Reaping the Harvest
Today it is harvest time, and we are called to be at work.
In the Gospel of John, it’s not uncommon for Jesus’ teachings to sound literal but turn out to be figurative. In John 2, for example, He uses the imagery of the temple’s destruction and rebuilding to refer to His death and resurrection, but His hearers take Him literally (John 2:19-22). In John 3, He describes salvation in terms of being figuratively “born again,” but Nicodemus can think only of physical rebirth (3:3-4). With the Samaritan woman, Jesus uses a physical drink of water at the well to illustrate the eternal satisfaction found in relationship with God, but she mistakes His meaning and asks Him for a literal drink (4:7-14).
It should not surprise us, then, that in these verses Jesus again employs this method, this time with His own disciples. As they encourage Him to eat, Jesus speaks of a different and figurative food—about His mission, and about ours. Jesus’ “food,” or mission, was “to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (see also John 5:30; 6:38). On the cross, we see that work completed as He declares, “It is finished” (19:30). Christ died in the place of sinners so that He can offer grace to sinners. Anyone can be forgiven if they respond with faith to the offer of the gospel. But to respond, they must first be told.
So when the crowd from the Samaritan town approached them and the disciples became concerned about Jesus having something to eat, He called them to “look,” to see what was really going on—something much more exciting than a lunch plan! There were men and women who needed to hear the good news that He had come to offer forgiveness. There was a harvest ready to be reaped. We, too, often need such a wake-up call. We so easily miss what is in front of us, failing to notice the opportunities we have to share Christ with the people we meet who are hungry to hear of Him. We so easily make excuses, thinking no one will be interested in the gospel message, thinking we’ll take God’s mission seriously when we enter a different phase of life, when things are less busy.
Beware of persuading yourself that there is no harvest or that circumstances allow you to sidestep the call to be at work to gather it in. Christ’s work is indeed finished, but we are invited to share in His missional harvest, continuing to bring the good news of that finished salvation to lost souls. Do we see this harvest awaiting? Or are we preoccupied with shuffling soil in worldly garden patches which will never bear true spiritual fruit? Perhaps what you need is a perspective shift, an opening of your eyes. Who are the people around you? In what field have you been placed? Will you do the wonderful work of sharing Jesus with them? “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37). Today it is harvest time, and you are called to be at work.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
The Parable of the Sower
1Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
The Purpose of the Parables
10And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12so that
“they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
13And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14The sower sows the word. 15And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.1 18And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
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