Short Meditations in John 4: 36. Different Roles
Jn 4:37 Thus the saying `One sows and another reaps’ is true.
Well, we did say we would meditate on each and every individual verses as a verse and although this verse may be rather short, we will think around it.
Jesus has just finished speaking about sowers and reapers, hence the word ‘Thus’ starting this sentence. This follows on from his general comments about them. The Jews obviously had a saying that recognised that different people had different roles.
The apostle Paul taught the same thing: “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.” (! Cor 3:5-8)
We shouldn’t feel that we always have to be both sower and reaper. It is a wrong teaching of evangelicalism. May I recommend Bill Hybels’ book, ‘Just Walk Across the Room’. He is a pastor completely sold out to sharing the Gospel and encouraging his people to share the Gospel, yet he tells story after story that show that when we are led by God we may be sowers, we may be watering the seed, or we may be reapers.
You share the word with someone and they immediately turn to Christ. Realise that others have gone before you sowing the word in this person’s life. Others have also gone before you to water the seed or even sow more seed. They didn’t have the joy of reaping but they were faithful in sowing. If they hear that that person has turned to Jesus they will rejoice with you so that you may “be glad together” as Jesus said in verse 46.
Very often you will simply be the sower (but should always be alert to be the harvester if that is what is needed). We’ve said before that it is said that on average people need to hear the gospel six times before they will accept it (if they are going to – and some won’t!) When you find an opportunity to share God’s love through Jesus, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and help you be sensitive to where this person is. The apostle Peter taught, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Pet 3:15). Be prepared. Live openly as a believer and people will question you. When you answer do it gently and not brashly and respect them, don’t brow beat them. Leave the way open for another conversation. If they are wide open and ready, lead them to Jesus and bring them into the kingdom.