Sunday, August 18, 2013

[Matt's Messagse] "Harvest Lessons" John 4:27-42

“Harvest Lessons”
August 18, 2013
John 4:27-42

How many of you have gardens?

Ok.  Now, how many of you are just getting around to planting your garden this year?

How many of you are done with all of your planting this year?

I’m told (because I am no gardener) that a few of you might be planting some cucumbers or some pumpkins still for the Fall, but that most of the planting season is over.

So, if it isn’t planting season now, what season is it?

Harvest, right?

Harvesting Season.

How many have had eaten a tomato right out of your own garden this year?

Some of us didn’t get many tomatoes, I guess this year.

What has come up for you so far this year?

Harvest is a wonderful time of the year when you begin to see the fruit of your labors, quite literally, the fruit of your labors.

Today’s message is all about harvesting, as well, but not harvesting fruit...but souls, people, new believers in Jesus Christ.

I’m going to call it “Harvest Lessons.”

Now, a lot of you told me that you enjoyed the vacation pictures from last week, so I tried to pick out a few to go with the Harvest Lessons we’re going to learn today.

This is a crop that we don’t see every day. Does anyone recognize what this is?

This is a Lavender Field.

On our vacation, we visited a Lavender Farm in Sequim, Washington. Sequim is world famous for its lavender farms.

This was called, “Jardin du Soleil” which means Garden of the Sun.

And it was fields and fields of beautiful ripe lavender.

We were there just a week before the Lavender Festival where 40,000 people descend upon Sequim and visit all of the lavender farms and bring tourist business to the town.

We were glad to get there when things were in bloom but right before the crowds came.  There were rows and rows of it.  Hard to believe how much there was.

And, yes, we got to reap some lavender.

Here is a beautiful migrant farm worker reaping the harvest of lavender, and you can see someone’s else very helpful hand her creeping up and offering some more picked lavender.

And here, I think is that helper with a boxful of harvested lavender.

Now again, the harvest that our Lord Jesus is going to talk about is not the harvest of lavender or tomatoes, but the harvest of people, the harvesting of new believers.

And the reason I want to talk about that now is because of what we are heading into this week.

Saturday is the Good News Cruise.

And the point of the Good News Cruise is not Cars or Trucks or Motorcycles.

The point of the Good News Cruise is people being introduced and connected to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The point of the Good News Cruise is a harvest.

And the day after the Good News Cruise is Back to School Sunday which marks two things, the beginning of the school year and the beginning of our Fall ministries that we’ve been planning for.

And both of those things should make us think about the harvest, as well.

As we head into a school year, those of us who go to school should be looking for opportunities to sow the seed of the gospel where we can.

Students, teachers, helpers, aids, leader, volunteers.

And here at Lanse Free Church, we’ve been getting ready for a Fall full of programs like ABCKids, Kids for Christ, Youth Group, Link Groups, Sunday School Classes (the adult class is going to study the Gospel of John!), a new sermon series on 1 Samuel–all kinds of things.

And the point of those programs is not the programs but the people being introduced to and connected to and growing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

They are about the harvest, as well.

So, it’s harvest time, and I think we need to be thinking about this all important harvest that God has us involved in.

And that’s why our Bibles are open to the gospel of John, chapter 4.

Now this is a very familiar passage. It’s the Woman at the Well, but I’m not going to read or preach today the most familiar part of it, verses 1-26.

Hopefully, you know that part of the story.  It’s a great story about our Lord Jesus Christ introducing himself to a despised Samaritan woman with a shady past who tried to dodge the Lord and change the subject on Him.  But our Lord went, undaunted, untricked, right after her heart and clearly and lovingly revealed His messiahship to her and His claim on her life.

He used the metaphor of thirst-quenching water to grab her attention and build a bridge from what she knew to what she needed.

And that, by the way, is a model for us, as well. To use something like a car cruise to build a bridge to people from what they know and love to what they need.

