Part 5: 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 5: Ripe Grain Left Standing in the Field

Just when the Messiah is revealed to the Samaritan woman, the disciples appear. Such a contrast between how Jesus interacted with her and how the disciples respond: “At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, ‘What do You seek?’ or, ‘Why do You speak with her?’” It was almost as if she wasn’t there. Where Jesus struck up a conversation with her that led to a discussion about living water, the disciples ignore her. There is a lesson here for the disciples as well as us.

“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?’” The disciples are only focused on food. Ism’t that like us? It’s so easy to get caught up in our routine, in completing tasks during the day, that we don’t stop to strike up a conversation with someone by asking, “Give me a drink.” You might be surprised what unfolds by simply asking a cashier, “How are you today?”

The disciples just cannot get off this topic of eating. “Rabbi, eat,” they tell him (31). But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about (32).” But the disciples can’t get food off their mind. They talk amongst themselves, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?”

To which Jesus explains the food he is talking about: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” Do you hunger to follow Jesus, to do His will? This is a hunger satisfied when we “accomplish His work?”

By ignoring the Samaritan woman for whatever reason, the disciples have missed someone ripe for harvest. Jesus tells them, “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” Right in front of them was a field very ripe for harvest and they missed it. Why do I say a field? Because “the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, ‘Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?’ They went out of the city, and were coming to Him (28-30).”

We might only see one person. We might feel the Spirit prompting us to talk to that person, but we hesitate and say, “But God, that woman is a Samaritan.” We might even just ignore someone, thinking talking to them is pointless. But Jesus is telling us in this passage you may be missing a whole field that is ripe for harvest. Telling one person about Jesus could lead to a field ready for harvest.

“From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done.’” Because Jesus took a moment to ask the Samaritan woman, “Give Me a drink of water,” many of the Samaritans believed in him (39). But it didn’t stop there. Jesus ended up staying two days with the Samaritans. “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.’”

Because of one person and one conversation, a whole field of ripe grain was harvested. The lesson for us is to not get so caught up in our worldly routine that we miss opportunities to share Jesus with others. We need to listen to the prompting of the Spirit — to learn to spot people who are ripe for the harvest. As John 10:2 tells us, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Just like when I was a kid on the farm, the time for harvest is short. “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.(35).”

© 2020 CGThelen

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “ If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” – John 7:37-39 (NASB)

5 thoughts on “Part 5: Discerning the Right Time to Harvest

  1. “But blessed are your eyes, for they see…” The journey of discipleship is ever one of becoming and in our becoming we “see” opportunities where in times past we would have missed. The light of Him within ever grows into new places of faith and joy.

    Be blessed.

  2. I love the story of how this unlikely person brought her whole town to Jesus. I always picture the crowd of people coming over the hill just as Jesus says, “Look! The fields are white unto harvest!” (Directing major 😉)

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