Very few of the events reported as “news” generate rejoicing, but instead, they generate weeping. Yet, there is always one event that generates rejoicing in heaven and on earth, and that is the salvation of a sinner.
The passage that stood out in the Day 161 reading was John 4:35-36 which tells us that upon the salvation of a sinner, there ought to be temporal rejoicing by the one who sows and the one who reaps. John 4:35–36 (ESV) reads:
35 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. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.
Looking at the heavenly rejoicing, Luke 15:10 (ESV) tells us there is joy in heaven when a sinner is saved:
10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Looking at John 4:35-36, it is necessary to consider the surrounding text to better understand these verses, and John 4:31–38 (ESV) reads:
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 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. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Breaking the text into phrases, i.e., the study tool of “phrasing” per Bill Mounce’s book Greek for the Rest of Us, is a very helpful way to better appreciate the flow of a text and the word relationships in the text.
By way of background, Jesus’ dialog with the Samaritan woman at the well had ended and she had returned to the city telling of her experience with Jesus. John 4:28–30 (ESV) reads [emphasis added]:
28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.
The Samaritan evangelism project was about to begin. Yet, while Jesus was focusing on spiritual food as represented by lost souls that would be saved (see vv. 32 ,34-38), the disciples had their minds on physical food (see vv. 31, 33). Jesus was concerned was the harvest of lost souls that was right in their faces. He made that clear by the distinction between the physical agricultural harvest (v. 35a) and the spiritual harvest that was at hand per verse 35b, which reads:
Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.
Jesus then went on to emphasize that evangelism is a team event where per verse 37 “One sows and another reaps,” but both rejoice:
36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.
Jesus then made direct application of the “one sows and another reaps” principle to the disciples:
38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.
What this passage says to me is that all Christ-followers are on the same team. We should not harbor any jealousy or resentment about fellow believers who are sowers when we are reapers or the reapers when we are the sowers. What Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:6-8 (NIV) is consistent with what Jesus taught:
6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.
One commentator (Gangel, K. O. (2000). John (Vol. 4). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers) says it well [emphasis added]:
The Samaritan evangelism project had already begun, and Jesus wanted these disciples to understand the principle of uniting sowers and reapers. The main focus was spiritual, a Samaritan model of a task that would last until Jesus returns. In eternity’s efforts, we can allow no competition among those who work in God’s fields. Some sow, some reap, but they rejoice together—an appropriate picture of what the church ought to be in collective ministry today. We would love to focus the spotlight on reaping, but there is no reaping without sowing. Sowing is useless unless someone has watered and cultivated, sometimes for a long period of time. Whatever our tasks in the harvest, we must handle them in cooperation with other workers.
If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, then you fall into the category of those Samaritans coming to see Jesus who without divine intervention are headed to an eternity in hell. But, just like for many of them, your destiny can change as recorded in John 4:40–42 (ESV) [emphasis added]:
40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Today can be the day of your salvation. Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved.
The Professor Grant Horner Bible Reading System is a great 500 day Bible reading plan. The following link presents a description of the plan ( https://sohmer.net/media/professor_grant_horners_bible_reading_system.pdf). My goal is to briefly share my thoughts on the passage that stands out the most for me each day.
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