If you have a bible, I invite you to take it and open it to Jean Chapter 4. For the third time, we return to the story of Jesus in Samaria. Today, we will concentrate on verses 25-42.
Before reading it, let me re-establish the context of this story. Jesus travels from Judea towards Galilee. He is currently in the territory of a people, a people who have been disputing against Israel for a long time now, but what’s even better yet is that the two have similarities in their beliefs. These disputes have often been very serious, and at this moment the two countries detest each other.
And so Jesus arrives at the well of Sichem. He has to take some time to rest. It is noon time and He has not yet had anything to eat. He is tired. So the disciples go find some food and they leave their master alone.
It is then that He meets a Samaritan woman, a woman whose life is a series of failures. She deeply wishes to finally know happiness.
Jesus, who knows everything about each of us (Jean 2:24-25) sees automatically her problem and offers her a spiritual water that can bring her contentment. Then he confronts her with her immorality, and proceeds to answer some of her long-standing religious questions.
Jesus speaks to her as no one has before, and he touches her profoundly.
At this point, she asks Jesus one more question. Let’s look together at verses 25&26 “…”
This is interesting. Note that this is the first time in Jesus’ ministry when he chooses to reveal himself so directly. Never has He spoken so openly: “I am the Messiah!”
And to whom does he choose to tell this? To a woman, who is a Samaritan and a sinner.
These three things are remarkable. They show the extraordinary nature of our Savior.
It would have made more sense if He had revealed himself to a man, who was a Jew, living a righteous live.
At this time, women were not considered as having as much valour as men. The strict rabbis forbade greeting women in public.
These rabbis considered it a fault to speak to women in the street, even if it was to their wives, or their daughters. Here is what some of their prayers which have been found said, “Lord, I thank you for not making me a woman!”
Also, the Samaritans were considered unclean by the Jews. They didn’t want to have any parts with them. If Jesus had been a nationalistic bigot, he would have chosen to reveal Himself to a Jew.
Finally, she was not a person who has had a very good life, and yet it was to her that He had brought a beautiful revelation.
In other terms, Jesus was far, very far from being a chauvinist, a racist or someone who only care about religious folks.
Jesus loves and touches those who need Him without distinction to sex, race, or religion.
It is important to note that Jesus allows people to come to him with no importance of their background. Remember this, because we will return to it later.
But let’s now read the rest of the story. Verses 27-30 “…”
The Samaritan is so surprised and excited of what she has heard, that she returns to the village to tell every one that which she has learned. Notice she even leaves behind her water pot.
Now we know it took a while for the lady to reach the village. Remember Jacob’s well was 8/10th of a mile away.
Meanwhile, an interesting conversation between Jesus and His disciples takes place. Let’s read verses 31-38 “…”
Remember, that Jesus has stayed behind because He was very tired. The disciples tried then to give Him something to eat to regain His strength, but He refused, why?
Because His spirit was elsewhere. He was so focused on the things that were about to happen and of what continues to take place that He could not think of anything else and so He forgot about His hunger and fatigue. Something that was about to take place gave Him courage and strength to continue.
Jesus then looked towards the village and there were people who were arriving to meet Him. Look here then what He said in verses 34-35
Of what did Jesus talk about to them?
The apostles asked among themselves what it might be. Remind yourselves that the disciples were not present during Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan. Also, maybe they did not know why the crowd was coming to them either.
For the moment they found themselves in a region which was known for it’s fertility. Sychar was a agricultural village. It was situated in on of the most fertile valleys of Palestine.
They produced there flour and maize in abundance. In the other places, it took at least 4 months before the harvest of the fields were ready to be reaped. Although in Sychar, the harvest fields flourished the best.
Probably, these are these fields of flour that the apostles will have thought of first when recalling the words of Jesus, but Jesus had in mind another harvest.
It is necessary to know that, for the most part, the people that were coming before Jesus had to have been wearing white clothes. Jesus knows that, because history tells us that clothes dyes were expensive and that only the rich could pay to buy clothes of colour.
Therefore, when Jesus spoke to His apostles, there was a crowd of people in grey/white clothes that were coming towards them. In seeing this, Jesus was deeply touched. He forgot His needs and now thought of that which God had waiting for Him.
Jesus thinks only of the teachings that He has the power to give and of the baptisms that they will have the power to do. The soil at Sychar is so fertile! It is not necessary to take more than a little bit of time in that soil, some hours, perhaps some minutes before the seeds germinate, take root and are ready for the harvest. So, here is what Jesus said to His apostles in verses 36-38.
