John 4:35-42 SOWING THE SEED & REAPING THE HARVEST
In our previous texts a Samaritan woman came to Jesus as
He was resting on the curbing of a well near the Samaritan
opened up a conversation which led to the woman being saved.
She went back into Sychar and told the people that she had
found the Christ and that they should go out to see Him. As
a result, many of the men of the city immediately started
out to the well to see Jesus.
However, before they arrived at the well, our Lord's
disciples tried to get Jesus to eat and He refused to eat.
He said that He had meat to eat that they knew nothing
about. He was talking about the joy He has experienced in
winning this woman to salvation, thus, carrying on the work
that God the Father had sent Him to do.
In our text today before the men of the city arrive,
Jesus speaks about the great need of winning souls to
I. The fields white already unto harvest
V. 35, "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." Judging from this statement the grain harvest in
planting season was probably over and the new plants had
already sprung up out of the ground. No doubt, Jesus and
His disciples had seen many of the fields along beside the
roadway as they made their journey
them right there at Jacob's well. If so, the fields would
appear green to them from the new plants sticking up out of
Jesus was using those fields to teach His disciples a
lesson concerning soul-winning. The disciples had very
likely taken notice of how pretty the green fields were and,
perhaps, had remarked that in about four months there would
likely be a great harvest from those fields. It was very
common for the people to make such a remark at this time of
the year. In another four months and harvest time would
Jesus told His disciples, "Do not say that in four
months harvest time will be here." Jesus said, "Harvest
time is here already." However, Jesus was not talking about
a harvest of grain. He was talking about a harvest of
souls. He said, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields;
for they are white already to harvest." If they lifted up
their eyes and looked out on the literal fields, they would
see no fields white unto harvest. Rather they would see
green fields which were filled with young tender green
plants. It would be another four months until harvest.
But if they would lift up their eyes from the spiritual
point of view, they would see many lost souls who were
greatly in need of the gospel message. They would see
fields which were already filled with ripe grain and ready
for the harvest. The light yellow colored heads of mature
grain would take on a white appearance in bright sunlight
and would cause all the field to look white.
What Jesus was talking about was that right there in the
nearby city of
the gospel message and who were ready to believe it with
their hearts. This would soon become evident when the men
of the city would come rushing out to the well to see and
hear Jesus. There were also other like cities and villages
eagerly received. Within those few short years the
disciples would be told to go out to all the world, because
the fields of all the world were white unto harvest.
The message that Jesus was trying to get through to His
disciples was that time is of great importance. When the
grain in a field is ripe and ready to harvest, you cannot
afford to wait four months and then start trying to harvest
it. It will all be ruined by that time. Most of the grain
would be beaten to the ground by the wind and the rain.
What is left on the stalks would be moulded and ruined. One
simply cannot effort to wait four months to start the
harvest. The grain harvest truly was four months away, but
the spiritual harvest of souls was ready to be reaped.
II. A motivating factor: Payday and rejoicing
V. 36, "And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and
gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth
and he that reapeth may rejoice together." In the work
forces of the land, those who labored in the fields received
wages. Those who plowed the fields and got them ready for
planting received wages for their labor. Those who sowed
the seed in the plowed ground received wages for their
labor. Those who harvested the crop and put it in the barns
would also receive wages for their labor. The Greek word
here that is translated "wages" means "pay, wages, or
What Jesus was talking about was that the laborers in
God's work force would, likewise, receive pay, wages or
reward. Now Jesus was not talking about the wages that
churches would pay their pastors. Jesus was talking about
the wages that God Himself pays to all the workers in His
cause. He is talking about the pay, wages or reward that
each and every Christian will receive for service rendered
to the Lord. He is not talking about earthy salaries. He
was talking about heavenly rewards.
Jesus said that the one who sows the seed and the one
who reaps the harvest will rejoice together. They will both
receive wages from the Lord and they will both receive
rejoicing from the Lord. One man may sow the gospel seed
and never be able to lead the prospect to salvation. But he
receives wages for his labor never-the-less. Another may be
able to lead that same individual to the Lord for salvation
even though somebody else sowed the seed. He will receive
his reward for reaping the harvest even though he did not
sow the seed. Both he that soweth and he that reapeth will
rejoice together because they both will receive their
III. One sowing and another reaping
V. 37-38, "And herein is that saying true, One soweth,
and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye
bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered
into their labours." Jesus now gets right down to the work
of those disciples. He said that here is a good example of
the truthfulness of an old saying. The old saying was, "One
soweth and another reapeth." This was often true because
workers were sometimes migrant workers and after sowing the
fields they would not wait around the four months until the
harvest. They would move on and another crew would harvest
the crop. Another thing that accounted for the truthfulness
of this saying was that sometimes one planted the fields and
then died before the crop was harvested.
Never-the-less the work of these disciples who now
labored with Jesus was a good example of the truthfulness of
that saying. The prophets of old had sown the seed. They
had declared the word of the Lord. The disciples would reap
a harvest from the seed that the prophets had sown. John
the Baptist had also sown the gospel seed. He had begun his
ministry sometime earlier and had sown the gospel seed from
which the disciples would reap a harvest. Even the
Samaritan woman who had gotten saved this very day had gone
into the city of Sychar and sown the gospel seed. Now the
men of the city would soon arrive and Jesus and His
disciples would reap a harvest from the seed that she had
But listen, before any harvest can be reaped the gospel
seem must be seed sown. This principle is true in the
natural harvest of grain and it is true in the spiritual
harvest. The gospel message must be presented to the
unsaved if anybody is going to get saved. I will want to
come back to that thought later.
