Reaping the Harvest (Equipping Class 7)

John 4 The Message (MSG)

It’s Harvest Time

31 In the meantime, the disciples pressed him, “Rabbi, eat. Aren’t you going to eat?”

32 He told them, “I have food to eat you know nothing about.”

33 The disciples were puzzled. “Who could have brought him food?”

34-35 Jesus said, “The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started. As you look around right now, wouldn’t you say that in about four months it will be time to harvest? Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It’s harvest time!

36-38 “The Harvester isn’t waiting. He’s taking his pay, gathering in this grain that’s ripe for eternal life. Now the Sower is arm in arm with the Harvester, triumphant. That’s the truth of the saying, ‘This one sows, that one harvests.’ I sent you to harvest a field you never worked. Without lifting a finger, you have walked in on a field worked long and hard by others.”

39-42 Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to him because of the woman’s witness: “He knew all about the things I did. He knows me inside and out!” They asked him to stay on, so Jesus stayed two days. A lot more people entrusted their lives to him when they heard what he had to say. They said to the woman, “We’re no longer taking this on your say-so. We’ve heard it for ourselves and know it for sure. He’s the Savior of the world!”

1) What did the disciples see when they looked into the world? What did Jesus see? What do we see?

2) What is the correlation between the parables of “food, harvest, reaping, sowing, wages” and missional outreach? What is the purpose of using these parables?

3) Why did the Samaritans believe (two reasons)? How do you think their belief changed or strengthened after they spoke with Jesus personally? How can we do the same for believers today so they will continue to believe?

4) What is the significance of the phrase "Savior of the world" in this context? What does it mean for us?

Jesus had an entirely different focus than the disciples. While the Samaritan woman was returning to her village to tell them about her encounter with Jesus, the disciples were pressing Jesus to eat. They didn't realize the tremendous harvest that was about to take place. But Jesus could see beyond what his physical senses could register. He saw the harvest.

There are two people that work together for a harvest, a sower and a reaper. The sower is the one who plants and prepares the field for good growth. The reaper or harvester is the one who gathers the rewards of the sower's hard work, but together, they enjoy the harvest. Jesus said the field was worked long and hard by others, but the disciples were going to see the rewards of that hard work.

Jesus was the one sowing seeds into the woman, but historically, the Samaritans had the background to believe in God's Messiah. What seemed like one conversation was actually thousands of years in the making and it all culminated in a harvest in which the disciples didn't even lift a finger to bring it to pass. They had limited vision, but Jesus told them to open their eyes and look at what was right in front of them.

We can often make the mistake of thinking the harvest is way over there or sometime way in the future, but Jesus told his disciples it is here and it is now. It is hard to believe it when we use our physical eyes, but when we can see the work of the sower(s) through history, we are able to take part in a harvest, making the sower's joy complete.

Through the Samaritan woman's witness, many of the Samaritans committed themselves to Jesus, but they had not heard Jesus for themselves yet, nor had they any relationship with him. It is similar to people today who go to a Christian service or hear a message about Jesus. They may be intrigued and inspired, but that is only one level of commitment.

After they could hear Jesus personally, a lot more people committed themselves to Jesus. Even those who were willing to believe at first were strengthened when they heard Jesus confirm what the woman said about him. At that point, they were ready to declare that Jesus is the Savior of the world. What a statement! Many today are not willing to make that statement so unashamedly because they have not had that personal encounter with Jesus.

Jesus is the Savior of the world, not just the Savior of Jerusalem or Samaria. His kingdom extends from sea to sea through his people on the earth and one day he will rule physically when he returns again. Wherever you are and whoever you are speaking with, Jesus is relevant for them because he is the Savior of the world!

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