A new friend spoke yesterday about the significance of understanding what Jesus said in John 4:35-38:
Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.
Jesus points to the harvest, and then reminds them that they are the beneficiaries of those who have gone before them, such as John the Baptist. Some sow; some reap. Both are essential. D.A. Carson comments, “The sower labors in anticipation of what is to come; the reaper must never forget that the harvest he enjoys is the fruit of another’s toil.” Jesus wants the disciples to understand that “their fruitfulness is possible because of the work of others before them.”
The good news is that there will come a day when things will be so fertile that the sowing and the reaping take place together.
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when the plowman shall overtake the reaper
and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed…
I’ve spent most of my life doing reaping work. I’ve benefited from the labor of others who have gone before me. That’s okay: we need people to reap. Just never forget that you’re reaping what others have sowed.
I’m doing a lot more sowing now. My friend reminded me yesterday that sowing work looks very different. It’s hard work, and you don’t always see the results. Where he served, it took years to see the results of that work. Be patient, he said, and don’t expect sowing to look like reaping.
It reminds me of what I wrote last year:
I spent a lot of time watering mud last week. Nothing seemed to be happening. I felt a little foolish, actually.
That all changed on Saturday when I went outside and saw this.
Reaping? Keep it up, and be grateful for the sowers. Sowing? Be patient. The harvest is coming, and you’ll be part of the party.