But I’m not telling that part of the story today. Today, I want to tell what Paul Harvey would call the rest of the story. What happened after Jesus said, “I who speak to you am he [the Messiah].”

Were going to pick up the story in verse 27.

Our Lord Jesus has crossed thick social boundaries to introduce Himself to this woman.

He crossed:

The barbed wire of ethnicity. She was a hated Samaritan. He was a Jew.
The barbed wire of sexism. She was a woman. He was a man and a teacher and a Rabbi.
The barbed wire of legalism. She was a promiscuous woman.
The barbed wire of shame. She had been used and abused by men, and Jesus still sought her out.

He showed her that what she had always truly thirsted for was Himself.

Now, what happened next? V.27

‘Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?’ Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’  They came out of the town and made their way toward him.’

Verse 27 says that the disciples arrived on the scene just as Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah. V.8 says that they had gone into town to buy some food.

When they came back they were surprised.  Here was their Leader, Jesus, a Jewish man talking with a Samaritan woman!

Shocking!  That doesn't happen!  Look at what was going through their minds, v.27.  "What do you want?'  "Why are you talking with her?"

Now John tells us that they didn't verbalize this astonishment, but they were thinking it.  The  deeply entrenched sexism of their culture extended to the disciples if not to their master.

Their arrival ends the discussion between Jesus and the woman.  But she's heard enough. She drops her bucket and heads back into town. V.28

“Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’”

This precious woman, seconds after hearing the good news, was sharing it herself.  She is a wonderful model of evangelism for us.  She's a great example of sharing the good news of Jesus.

See her haste.  She drops her jar.  That kind of thirst isn't as important now (or maybe she was leaving it so that Jesus could actually get a drink).  She heads back to town.
Previously, she was probably afraid to be seen in town!  She had been drawing water
at an unusual time of day probably to avoid the women of the town because of her
sinful lifestyle and the gossip about her. But now, she's heading right into town to talk with people.  She's being bold.  But the greatest lesson to draw from her example is that she told them what she had experienced.

Tell them what you know. That's the harvest lesson #1.


This woman didn't have a lot of fancy answers to theological questions.  She didn't
carry to the people a certain denominational doctrine or pretend that she had all the
answers.  She just said what she had experienced.  Look again at v.29

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”

Come and see!  Come, check Jesus out.  Her message was simple.  Come and see Jesus.  See if He is who He claims and believe.

She was particularly impressed by his knowledge of her.  "See a man who told me everything I ever did."  Now, Jesus hadn't given her her whole life-history, but he knew about what characterized her life.  What she had used to try to quench her thirst for true-satisfaction–men.  He knew her.  And that's what she told the people.  He knows me!

What a great example for us as we head into the Good News Cruise.

This is what we can share. We can share what the Lord has done for us.

Tell them what you know.  Stick to Jesus.  Don't worry when doing evangelism about having all the answers.  Don't worry about pretending that you have everything all figured out.  No.  Just tell them about Jesus and what he's done for you.  That's the woman at the well's example for us in evangelism.

Tell them what you know.

That was enough for these people to see Jesus for themselves.  Look at verse 30.

“They came out of the town and made their way toward him.”

Now, remember that as we go on.

All the time Jesus is talking to His disciples, the people are approaching from the town.  They're interested in finding out more about this possible Messiah.  He sure had made an impression on that loose woman of our town!

They start out small on the horizon and then they get bigger, and approach, and they finally arrive as Jesus finishes talking.

Remember that He and the disciples can see them approach as they talk.

Now, the next section of Scripture tells us that the disciples are concerned for their master.  When they left him according to v.8 to go get food, he was very tired and very thirsty.

It was the middle of a hot day, with the sun staring down on them.  And Jesus hadn't used the time of their absence to rest in the shade.  He'd been talking the whole time to this woman.  And he still hadn't gotten anything to drink.  He's just standing there, weak and thirsty with a smile on his face.  What is he thinking?  Verse 31.

