Summary: Jesus said, "You have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest!" We are in a race against time to gather the harvest before it spoils or is destroyed. 3 Aspects of it.
RIPE FOR HARVEST
A. HUMOR: LONE COWBOY AT CHURCH
1. One Sunday a cowboy went to church. When he entered, he saw that he and the preacher were the only ones present. The preacher asked the cowboy if he wanted him to go ahead and preach.
2. The cowboy said, "I’m not too smart, but if I went to feed my cattle and only one showed up, I’d feed him." So the minister began his sermon.
3. One hour passed, then two hours, then two-and-a-half hours. The preacher finally finished and came down to ask the cowboy how he liked the sermon.
4. The cowboy answered slowly, "Well, I’m not very smart, but if I went to feed my cattle and only one showed up, I sure wouldn’t feed him all the hay!"
30 They [a large group of Samaritans] came out of the town and made their way toward him. 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” Jn. 4:30-38.
1. We’re going to look at the Timing of the Harvest, the Nature off the Harvest, and the Reward of the Harvest.
2. The title of this message is “Ripe for Harvest.”
I. TIMING OF THE HARVEST
A. THE WORK: PREACH & DISCIPLE
The work they had to do was to preach the Gospel and to set up the Kingdom of the Messiah. The Lord Jesus compares this work to “harvest work,” the gathering in of the fruits of the Earth.
B. HARVEST PLANTED BY OTHERS
1. In Christ’s day, the period of harvest commenced with the work of John the Baptist, who planted seeds of repentance throughout Judah.
2. This was the reason there was such an opportunity for the disciples. Jesus’ statement, “Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” (4:37-38)
3. We are currently in the “dispensation of grace” when the door of salvation has been opened to the Gentiles, since the Jews rejected Christ.
4. Paul said, “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all [true] Israel will be saved.” Romans 11:25-26, NIV1983.
5. So we are in “harvest time” as far as the Gentiles are concerned. At the end of this period, God will turn back to Israel and gather His final harvest of them.
6. Many have gone before us in America planting the seeds of the Gospel. That’s why we have such a golden opportunity to harvest lost souls!
C. TIME OF THE HARVEST? NOW!
1. “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” John 4:35.
2. We have the tendency to think of witnessing as being something for another day, but Jesus told the disciples to look around them TODAY.
3. While it’s true that some people are closed to the Gospel, it’s also true that there’s always someone around us who is receptive to the Gospel.
4. It is those people we must ‘home in’ on. There’s always some opportunity around us that should be undertaken immediately.
II. THE NATURE OF HARVEST TIME
A. HARVEST TIME: A BUSY TIME FOR ALL
1. Harvest time is always a busy time. As you know, I pastored in the Panhandle of Texas for 3 years.
2. While there I watched, first hand, as all the workmen in the Panhandle stopped their regular jobs and worked around the clock – for weeks – until the harvests were gathered in.
3. All night long you could great combines harvesting the various grains and huge trucks driving beside them to receive the grain.
4. It was a sober environment. The whole community was united in one purpose – to gather the harvest while they could.