CHAPTER 4: Part 4: The Samaritan Harvest
Short Meditations in John 4: 34. Watch the Seasons
Jn 4:35 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.
Without doubt there are seasons in the natural world (although they are less pronounced when you get closer to the Equator) and there appear to be seasons in the spiritual world. Probably the best proof of this is to observe what happened in the book of judges. Israel drifted away from the Lord, the Lord gave them over to their enemies and then eventually, when the penny eventually dropped, they cried out to the Lord and He sent a saviour who delivered them, and this process happened probably over ten times in the period of that book. I used the expression, ‘when the penny eventually dropped’ which simply means when they came to their senses and faced the truth that they needed the Lord.
Now one thing the book of Judges shows us is that these periods were not uniform. Sometimes it took only a short period, and at other times many years, but the point is that if you were spiritually discerning you would have been able to discern the hearts of the people turning to face the truth in their awful circumstances. God’s disciplinary activity ploughed up their hard hearts until eventually they turned and cried out. Spiritual hunger in the face of a moral low period is a good time for evangelism and may even be a good time for revival.
In Jesus’ day over four hundred years had passed since the Lord had had any obvious dealings with Israel and prophets had spoken. When John the Baptist came the crowds flocked to him. When Jesus came great crowds followed him. It is clear from the amount of sickness and demon possession that the nation was at a spiritual low but such times also bring spiritual hunger to the surface.
There will always be some people who are hungry for the Lord which is why we should always be on the lookout to share the Gospel when the opportunity arises, but it seems there are seasons when large numbers of people express spiritual hunger and are ready of harvesting. Look, says Jesus, you are good at discerning the seasons; will you also not see the harvest that is just waiting to be reaped?
We’ll see more of the picture of harvesting in the coming meditations but Jesus’ first call is to be a people who are on the lookout, a people who recognise the spiritual seasons and see when the spiritual harvest is ready. On a one to one basis the same is true. Individuals will show what ‘season’ they are in if we get to know them and talk with them. Some will appear miles off coming to Jesus while others show signs of hunger and other are right on the doorstep. Be alert.