What is it that these words signify? Simply that Jesus is full of joy because of that which He sees before Him. He is like a farmer that is about to reap the rewards of his efforts.
Even more than that, Jesus tells His apostles that they also have the power to rejoice. They have not sowed seeds, they have not talked to the Samaritan, but they will collect the fruits of Jesus’ labor. Together, they will take part in this joy with Christ. In the eyes of God, that which matters is not who made what, what position one has over another, but it’s that all participate in this task with eternal consequences.
See now the results of this labor, read verses 39-42
During the next two days, Jesus and His disciples stayed in this town and they converted dozens of people.
I would like that we stop here today to think deeper into the text and finish these lessons.
What is everything that we have learned here in this series of studies? I.
I can now give you some examples of present times. Did you know that Haiti, the place where Voodoo was predominate is today one of the most Christian places in the world?
A journal report stated that the Church of Christ is the most rapidly developing religious movement on that island. For example Joseph Worndle, with the help of some students of the local preaching school has established 88 congregations in that region. These assemblies represent more that 17,000 converts.
Within a three month period alone, last year there were more than 1,100 baptisms. In this distasteful region, within 8 years 60 congregations now see a church family of 10,000 people and Voodoo has all but completely dissapeard.
Who would have believed that a French speaking country with a culture established in Voodoo for many centuries would have become so God centred?
Another article, in a publication within our churches has reported that in India, in 30 years, 1 million people have been baptized. Thousands of small churches have been established and have the potential to become greater but they lack the workers to harvest the fields.
Who would have believed that; India which has been established in Hinduism and was situated by a caste system has found roots in Christianity?
Furthermore, I have not forgotten one of my professors at the Sunset Bible Institute, who was supposed to speak to one of our early assemblies and arrived a few minutes late with a pile of papers in his arms. It was the time where one always used the printing paper with the perforated edges on the side that you had to remove from each piece and they were all strung along in one large line.
He let them fall on the ground, then he took the first page and walked to the front of the room. The papers unfolded themselves and followed him to the podium but when he arrived there, only a tenth of the papers had been strung from the pile. He then raised the paper he had in his hands and told us “this is the compilation of all the names of the people who have asked in the past few months to follow our correspondence courses.”
It was Impressive!
Who would have believed it would has been possible 15 years ago in a communist country where it had been declared that God does not exist?
Today, are there not places that we have all judged non receptive? Are those places in France, with our neighbours, in our family or some of our friends?
The places where I see the things that cross my prejudices, like the apostles in Samaria, Christ sees them with the eyes of God. He sees their hearts are thirsty for the good news and they are ready to be touched with His good words. Jesus told them “the fields are ready for the harvest!”
Did you know that three times, Jesus will use this expression in the gospels? Maybe you will tell yourself this is not astonishing because the gospels repeat the same stories but it is not the case! Jesus said this on three different occasions: In Matthew 9:37 before He sent the twelve on their mission Luke 10:2 when He had sent the twelve but not yet the 70 And in Jean 4 when Jesus was in Samaria and not in Judea
Do you know then what the problem is? There are not enough people who understand the Importance of the work in the fields of God.
There is an enormous lack of workers.
Brian recalled to me an illustration that was very good.
There was one time where some people lived close to an escarpment on the coast of the United States. Often they would see ships travelling through the tempests and squalls. One day the habitants said to themselves “We have a small boat, let’s take it and find those who have wrecked in the storms.” So they set out to save all of the sailors who would be lost to the sea.
At the start of a time, they organized themselves and they bought life vests, lifelines and buoys. They started to prepare hot chocolate and tea blankets for those they will save. They would save dozens of people.
Then some years later they constructed a hangar. When the times were good they arranged their boat in this hangar. They kept it well ready and dry. After some time they improved the hangar and constructed a wonderful boat with all the commodities. Although in all of this, they lost sight of their first objective; to save people who had been lost in the sea. Finally when the time came to go out and save those in the storm the habitants refused to take their boat out to save the others.
Do you know why? Because they didn't want to damage the mats while bringing back dirty people, to ruin the benches with wet people sitting on them, and to change the happy atmosphere with sombre people who had real problems.
This story is our own. It’s those Christians who travel the centuries and have lost their first motivation to save the lost. It’s these Christians who do not want to carry the will of God and volunteer to work in the fields of God.
