Part 4: Discerning the Right Time to Harvest

A five-part series on Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:7-45 and what it teaches us about gospel harvesting.

Part 4: Whetting the Thirst of the Parched Soul

It’s a scorching hot day. You’re sweating and overheated. There on the table in front of you is a glass of ice cold water with beads of sweat dripping down the side of the glass. Wouldn’t you immediately reach for the glass to relieve the deep thirst you feel; to soak your parched mouth? This is the Samaritan woman’s response to Jesus: “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” She reaches for that ice cold glass of living water that Jesus offers.

Yet Jesus tests her heart with a statement: “Go, call your husband and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband (17).” Jesus knows her lifestyle just as God knows our choices. But his statement prompts her to admit her lifestyle to Jesus. It shows a heart ready to admit her current choices — the source of her dissatisfaction.

Verse 17-18 give us Jesus’ response: “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” Jesus reveals to the woman that God knows everything about us and yet he still offers us living water. All we have to do is accept it with a repentant heart.

As a follower of Jesus, when the Spirit of God prompts us to talk to someone, he often gives us the right words to say. God knows the words that the person needs to hear — the person ripe for harvest who is ready to listen. As Hebrews 4:12 tells us: “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

I can almost feel the aching in the woman’s soul. Jesus’ words resonate with her. She wants that ice cold glass of living water. She wants to repent, but she only knows religion as the way to approach God. She recognizes Jesus is a prophet. She wants to worship God and she want to know how. She tells Jesus, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship (20).”

Jesus told her about real worship, worship that comes from the heart. Jesus told her: “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers (21-23).”

For a moment, consider the perspective of an unbeliever, someone who doesn’t know Jesus or the scripture. If you’re parched from life and you want a drink of living water, where do you go? Maybe a church building? But when you walk in, what will you find? It’s easy to confuse worship of God with a place or based on an awareness knowledge of God. Will you find “the true worshipers” who “will worship the Father in spirit and truth?”

God wants worship born out of a heart of His Spirit and truth. He doesn’t want worship that tries to make us feel and look good. He wants worship that humbly comes before Him seeking his living water; seeking eternal life. He doesn’t care if you are a Samaritan woman despised by Jews. God wants a repentant heart of truth that admits, “I have no husband.” He wants a heart of Spirit and truth.

The Samaritan woman reveals she knows about the Messiah. Somewhere she was taught about the Messiah; somewhere seeds were sown in her. The woman told Jesus: “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us (25).” Then Jesus tells her what she seeks is right in front of her. He told her: “I who speak to you am He.”

There are people ripe for the harvest who have heard about Jesus, heard about salvation. They have seeds of the gospel planted in them over the years. As 1 Corinthians 3:6 reminds us: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.” There comes a time when God matures the seed into a ripe plant ready for harvest. These are people God puts in our life who are suddenly ready for that ice cold glass of living water. We just need to be ready to drop everything for the harvest before the opportunity is lost.

© 2020 CGThelen

Next Friday, Part 5: Ripe Grain Left Standing in the Field

7 thoughts on “Part 4: Discerning the Right Time to Harvest

  1. Thanks. It’s interesting and insightful to look at the conversations Jesus had with people compared to how the Pharisees conversed with people. Take a look at the confrontational approach the Pharisees used with the blind man who received sight from Jesus in John 9:13:34. It’s a striking contrast to the conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well. Thanks for the comment. Blessings.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Scripture doesn’t give us that detail, but certainly the conversation indicates she was drawn to continue talking with Jesus. No doubt God’s Spirit was at work. I think we don’t have that detail in this passage so that we focus on Jesus’ words and how he engages her to talk with Him. As in so many instances in scripture, Jesus’ words are powerful and instructive — life changing. Blessings.

  3. Jesus told her some hard things, answers that did not sound like answers (Go get your husband; you worship what you do not know). What caused her to continue speaking with Him?
    First, I think it was God’s Spirit working in her.
    Second, I think it was Jesus’ face. Where she expected a face of contempt and dismissal, I think she was held by His eyes, pouring out light and love to her. He offered hope; and she knew it.

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