“Meanwhile his disciples urged him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’”

C'mon, eat something.  You're going to fall over from starvation if you don't do something about your physical needs, Jesus.  Eat something.

And Jesus, though he was probably very hungry and very tired and very thirsty physically, uses this moment to teach them an important spiritual lesson.  v.32

“But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’”

I'm not hungry.  I have food.  I'm satisfied from another source.  You don't understand
that yet, do you?

The disciples did not understand.  Just like the woman had thought he was talking about spring water when he said living water, they thought he was talking only about
physical food.  Meat to eat.  v.33

“Then his disciples said to each other, ‘Could someone have brought him food?’”
The disciples didn't get it.  V.34

“‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

Harvest lesson #2.


Obedience to the call to the harvest is satisfying.

"My food" Jesus said.  My food. You use food to satisfy yourself.  You need food to get by in life.  But man does not live by BREAD ALONE but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

"My food is to do the will of him who sent me."

What is God's will?  To finish his work.
What work?  Harvesting.
Sharing the good news of Jesus with others.

That's what Jesus was doing.  He was leading the woman at the well into an understanding of who He is and what He could mean to her.

And for Jesus, obedience to God's call to harvest (evangelism) was more satisfying
than food.

“You guys go ahead and eat and drink if you want to.  I'm going to do the things that are really satisfying.  Obeying my Father's mission to reach humanity is more important than dinner.  And more satisfying.”

I don’t know about you, but I need a perspective shift on that.

Sure, as I look at it--obedience is necessary.  When God says jump, we should jump.  If my mom and dad ask me to do something, I better do it or get disciplined.

Obedience is necessary and hard and against what is fun and against what I would do if I really had a choice.  We tend think of obedience as the harsh, painful side of faith in Christ.  But here it isn't.

Here obedience isn't seen as merely a necessary thing.  It's more.  Oh sure, it was hard
in the sense that Jesus still hadn't had anything to eat or drink, but Hhe could see beyond that.

He could see and say that obedience was satisfying.

Obedience “tastes good” when done right.  It's good for you.  It's sustaining.  Doing God's thing even when it's the hard thing is food for the soul.  Jesus (our perfect example) looked forward to eating obedience to God's commands like you forward to eating Sunday dinners.

And specifically here–that obedience is to God's call to evangelize.

Harvesting is more satisfying than food.

What does this mean to you and I?  It means that even though sharing our faith looks
like a menacing task and though you know it's God's will for you--& you think that
he's being mean to ask you–that's not true.  Though hard, evangelism is more satisfying than food.  It was true for Jesus.  It will be true for you and me.

Let’s suppose you have  a family member.  Let's say a cousin. Who you don't think knows the Lord as Savior.  Let's call him cousin Larry.  In your mind, Larry is a hard case.  He drinks, he smokes, he chews, he lies and steals, he's divorced, he went to church when he was a boy but fell away with no explanation when he was a teenager.

Cousin Larry never says a good word at family get-togethers.  He cusses up a storm and complains about his job.  It's not always fun to be around him.  You see him every 3 months at your Grandma's family dinners.

You think that he might come if you invite him to the Good News Cruise.

You know that Jesus died for Cousin Larry's sin just like he died for your sin.  You know that God wants you to find opportunities to tell cousin Larry about Jesus and what he's done for you.
But you're scared.  You don't know how you are going to be received.  You think that he'd rather talk about his favorite sport than about Jesus.So you'd rather the discussion never moved to spiritual things.

What do you do?

Obey! Obey God's call to share Jesus with your Cousin Larry.

Invite Him to the Good News Cruise.

And tell Him why we are doing it.

Sow that seed.

There will be no harvest if we aren’t obedient to sow the seed.

And catch this. It will be intensely satisfying to obey Him.

Obedience is more satisfying than food.

You don't know what will happen.  Maybe Larry will laugh at you and ridicule you for the rest of your life.  Maybe, he'll trust the Lord for salvation and begin living for  Him.  You don't know.  You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you did God's thing.  Have you felt that satisfaction?  God smiling at your obedience?  A gut feeling that what you are doing, though hard, is JUST WHAT YOU NEED?  Obey.  Do God's work.  It's like food.

