Spiritual Harvesting (John 4:31-38)
Everyone touched by life on a farm knows the urgency of harvesttime and the joy that follows. Jesus lived in that kind of world. His most basic parable spoke of Jesus as a Sower of seed which yielded a varied harvest (Matt. 13:3-9). When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well in Samaria, she became a spiritual harvest. He took advantage of her spiritual conversion to teach His disciples some truth about spiritual harvesting. Jesus sends you into the spiritual harvest with a sense of urgency that intensifies life.
Spiritual Harvesting Sustains Life
Spiritual harvesting brings a different understanding of life. Some live life at the physical level alone. The question of the disciples betrays life on the physical level alone: "Rabbi, eat something" (v. 31). They had a genuine concern for the hunger and physical fatigue of their Master. Jesus did have to eat, but He had moved beyond life on the merely physical level: "I have food to eat that you know nothing about" (v. 32). This statement baffled His followers.
Spiritual harvesting brings a different sustaining of life. Jesus' life was sustained by a more than physical source. He would later say, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life" (6:27). That which sustains life more than physical food is doing the will of God. Specifically, His work of witness and winning the Samaritan woman to faith in Himself had sustained Him inwardly with a nourishment far more energizing than food itself.
Going with Christ after the lost gives to life an inward energy that nothing else can match. To share His vision of the world, to feel His compassion for the lost, and to see others come to Christ sustains life with energy and purpose that nothing else can replace.
Spiritual Harvesting Intensifies Life
In the usual physical harvest there is a long wait between sowing and reaping. During Jesus' life there were about four months between the time grain was sown in January and harvested in May. It was almost a proverb to say, "There are four months till harvest." At the very time of this story the seed had already sprouted and the young shoots of grain promised a harvest to come in the Samaritan grain fields. But they still had to wait for the physical harvest.
In the unusual spiritual harvest you can reap now. Jesus calls for a deliberate and careful gaze at humanity around you. If you will "lift up your eyes" there is a harvest already around you. Even as Jesus spoke these words the Samaritans were streaming out of the village to meet Him. Over the the next two days there was a mighty spiritual harvest of new life (v. 41). You do not have to wait for spiritual harvest—it is ready now.
Most believers spend life getting ready to witness, training to witness, or waiting for the right situation to witness. What Jesus said then He would say now. The harvest is ready. Not everyone everywhere is ready but someone somewhere is ready just now.
Spiritual Harvesting Enlarges Life
The usual physical harvest is often unfair. One person sows the seed as an act of great labor. Another person reaps the grain as an act of great joy. In Jesus' world plowing and planting were hot and tedious work. A rich landlord would come to reap the harvest long after poor servants had prepared and sowed the crop.
The usual physical harvest is more than fair. Often the sower and reaper move together. Jesus had just sown the word into the heart of the Samaritan woman. Not only did she come to Christ immediately, but also many others. But the spiritual harvest is an even greater gift. We often reap in the spiritual harvest where we have not sown. Others have gone before us to prepare the lives of those we win. Those others include the Old Testament saints, Christ, the apostles, and all the Christians in this place before us.
To be part of spiritual harvesting enlarges life. The spiritual harvest makes you part of something larger and longer than you are. Would you like to be part of something that is 2,000 years in the making? Get into the harvest. Bring someone to Christ. The harvest will enlarge the narrow confines of your life.