Jesus and the heavenly harvest. The Church’s work. Studying John 4:35-42

A time to harvest 

Once again, Jesus uses a metaphor to point to a spiritual reality. 

Verse 35: 

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? 

Obviously in farming, there’s a gap between sowing, when you plant seeds, and when you harvest the crops. You don’t plant seeds today with the expectation that you’ll be able to harvest them tomorrow. It takes time.

But Jesus is telling his disciples that he has planted his truth with the Samaritan woman and that a harvest among the Samaritan people awaits. 

That they are at the time of a harvest. A harvest of salvation as people come to Jesus. 

Continuing in verse 35. Jesus says: 

Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 

In John 4:30, when the Samaritan woman was telling her countrymen about Jesus and that verse said that the people went out of the town and were coming for him. 

Here, Jesus tells his his disciples “lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” 

Some scholars believe that as Jesus is saying that, they’re literally seeing Samaritan people approaching to learn more about this Israelite teacher and who he is. We don’t know that for sure. But regardless, Jesus is making the point that they’re in the midst of a people where they are ready to reap a harvest. That the news about Jesus is going to bear a harvest among the people. 

The harvest for today 

There will be opportunities through all of the uncertainties and difficulties of this season to be light, to serve God by serving others, and to share the good news of the gospel. 

Because in a time of uncertainty, people look for a foundation. In times of questions, people look for answers. In times of crisis, people look for hope. As Christians, what are we going to do with this time? 

Look around. Look at our community. 

Life up your eyes and see the fields are white for harvest. 

It is a time of harvest. A time of revival. A time to reach people for Christ. 

Verse 36:

Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together

The verse is a little ambiguous. Who’s the reaper and who’s the sower? 

Who’s the one who planted here? Is it Jesus? Is it the prophets of the Old Testament? Is it John the Baptist? Is it the Samaritan woman? 

It could be that it’s intentionally ambiguous. That the matter of significance is not who does what, but that a Messianic age of gospel harvest has been brought forth by Jesus. The Word of God has been planted and there will be others who reap the harvest of salvation. 

All of it is for God, to the glory of God, and for the salvation of souls through the power of the gospel. 

The sower and reaper rejoice together. They are co-laborers in the mission of God. 

37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 

Some sow the word of the gospel. Others reap the harvest. Some preach the word, and some lead people to Christ. And those roles can work vice versa. 


When people share the gospel with a friend, or family worker, or coworker, or person on the street, generally, a person does not come to faith in the gospel through just one conversation. 

So sometimes we’re the ones who sow, who plant the seed. Who share the gospel and the salvation which comes through Jesus. 

But sometimes the harvest doesn’t come for weeks, months, years, sometimes it never comes with a certain person. 

But we sow the word. Hopefully we do it often. 

But sometimes it’s someone else, another friend, a pastor, someone else who helps lead a person to Christ. They’ve reaped that harvest. 

The credit isn’t what matters. The service to God is what matters. And our hope is to be part of both parts of the process.

Reaping and sowing. 

Jesus says: 

38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

When Jesus tells the disciples to reap for which they did not labor, they’re about to be part of a harvest with these Samaritan people, even though they had not personally planted the word. But they were there to help harvest the souls. 

Both aspects of ministry, evangelism, and making disciples matter. Again, the credit isn’t what matters. It’s faithfully continually sharing the Word of God and making disciples which matters. 

A personal savior

We see the fruit of this one woman reaching out to people in her Samaritan community. 

39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days

The text says many Samaritans believed. Centuries of ethinic and theological animosity had existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. And yet, here we see the Samaritans coming to Jesus. 

Verse 40 says: 

 they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days

And the harvest continued. 

41 And many more believed because of his word.

 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

That’s not a putdown to the Samaritan woman. Our purpose is to make Jesus known and to point people to him, not to be out for our own glory. It wasn’t just hearing about Jesus which led people to Christ, but it was coming to know Jesus. 

It was experiencing Jesus.I think we too often get too formulaic when talking about salvation. Just say this prayer, just say these things and you’ll be saved. Let us not make evangelism impersonal, but to make our sharing of the good news of Christ introducing people to a personal savior. For the Samaritan people, they had the awesome opportunity to approach Jesus physically. 

But we also have the awesome opportunity to look to him, look to his life, and know the full story. That when the Samaritan woman asked “can this be the Christ?” The rest of his life, his death, and his resurrection confirms that he is. 

Jesus is who he says he is. He is the light of the world. He is the one who existed before Abraham. He is the one who has gone to prepare a place for us, who has sent a helper for us. He is the one whose body was broken and blood were shed for sin. He is the one who said “it is finished.”

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