Jesus magnifies this lesson with the next.  Not only is harvesting satisfying, but there's plenty of harvesting to do.  Look at verse 35.

“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.”

To get to the heart of this harvest lesson you need to understand the “farmer's proverb” that Jesus is using.

Jesus says, "Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest'?’” The Farmers Proverb is: Four months more and then the harvest.

Farmers probably would say this phrase when they were done planting the seed in the spring for the Fall crop. :O.K.  Four months and then the harvest.”

In other words, “It's time to wait. I've done my part.  Four months until any more work will be ready for us.”

But the spiritual harvest that Jesus is announcing does not require waiting here.  Look
again at v.35.

“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.”

Look up, guys.  Don't think just about food.  Think like a farmer.  Look at the fields before you. ...

Now, remember, the townspeople were walking toward them because of the witness of the woman Jesus met at the well.  They were approaching from the nearby town.  Jesus was saying, "Look at those people, guys.  No waiting here.  I just now planted, and we can jump right into harvesting these people right now.  They're ready.  They're ripe."

If you have the KJV open before you, you a have a more colorful picture.  It says, the
fields are WHITE unto harvest.  If it was lavender, it would say PURPLE unto harvest. The blossoms of the crop have opened.  If they are not harvested now they will fall to the ground and rot uselessly.  They are white and ready and ripe for the picking.

What's the harvest lesson?


Many people are just waiting to be harvested.  The fields are ripe for harvest.

No four months.  They're ready now.  They are going to Hell and they're just waiting for someone to tell them how to get out of it.

They may not look white for the harvest.  You can't always tell by looking at the outside.  Your Cousin Larry may not look ripe.  But he might be.  Seeds might have been sown that you know NOTHING about. The germination period may have been going on for some time.  Look with spiritual eyes.  God has prepared many people to hear and to respond to the good news of Jesus.

People around us are dying without Christ.  Look.  Look into the faces of those who need the Savior.  Many people are just waiting to be told about Jesus.  We need to get
out into the harvest field again begin reaping.

I showed you a picture of Heathers’ 90something year old grandfather last week.

He is faithful to head into the harvest field.

He carries a pocketful of tracts with him at all times. And he is constantly giving them to people he meets.

When he looks out at a crowd of people, He is like our Lord Jesus who looked at the crowds and had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Do we see the potential harvest?  Many people are just waiting to be told.

I know it doesn’t always seem like it, but that’s how Satan wants us to think.

The fourth and last harvest lesson builds from on the last two.  At first you think v.36 is just going to repeat the idea of verse 35.  No waiting.  Look at the first part of v.36. “Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life...”

Even now.  No waiting.  The reaper draws his wages.  He's employed.  It's harvest-time.  Even now it's time for eternal life to spiritually breathed into people.  Even now.

The fields are ripe.  Dying people are waiting.  It's harvest-time.

But then, Jesus transitions into another lesson drawn from harvesting, in fact, from
another Farmer's Proverb.  Look again at v.36.

“Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.’”

Jesus is saying that we should get to work in the harvest-field so that those who sow
(planting the words of eternal life) will rejoice with those who reap.

"even now the reaper harvests the crop for eternal life so that the sower and the reaper
may be glad together."

Hmm.  Evangelism is seen as a team activity here.  Sowers and reapers working in tandem.  Sometimes, you talk and talk and talk to Cousin Larry about Christ.

And then out of the blue, one week he tells you that he's gotten saved.  All because a friend at work showed an interest in him and shared the gospel over their lunch break together.

You did all that sowing and someone else reaps him.

But you are a team.  You don't begrudge Cousin Larry's friend the reaping.  What's important is that Cousin Larry is harvested ... "so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together."

This makes the next farmer's proverb true.  v.37

“Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true.”

