“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 spoke these words to His disciples on the heels of a significant encounter He’d had with a woman from Samaria. He’d met her at a well while the disciples were off buying food. When they returned they were surprised to find Jesus talking with a woman, not to mention a Samaritan one with whom the Jews had few encounters. While the disciples had been busy running errands, Jesus had revealed Himself to this woman as the Messiah who had come to redeem both Jews and Gentiles alike. This included her, a promiscuous woman who’d all her life tried to slake her thirst at the wells of husbands and boyfriends and live-ins. She’d finally been found by the One who could satisfy the longings of her heart and who wouldn’t leave her thirsty, or leave her at all. So she dropped her water jar and bolted back to town to tell everyone she knew that the long awaited One, who miraculously knew every detail of her life, had come to town.
The Harvest Is All Around Us
The disciples missed all this, not because they were out doing anything deviant, but because they didn’t know what they were supposed to be looking for. Privately they were wondering why in the world Jesus was talking to a Samaritan woman, and publicly they were concerned He’d skipped lunch. But in a sense Jesus was eating because He explained that His food is to do the work of His Father. What was that work? At the moment it was tending to a woman who was desperately unfulfilled at the end of a long chain of men. The disciples were standing in the midst of a harvest, whose stalks were brushing up against their shoulders, yet they couldn’t discern it. I’m afraid this is me more often than I realize.
The Harvest is Now
Jesus’s choice of a harvest imagery is interesting here because all of us go in and out of sowing and reaping seasons, each demanding a different outlook. When you’re sowing, you’re working and waiting; when you’re reaping, you’re working and gathering what you’ve been waiting for. There’s an urgency to harvest time. The season is swift and you don’t want to miss it. I think the disciples might have mistakenly thought they were in a sowing season, waiting for Jesus to take over, perhaps, as a political or socio-economic powerhouse. In John 4:35 He turned this notion on its head. He was showing the disciples that what He’d really come to do was set captives free, mend broken hearts, wash the stains of sin clean by laying down His life. And the time was now.
Open Your Eyes
Every time my sister Katie visits me in Nashville she spots a celebrity. Every. Single. Time. On her last visit she sent me this text me from a boutique. “Just saw Sheryl Crow, and I haven’t even turned my famous eyes on yet.” When Jesus told His disciples, open your eyes, I think He was saying, turn on your spiritual eyes. Turn on your hurting-people eyes. Be looking in the right places: The Harvest Field. This is simply the people we encounter in our neighborhoods and workplaces, elementary schools and coffee shops, family gatherings and mission trips. People who need an encounter with the same Jesus who changed this woman’s life while she was going about her daily business.
The time is still now. The harvest is ripe and hearts are ready.
We need only turn our harvest eyes on.