Verse 39 informs us that many of the Samaritan people
believed the testimony of the woman even before they arrived
and talked with Jesus. V. 39, "And many of the Samaritans
of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman,
which testified, He told me all that ever I did."
Evidently they were expecting the Christ to come on the
scene very soon. They had evidently heard John the Baptist
say that he was sent to prepare the way for the coming of
the Christ and that the Christ would soon come on the scene.
They were ready to be harvested and when the woman told them
about Jesus they believed what she said and accepted Jesus
as the Christ even before they laid eyes on Him.
IV. A great harvest at Sychar
V. 40-42, "So when the Samaritans were come unto him,
they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he
abode there two days. And many more believed because of his
own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not
because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and
know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the
world." After coming out to see and hear Jesus the people
of Sychar pled with Jesus to stay with them and preach to
Jesus agreed to do so and stayed in their city for two
days. John does not describe the events of those two days,
but I can imagine that almost all of the regular activities
were shut down and the people gathered to hear Jesus preach.
During that time there was a great harvest. Many more
John says nothing about Jesus working any miracles
there. But a lot of people were saved. The seed had
already been sown and they were ripe unto harvest. When
they had the opportunity to see and hear Jesus in person
they recognized that He is indeed the Christ. They said,
"...for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is
indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world." That goes even
beyond what even the believing Jews of Judea and Galilee
would have said about Him. The believing Jews would
acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ and that He is the
Savior, but they would have most likely acknowledged Him
only as the Savior of Israel. The Samaritans recognized
Jesus as the Savior of the world.
V. Some points for emphasis
But now I want to come back to some of the things that
have already been said and place emphasis upon them. First,
I want to emphasize that the seed must be sown if souls are
going to be saved. I am glad that in every generation God
reaches down and calls men to preach the gospel. As a
church we have been honored that God would reach down to our
own church congregation and call men to preach. Some whom
God has called from Pleasant Hill are Luther Crawford, W. S.
Taylor, Keenan Witcher, Ronald Witcher and Paul Clark.
But I also want to stress that the preachers are not the
only ones who are to sow the gospel seed. In fact some of
the most effective sowers of the gospel seed are not
preachers at all. The woman who witnessed for Jesus in the
city of Sychar was mot a preacher. Yet virtually a whole
city heard the gospel message as a result of that one woman.
She was far more effective in Sychar than any of the
disciples could have been.
Let me say that every Christian father and mother should
sow the gospel seed. The father and mother who live in that
home can often be more effective than a preacher from the
outside of the home could be. Furthermore, they can not
only sow the gospel seed to their own children, but to all
the neighborhood children as they come into the home.
Every Christian grandparent should be a witness for the
Lord to the grand children. Grand children usually have a
great deal of love and respect for their grandparents. The
witness of a grandparent can often do more to win the grand
children to Christ than anyone else.
Every Christian aunt and uncle should also be a witness
for the Lord to the nieces and nephews. Young people are
usually influenced a great deal by favorite aunts and
uncles. Sometimes the Christian aunts and uncles are the
only real Christian influence which the nieces and nephews
Every Christian family should be a witness for Christ to
the neighbors around them. Do not take for granted that
just because these people do not go to church that they will
not be receptive to your witness. The Christian family
should look upon its neighborhood as a mission field and
themselves as missionaries.
Every Christian who works at a plant or place of
business with unsaved people should be a witness for the
Lord to those unsaved friends. Those people desperately
need somebody who can get through to them with the gospel.
Otherwise they will spend eternity in hell.
Every Christian who goes to school with unsaved friends
should be a witness for Jesus to your schoolmates. They are
at school to learn, and the most important thing for any boy
or girl to learn is that Jesus saves. Tell them about Jesus
and that Jesus saves.
Let me remind you also that the Lord's workers will get
paid for their labor for Him. The Lord is not going to
reward on the basis of how many people you lead to profess
Jesus Christ as Savior. He will not reward you on the basis
of how much harvest you reap. Rather, He will reward you on
how faithful you have been to sow the gospel seed.
I want to ask you some rather soul searching questions
right at this point. I am not going to embarrass you by
asking you to raise your hands or answer these questions out
loud. But I do want to ask you these questions.
First of all, do you know that you are saved? Are you
sure that you have called on the Lord and committed your
destiny into the hands of Jesus for Him to save and keep?
If you have, I want to say, "Thank God. I'm glad you've got
that settled with God."
If you cannot say that you are saved, I am going to ask
you to call on Jesus before this service is over and ask Him
to be your Savior. You do not have to say anything out
loud. You just talk to Him silently and He will hear you.
Secondly, I want to ask those of you who are saved if
you can remember ever having witnessed to some unsaved
person about their need of trusting Jesus and being saved.
Have you ever personally talked to some family member or
some fellow worker or some neighbor and pointed out that
what they need to do is to trust Jesus and be saved?
If not, I am going to ask you to talk to Jesus right now
and ask Him to forgive you for never having witnessed for
Him to the lost. I am going to also ask that you call on
Jesus and tell Him that you want Him to help you to talk to
someone about his soul.
Also, if you are saved and you are in need of a church
home, I am going to ask you to talk to Jesus and ask Him
whether or not it would be His will for you to place your
membership here at Pleasant Hill? Then all I will ask you
to do is to let the Lord have His way.
There is one more thing. God may be dealing with
someone here about the call to the ministry. If you think
that God might be calling you to preach and you would like
to talk to me about it privately you just let me know and I
will talk to you. If you already know that God has called
you then come now and surrender to the call.
Let me say to you, whatever it is that you need to do
about spiritual matters, do not put it off too long. The
harvest is just about over.