The farmers noted that often someone else came along and reaped the benefits of the sower's hard work.  Evangelism is often a team activity.  Often, we don't see the results of our efforts in sharing Jesus with our friends--someone else does.

That’s important for the Good New Cruise. We may not see a harvest on Saturday.

We might only do some planting of some seeds.
And the harvest will come later.

In fact, we might only cultivate the ground and not even get a seed planted with many people.

Keith says that the most important thing we can do on Saturday is to be friendly and talk to and build relationships with people.

Talk to people. Welcome them. Ask them about their vehicle. Show an interest in them. Show that Christians are not wild, bug eyed weirdos. At least, not all of us are.

And cultivate the ground for planting the seed.

But do something. Don’t let the team down.  We all need to do our part. V.38

“I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

Jesus has given each of his disciples, as he does us, a commission to minister in His name.  He would probably soon turn his disciples on the approaching townspeople and have his disciples talk about Jesus and His ministry to them.  But the disciples had not done any hard work to get these results.

“I sent you to reap what you have not worked for.  Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

Others had done the hard work.  Most notably, Jesus had prepared the Samaritan
woman to reach out to her neighbors.  And the hardest work of all would be dying on the Cross, not simply talking to people.

But also, hundreds of OT prophets had done hard work preparing the people for the Messiah.  The harvest standing before the disciples was just the tip of the effort ice-berg.  They hadn't done hardly anything, and now would be given the great privilege of reaping a harvest with these people.

Jesus was reminding them of a great motivation to do evangelism and that’s teamwork.

Don't let the team down.

This last week was Meet the Warriors night, right?

Don’t let the team down.

You are bringing to completion what others have set in motion.


Have you ever run in a relay race?  In 6th grade I ran the anchor position in a track-and-field day.  Three runners raced before me with a worn, red baton.  They all stayed in their track.  They all ran their hearts out.  The third rounded the corner and, in sync, I began to run with him with my hand held out behind me.  He slapped the baton in my hand and slowed down to a walk.  Their job was done.  Mine had begun.  I pumped my arms and broke out into my fastest gait.  I blinked sweat out of my eyes.
I raced and I raced until I crossed the finish-line and handed my baton into the waiting hand of the principal of the school.  We had won.

Imagine if when he handed me the baton, I just stood there.  "Uh. Thanks.  But I just
don't feel like running now.  What if we lose?  What if someone laughs at how I run?
I'll just hang onto this baton.  Thanks anyways."

Don't let your team down.  Others have worked so hard to prepare the harvest, sowing
the seeds of God's love in people's hearts.  Don't stop before reaping the benefits of
their labors.  Don't stop and hold the baton, making all their work useless.

You don't know what seeds have been sown for your Cousin Larry.  You don't know
what work God has done in his heart to bring him to readiness for the gospel.  You do know what hard work Jesus did on the cross for your Cousin Larry.  He did the real work.  You just need to love Cousin Larry enough to talk to him about Jesus.  Don't let your team down.

Complete what others have begun.

The results of all this harvesting were phenomenal.  Look at v.39.

“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’  So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.”

The woman at the well just told them what she knew.  And that was enough for some
of them to believe.  This group of Samaritans actually asked Jesus to stay for two

That's unheard of!  A bunch of Samaritans asking a Jewish rabbi to stay the night?
You know supernatural things are going on here.

You know, Jesus probably finally ate that food that the disciples wanted him to, and probably finally got that drink He asked for but only after the important stuff was done.  Doing the harvesting.

The Samaritan villagers were grateful to the woman for sharing Jesus with them.
Look at v.42.

“They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’”

Now there's a powerful reason to share Jesus with others!

Seeing others experience Jesus for themselves is reason enough.

"Now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior"

Thank you for sharing Jesus.
Thank you for obeying.
Thank you for seeing me as waiting to be told.
Thank you for not stopping early and turning everyone's hard work to nothing.
Thank you for sharing Jesus.

Thank you for planting or reaping.

Thank you for going into the harvest field!