As we celebrate Thanksgiving and thank God for His abundant provision, let’s reflect on God’s great “spiritual harvest” that He invites us to join. Jesus speaks of this harvest in John chapter 4. (Mike has taught from this passage from time-to-time, so we thought you might enjoy some of these spiritual lessons today as well.)
Please grab your Bible, read John 4: 1 – 42, and join Mike for a short Bible study.
In verse 4, the Scriptures indicate that Christ chose to go through Samaria. In those days Jews avoided Samaria because of a long-standing dislike between the two nations.
Spiritual lesson 1: The Lord of the harvest directs the workers to where the harvest will take place. That place may be dangerous or be uncomfortable for us.
You’ll also notice in verse 7 that Jesus was alone at the well when he initiated a conversation with the Samaritan woman. This surprised her because it violated “cultural norms”.
Spiritual lesson 2: In the harvest, the Lord often brings us together with individuals by design. We might view these as chance encounters, but they are “divine appointments”. Also, it’s often necessary to initiate a discussion beginning with an area of common interest (even when we are culturally different).
In verses 13-18, Jesus uses the physical nature of water to illustrate a spiritual truth. He guides the woman to see her need for a Savior (Messiah).
Spiritual lesson 3: In the work of the harvest our role is to help people understand their need for the Savior.
Jesus reveals in verses 16-24 that He knows intimate details about the woman’s past. She recognizes that Jesus must be a prophet and deflects the discussion from herself to a “religious debate” between the Jews and the Samaritans. Jesus gives her new insight to correct her misunderstanding of how God wants us to worship Him.
Spiritual lesson 4: As people begin to see their need for the Savior, they will frequently draw attention away from their condition. They may raise religious objections or questions. We must ask the Lord of the harvest for discernment on how to best answer their questions and objections, trusting the Holy Spirit to shed light into their hearts.
In verses 25-26, Jesus clearly reveals that He is the Messiah, the Savior. This is an amazing revelation since He wasn’t able to disclose this in His hometown (due to their unbelief) and in much of Israel.
Spiritual lesson 5: In the harvest, the lost need to see the reality of who Christ truly is before they will trust Him as Savior. We cannot see the hearts of people and cannot predict which ones will respond.
We see in verses 28-30 that this truth changed the woman for all eternity. Leaving her pots, she went into the town and proclaimed the coming of the Messiah to everyone.
Spiritual lesson 6: As people come into the Kingdom of God, they, too, can become enthusiastic workers in the harvest. In Campus Crusade for Christ we refer to this as a ministry of multiplication.
In verses 27 and 31-38, Christ re-directs his disciples’ thinking from physical food to doing God’s will. As the crowds from the town approach in their white robes, Jesus tells the disciples that the “spiritual harvest” is upon them. The disciples have the thrilling privilege of “reaping” where others (the Old Testament prophets) have sown.
Spiritual lesson 7: The workers in the harvest must not be so caught up in earthly endeavors that they miss out in either the sowing or the reaping of the harvest. They must always be ready! Only the Lord of the harvest knows when the time is right.
According to verses 39-42, many of the Samaritans came to hear Christ and believed in Him. Jesus, the God of the entire universe, changed His course and stayed two additional days because of their belief.
Spiritual lesson 8: Through the testimony of one changed person, many others may also be brought into the harvest. When a harvest such as this happens, the Lord of the harvest may redirect the course of His workers so that the full harvest may be gathered.
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5 thoughts on “The Spiritual Harvest”
Thanks for highlighting this Biblical passage..and for bringing back some memories!
Studying and focusing on John 4 for a communications class assignment during my junior year at Penn State changed my life! And my continuous study of this passage continues to change my life as well as other students who now have to write about this passage in my philosophy classes that I teach at the local community college here in CO Springs.
For additional insights into this passage, consider Jesus’ clueless disciples in this passage as likened to the institutional Chr. church of today. And consider the woman at the well as a typical person that said institution (traditional, conservative evangelical) would more than likely have a hard time ‘accepting’ into their midst even if this marginalized person was on a journey toward God (i.e. loose immoral woman, a lesbian, a Democrat, a New Ager, a pagan Wiccan, a cult member, a non-white person, etc.). Now, play out their interactions in the John 4 story and imagine these same interactions at play today in our culture/churches/communities.
NOTE: the woman at the well and the Samaritans have GREATER insights into who Jesus is MORE than the disciples themselves. Anyone care to make some applications to THIS BIBLICAL FACT for today?? Another note: where did I first gain the deep insights into this passage? from a ‘Bible Study’, a sermon, a Christian book, a church retreat, a revival service, a prominent Chr. leader/evangleist? Nope. None of these. It was from a secular class taught at a secular university by a secular teacher. Go figure.
Hi, Bruce! Good to see you here. Thanks for your thoughts and insights. John 4 is a rich chapter!
Awesome mini-study, Mr. Schmitt! Thank you.
Thanks, Dani! We’re glad this blessed you. I’ll let Mike know you appreciated his Bible study.