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Reaping the Harvest

Reaping the Harvest

By: Alistair Begg - December 6, 2023

The disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work … Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” – John 4:33-35

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.

About the Author(s)
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Alistair Begg

Alistair Begg has been in pastoral ministry since 1975. Following graduation from The London School of Theology, he served eight years in Scotland at both Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh and Hamilton Baptist Church. In 1983, he became the senior pastor at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio. He has written several books and is heard daily and weekly on the radio program, Truth For Life. His Daily Devotionals are presented here via a syndication agreement.
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