#3 “Open your eyes and look upon the fields”
Commands of Christ
John 4:35-38 “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.” v. 35 (NIV)
Freedom: There is no need to worry about the response to the Gospel. There are always those ready to receive Christ. Our effort will eventually bear fruit, even if we have the work of simply planting and watering (1 Corinthians 3:8). In that case we will still receive a reward for our work.
- Immediately Jesus took the focus of the new disciples away from themselves and their personal relationship to Christ, swinging it instead upon the unsaved. Each knew how God called him and how God had changed him and each knew Jesus. This was sufficient to begin. Some Christians don’t mature beyond repeating Jesus’ command to repent and to be saved. Many tell me that they ask God to save them repeatedly (unnecessary—you cannot be born again and again) and repent often, but that seems to be the limit of their spiritual progress. Others learn to pray all manner of blessings upon themselves and to even command demons (so they suppose), but stay focused upon what God will do for them, instead of how they can serve God. God essentially promised to meet our basic needs of food and clothing (and usually shelter), as we seek first God’s Kingdom (Matt. 6:31 -33).
- When Jesus commanded this, Samaritans from the village of Sychar were walking toward them. Samaritans attempted to worship God (Yahweh), but at a point around 128 BC dedicated their Jewish temple on Mt. Gerizim to the Greek god Zeus (New Bible Dictionary, 2nd ed., p. 1062). Some associate these Samaritans with the Old Testament Samaritans of 2 Kings 17:33, who also attempted to serve God and “their own gods.” Jews would take a long detour around Samaria to avoid any contact (John 4:9). These despised and religiously ignorant people were “ripe for harvest” (John 4:35 ). They were of a similar race, culture and religion, but were outcasts and unsaved. Not only was Jesus interested in evangelizing Samaritans, but was willing to risk His reputation by a private conversation in a public place with an immoral woman (John 4:7,18). It was that woman who compelled the villagers to walk over to meet Christ, and many of them believed in Christ as a result (John 4:39 -41).
- What lessons did Jesus convey? First, develop an eye for those who are unsaved and prepare yourself to meet them. One of the best ways is to memorize Scripture and to have a one-page written account of how you came to know Christ and what you life has been like since. Then tell people how Christ has met your needs and changed your life.
Evangelism and even short-term cross-cultural mission aren’t Christian graduate school. They came prior in point of time to personal ethical teaching and missions (on-the-job) training. Repentance and faith are the ABCs of the Gospel (Heb. 6:1)—the foundation with which every Christian is familiar. Actually evangelism and missions are the best stimuli available to heartfelt reliance upon God and spiritual growth. It will reveal our weaknesses in prayer, in character, and in Bible knowledge, as well as our complete inability to do anything of spiritual value apart from Christ. If we can clearly present the plan of salvation, we can evangelize. If we can’t, go to an evangelism outline for a sample gospel presentation and to perhaps the color coded verse list for useful scripture verses.
- Realize that one person sows the seed, while another reaps the harvest ( 4:37 ). Paul adds that others water the seed before the harvest (1 Cor. 3:7). For whatever part you play in causing seed to bear fruit, you will be rewarded (1 Cor. 3:8). Jesus spoke of the harvester receiving wages for the harvest of helping people find eternal life in Christ (John 4:36 ). We don’t have to lead someone to Christ. Our job is to help them come closer to Christ and to do that work well. It may take 6-7 presentations of the Gospel for a person to come to Christ, if God is drawing him or her. No matter what the work, all rejoice!
- Globally, 66.1% of the world population is not Christian. There were 1,747,034,000 unevangelized persons in the world by mid-2004, which is 27.5% of the world population.
There were 1,271,884,000 Muslims, 841,078,000 Hindus and 376,574 Buddhists and altogether about 4,273,554,000 non-Christians on the planet by July 2004 (Int’l Bulletin of Missionary Research, Jan. 2004, David B. Barrett & Todd M. Johnson see ).
34.3 million die without Christ annually- 13.2 million of them were never evangelized. 65% of those who die annually aren’t Christians (Barrett and Johnson, World Christian Trends, AD 30-AD 2200, c. 2001, p. 59). This means that over 36,000 people die each day, on average, without ever having been told of Jesus Christ.
- We need to enter into the harvest and ask God for more workers (Luke 10:2) to join us. Today some of the greatest needs are among people who have never been reached with the Gospel. The “Adopt-A-People” clearinghouse list those who have not been reached yet, including 153 “ripe and ready” people groups ( accessed 9/13/04 ). We can ask God to lead us to those He is already drawing to Himself (John 6:44 ).
- Do you have a vision and are you asking God to make you one of His harvesters?