Do you know that churches have existed where they could no longer continue because they could not find any volunteers to present the sermons? There are many congregations that die because they could not find a preacher. They called desperately for help but no one heard them.
Where are those that prepare themselves with enough time to work as a harvester in the fields of God?
I would also like to tell you that it is hard to see how many villages to not have assemblies. It is necessary to drive at least 5 hours to find the closest Church of Christ to us.
Make a circle on a map about the same as 400 kilometres and count how many places on the map are churches, churches that you could return to. Count how many regions in
France do not have a chance to have a group of baptized believers for the remission of their sins. That should lay heavy on your heart.
Where are those who make a plan to go and establish a church? Where are those who can make a difference and those who could talk to their friends about Jesus?
There are churches who have need of elders, deacons, teachers for adult classes and children’s’ classes. There are men and women in each church who have the need to be formed to have the power to serve God.
There are thousands of people around Strasbourg who have need to hear the Gospel. There are young people who have need to be taught regularily about the basis of our faith and there are also those countries who still don’t have preachers because they have been judged as non receptive.
One of my professors had returned from a short foreign mission trip of a few years. This mission upset him. He then wrote a song to express his sentiments exactly. Here are the words to this song:
I talked to a man about Jesus, He listened with wondrous surprise. Then I felt the start of pain in my heart when he asked me with tears in his eyes: “Where have you been for so long? Why didn’t you come to my door before? Just living in sin so long I have been, why didn’t you tell me before?”
I told him the Lord came from glory to bring down salvation to men. He joyfully heard the wonderful word, then he wept as he asked me again: “Where have you been for so long? Why didn’t you come to my door before? Just living in sin so long I have been, why didn’t you tell me before?”
To all the whole world tell the tidings that Christ is the Life, Truth and Way. So when time is done and judgment has come, no one in that throng may need say: “Where have you been for so long? Why didn’t you come to my door before? Just living in sin so long I have been, why didn’t you tell me before?”
God has need for workers in His fields. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. III.
This has now brought me to my third point: What I can do to change that.
The response is simple, have the same heart as Jesus.
Jesus was ready to forget Himself to bring salvation to others. With little importance if He was thirsty or hungry, tired physically or mentally, the will of God is what makes it possible for those who want to walk, able to come to God.
Jesus shows here that it’s not the amount of work by the planter or harvester that counts. It’s that He/She does the works of God as an offering of their hearts to God.
Maybe it’s not your ability to be an evangelist in time, but you can still do something.
Jesus said in Matthew 9:38 A)
Therefore, it is necessary that the people pray for the work. When is the last time you have said a prayer for the evangelism of the World?
More than that, we have a need that people pray for the harvest of ministers that will become fervent outside their homes when others are sleeping or watching TV. B)
Therefore we have need of volunteers that can write articles in the bulletin, distribute invitations, invite people to come to church, to become deacons or elders, and teachers of adult and children’s classes.
Try to remind yourselves who wrote this poem: “He has no hands, but our hands to do his work today. He has no feet but our feet to lead men in his way He has no voice but our voice to tell men how he died He has no help but our help to lead them to his side
“In world war 2, a church building in Strasbourg was bombed and virtually destroyed. In the rubble, they found the statue of Jesus pretty much intact, with the exception of his hands. An artisan, as they began to rebuild the structure, offered to sculpt them a brand new statue of Jesus. It was a kind offer. They considered it for a while, but then declined. Their reason? The statue would be a reminder to all that the hands Jesus uses are our hands.” C)
Finally, I would like to say that it is necessary that we as Christians make ourselves ready to serve wherever God wants us to work, the same is for the times when our thoughts do not correspond with God’s will. It is necessary that we have the attitude of Isaiah that when he heard the invitation of God to go and speak to the lost he responded “I am here, Send Me!” Isaiah 6:8-9 He tells us, as Jesus told us also, speak to the lost without regard to sex, race, or piety; speak to them without prejudice!
Why; because it is an incomparable joy for those who are ready to do the work of God? Jesus said in John 4:36
I end my lesson in asking you, do you know the incomparable joy that a man feels when he walks in accord with our Master?
What joy is comparable to that of knowing who can save us from being eternally dead?
Do you know something of importance with as much importance as the fields of God? What other work will have the celestial rewards?
There is not another! We have today the chance, privilege, and the power to work in His fields. Therefore let’s not neglect the things that can be the most important and the most valiant for our lives.
We are here Lord, Send Us!