Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; or they are white already to harvest.
— John 4:35
Once Denise and I and our team traveled by bus to conduct massive evangelistic campaigns in eight of the largest cities in the nation of Ukraine. Because we had been on television for many years in those particular eight cities, we were anticipating that thousands of people would attend these meetings.
As we drove through the vast wheat fields in eastern Ukraine, the golden wheat waved this way and that as the gentle, late-summer winds blew across the landscape. It was so beautiful that Denise and I asked the driver to stop so we could get out of the bus and walk through the beautiful golden fields. As we stood in the midst of those gorgeous shelves of golden grain, we thought of the vast, spiritual harvest fields of the former Soviet Union where God had called our family and ministry. Of course, we were especially thinking about the harvest of souls we were praying to see in those upcoming meetings.
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
As we stood in the middle of those beautiful fields of wheat, we looked at each other and quoted Jesus’ words in John 4:35, which says, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”
When Jesus spoke these words, He was just outside the city of Sychar in Samaria. His disciples had gone to the city to find food, and Jesus had just met the woman at the well (see John 4:1-27).
Jesus’ encounter with this woman was life-transforming. He spent a significant amount of time talking to her about her personal life, answering her spiritual questions, and treating her with a level of dignity that had rarely been afforded to her. It was the first seed Jesus ever sowed into the heart of a Samaritan. The woman was so moved by His compassion that when she returned to her village, she told the people, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (John 4:29).
This woman so enthusiastically shared her testimony of Jesus that the entire village of Sychar went out of the city to find Him (John 4:30). Thus, from the moment Jesus first sowed His seed into the heart of this Samaritan woman to the time He reaped His first major harvest among the Samaritans would only be a matter of hours. This was indeed quite remarkable. Certainly it often takes quite a period of time to reap a sizable harvest of souls in any new region of the world.
As the village of Sychar went out to meet Jesus, He and His disciples were on the outskirts of the city, where He was speaking to them about doing the work of God. From Jesus’ words, it seems likely that He and His followers were standing near a wheat field at the time, similar to the one my wife and I stood in that day in the nation of Ukraine.
As Jesus was speaking to His disciples, He was apparently standing in a position that enabled Him to have a wide view of the nearby wheat fields. Meanwhile, His disciples were so focused on what He was telling them that they were unaware of the streams of people coming from the village and making their way through the fields to where they were located. It was at this moment that Jesus told the disciples, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest.…”
Naturally speaking, it should take a minimum of four months for seed to be reaped as a full-grown harvest. But that time frame didn’t apply in the case of the Samaritan woman. Seed had been sown into her heart just a short time earlier — yet it was already time to reap! That is why Jesus told his disciples, “…Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”
When the disciples turned around and looked, they could see multitudes pushing through the vast wheat field as they made their way to Jesus. It must have been an amazing sight to the disciples. After all, this Samaritan woman had gone to her town only a few hours earlier, and already there was such a large response to her testimony! Jesus had only sown seed into one Samaritan woman’s heart, but He was already reaping a massive harvest of souls.
I want you to notice that Jesus said that “…they are white already to harvest.” Jesus was not referring to the unripe wheat fields, but to the people who were coming to see Him. One scholar has noted that workers in small villages were known to wear white workers’ garments. This village of workers was so affected by the Samaritan woman’s testimony that they dropped what they were doing and immediately went to see Jesus, still dressed in their white workers’ garments. When the Lord saw a crowd of people coming toward Him dressed in white, He didn’t see white garments; He saw a harvest that was white and ready to be reaped among the Samaritans.
As the crowd approached Jesus, He told the disciples, “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth” (John 4:36,37).
Jesus was the One who sowed the first seed into the heart of the Samaritan woman, but now it was time to reap — and it requires many more hands to reap than it does to sow. Jesus was the Sower, but the harvest could not be fully reaped and retained without the help of His disciples. Jesus felt great joy as He watched this harvest of souls coming in so quickly. However, now it would also be the disciples’ great joy to help Jesus swing the sickle and bring these souls to God. Jesus sowed the seed, but it was essential for the disciples to help Him reap.
In John 4:38, Jesus said, “I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.” Jesus alone had sown the seed into the heart of the woman at the well. At the time He did this, His disciples were in the village looking for food. But now the disciples were privileged to participate in a huge reaping extravaganza for which they had done no work at all! They were literally entering into a harvest that was white and ready to be reaped because Jesus had taken the time to sow seed into a single person’s heart.
Spiritual harvest often comes more quickly than natural harvests. It may take four months for wheat to be ready to be reaped. However, don’t think that it will always take a long time before you see people respond to the Word you sow into their hearts. The souls of men are often ready to be reaped for the Kingdom of God very quickly after the initial sowing.
Also, please don’t think that your role in sowing seed is small and insignificant. Remember, Jesus sowed a single seed into the heart of one person, yet that isolated, solitary event produced a harvest so huge that an entire village came to Jesus Christ. In the same way, the seed you sow into someone’s heart today may be the very seed that produces the next massive harvest for the Kingdom of God!
So the next time you find yourself talking to someone about Jesus Christ or sharing the truths of God’s Word with a stranger, don’t allow the devil to tell you that you’re wasting your time. You may be planting the very seed that will bring salvation to an entire group of people. And when the harvest is ready to be reaped, don’t be threatened by people who join you in the reaping process of what you have sown. Harvests always require more reapers than sowers, so be thankful that one plants and others come alongside to help you reap!
As Denise and I finally stood on the stage to preach to the vast crowds that attended those meetings in Ukraine, I thanked God for giving us the awesome privilege of preaching to such huge numbers of people. But I also thanked Him for every single person who uses his or her own private life as a pulpit to share the seed of God’s Word with people on the street and at work. Regardless of how or where the seed of God’s Word is sown by believers, every seed sown is powerful and has an eternal effect. Never forget that fact as you go through your day using YOUR life as a pulpit for sowing the life-changing seed of the Gospel!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I never realized the power that one single seed could make on such a large group of people. I have mistakenly thought that witnessing to one person was not as important as preaching to multitudes. Please forgive me for overlooking the power of a single seed sown into the human heart. Holy Spirit, I want to be ready when the harvest comes in — and that includes having enough friends and coworkers on hand to pitch in and help. So I ask You to dispatch a group of ready and willing workers who can step into the harvest field and assist me in bringing in the sheaves!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that the seed I sow into people’s hearts has the power to bring great change to entire groups of people. Every time I share the Word of God with people who don’t know the Lord, a seed is planted in their hearts and minds that has the power to revolutionize their lives, their families, their friends, and even their entire cities. Every person I touch has the potential of taking the Gospel message further, thus creating a larger harvest for the Kingdom of God. Therefore, I am bold to speak to anyone whenever I see an open door of opportunity to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Can you think of a true-life story of how one person’s testimony affected a nation or an entire group of people? Who was that person?
2. Can you recall a time when the words someone spoke to you brought tremendous change into your life? Who was that person? What did he or she tell you? What changes came about in your life as a result of those words?
3. Is that person aware of how God changed your life as a result of the seed he or she sowed into your heart? If you’ve never shared the impact that person’s words had on you, don’t you think it would be appropriate for you to do so?