 36).
Lord, help me to share my love for Jesus with others, expecting that You can cause them to respond readily. Help me to be watchful for those whose hearts are ripe for harvest. Give me the courage I need to speak when I should and the wisdom to be quiet when I need to be. Thank You for allowing me to be a part of Your harvest work.
–Adapted from Encountering Jesus: Praying the Commands of Christ into Your Life by Norval Hadley. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Extra Commands to Pray. A FREE PDF DOWNLOAD that goes along with the book, Encountering Jesus: Praying the Commands of Christ into Your Life. It includes content for additional commands that the book does not cover.
Praise God that Jesus Christ is coming again to bring all things to perfection. Thank the Lord that you can anticipate dwelling with him in a new heaven and earth. Confess any attitudes or actions which are hindering the coming kingdom. Commit yourself to watching and praying, being ready for the coming of Christ. Ask that you may live in a way pleasing to God, so that he might say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Mt 25:21).
Ask God to make his people generous in giving their time and gifts for the benefit of others. Ask that the love of Christ will be evident in the care Christians give to each other.
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