Summary: This message is designed to stir Christians toward evangelism using the words of Jesus. The message addresses how we should view unbelievers and how we are to respond to the opportunities that are before us.
Last Sunday I talked about an increased emphasis on evangelism. This morning I want to talk about three instructions Jesus gave His followers concerning the harvest.
Let’s begin by turning to John 4:35. Here Jesus says to His disciples, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”i
Jesus is clearly telling His followers to:
I. Look at the Harvest.
He is likening unsaved people to a great harvest field. And He is saying this field is ripe and ready to be reaped.ii
In the context, Jesus has just brought salvation to the woman at the well. Out of her encounter with the Lord, she led the men of her city to come to Jesus. John 4:39 says “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’ 40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word. 42 Then they said to the woman, ‘Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.’"
Not only does Jesus tell His disciples that the harvest is ripe, He demonstrates it by leading many of these Samaritans into the faith.
This would have been a very unlikely harvest from the disciples’ perspective. First, they were Samaritans. The Jews viewed the Samaritans with contempt. Samaritans did not come to Jerusalem to worship as God had instructed. Their heritage was defiled with paganism. They were not even on the right wave length as far as the Jews were concerned. It had to be a surprise for the disciples to see so many of Samaritans believe on Jesus. And perhaps more shocking was the way the Lord brought in this harvest. Who would have imagined that an immoral Samaritan woman would be the key evangelist? When it comes to evangelism, God has a lot of surprises in store. Often the people we think are least likely to receive the message are the first ones to come into the kingdom. Jesus told the priests of the temple, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.” (Matt 21:31). Those temple priests should have been the first ones to receive Messiah. But their hearts were hard as stone. Outwardly they looked good. They lived respectful religious lives. But inside they were unreceptive to the truth. Yet these Samaritans were a ripe harvest field. It had to be a powerful lesson on evangelism for the disciples.
The Living Bible captures the message Jesus was communicating to His disciples. John 4:35 “Do you think the work of harvesting will not begin until the summer ends four months from now? Look around you! Vast fields of human souls are ripening all around us, and are ready now for reaping.” If the Devil can get Christians to put off evangelism, and keep putting it off, he will have accomplished his purpose. Do you intend to “someday” tell sinners about Jesus? (Perhaps tomorrow, next week, or four months from now?) One simple tactic of the Devil can
be summed up in these two words, “not now.”
Here are a few suggestions the Devil uses to get Christians to put off the harvest.
(1) You’re not yet spiritual enough to tell others about Jesus. You don’t know the Bible well enough. They might ask you something that you can’t answer; and you’ll probably say the wrong thing. But think about what had just happened in John 4. Multitudes had come to Christ through the testimony of a brand new convert. She was certainly no theologian. She didn’t really have much credibility in the community: married and divorced five times, and now just living with a guy. Who was she to tell others about Christ? But she was a woman with an experience! She was a person who had genuinely encountered the Lord and was profoundly impacted by that encounter. Her method of evangelism was simple. Just tell others what God has done for you. It doesn’t mean you’re perfect. You’re still work-in-process. But this much you know, “I was once blind, but now I see.”iii Just tell people God is no respecter of persons. What He is doing for you, he will do for them.
(2) They’re not interested in this right now. They are having too much fun in sin. Even if there is some truth to that suggestion, “The wages of sin is death.”iv Plant the seed now. Even if they don’t respond now, when they hit bottom they know where to go.