Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

John 4:35-38
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: John 4:35
v35: Then Jesus explained to His disciples what He was seeing in the Spirit. He told them that they needed to recognize that they were standing in a ripe harvest field of souls. He told them to open their spiritual eyes and look around at the responsiveness of the people who lived there and to recognize that the Holy Spirit was powerfully at work. To illustrate His point Jesus pictured that place as a field of grain. In that region the barley harvest began in mid-April and the wheat harvest about a month later. Judging from His caution to them that they not say “that it is four months until the harvest arrives” (literal), they were probably passing through Samaria about mid-December or possibly mid-January, depending on which crop He means (A. Plummer, John, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1893, p.124). This tells us that He had been ministering in Judea prior to this for about eight or nine months.

Monday: John 4:35
v35 (continued): Though the farmers in the area would have to wait another four months for the seed they had planted to ripen and be ready for harvest, many of those who lived there were like ripe grain ready to be evangelized. The disciples’ attention had been focused only on passing through the area as fast as they could, and they had not noticed the spiritual condition of the people. So Jesus told them to “lift up your eyes and behold (look carefully and think about what you see) that the fields are already white unto harvest” (literal).

Tuesday: John 4:36-37
vs36-37: Then He added, “The one who reaps receives wages and gathers fruit into eternal life so that the one who sows and the one who reaps may rejoice at the same time. For in this [case] the word is true that one is sowing [while] another is reaping” (paraphrase). In other words He was telling His disciples that what was unfolding before their eyes was a miracle. It is very likely that by the time He spoke these words crowds of people had already begun walking toward them. In a place where there was no reason to expect such spiritual hunger or openness to Jesus, large numbers of people had listened to the woman’s testimony, dropped whatever they were doing and were hurrying out to meet Him. In that situation the time span between hearing about Jesus and believing in Him became shortened to the point that it nearly disappeared.

Wednesday: John 4:36-37
vs36-37 (continued): The normal process of preaching to someone and then waiting months or even years for them to make a decision didn’t happen in this case. In less than three days a large number of people from Sychar and the surrounding region believed that Jesus was “the Savior of the World” (vs39-42). To explain why this was so, Jesus drew the attention of His disciples to a promise which began with Moses (Lev 26:5) and was then applied to the Messiah by the prophet Amos (Am 9:11-13). Jesus didn’t quote the passage word for word, but He pictured the scene that Amos described so accurately that His disciples would have easily recognized the prophet’s familiar statement: “‘Behold, days are coming’ declares the Lord, ‘when the plowman will overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows seed’” (Am 9:13).

Thursday: John 4:36-37
vs36-37 (continued): Eight centuries earlier Amos had prophesied to the northern kingdom of Israel, including the region which was now called Samaria. And in that prophesy he had foreseen its destruction but had also heard God say that He would not totally destroy it. A day would come when God would “raise up the fallen booth of David” (Am 9:11), meaning He would restore David’s fallen dynasty by causing one of his sons to sit on his throne forever (2Sa 7:12-16). That son, of course, would be the Messiah, and Amos went on to say that righteous Gentiles would be included in the Messiah’s kingdom (Am 9:12). Then he made the statement about the plowman overtaking the reaper. On one level those words mean that when the Messiah arrived the land itself would become so fertile that people would still be cutting and winnowing grain when the time came to plant the next year’s crop, and they would still be treading grapes, which normally ripened in July, late into the fall when it was time to plow the fields for the next year’s grain harvest. But as Jesus explains to His disciples, on a deeper level this promise about miraculous fertility was meant to indicate an increased saving of souls that God would do when the Messiah arrived.

Friday: John 4:36-37
vs36-37 (continued): The Messiah would bring with Him the power of the Holy Spirit, and that would result in an amazing harvest of humans. Jesus told them that what they were watching take place there in Sychar was an example of that prophesy coming to pass. Because He, the Messiah, was present and because the power of the Holy Spirit was at work, they were about to watch a rapid and unreasonably large ingathering of people into God’s kingdom. Later on He would illustrate this same truth by providing two miraculous catches of fish at the Sea of Galilee (Lk 5:1-11; Jn 21:1-11).

Saturday: John 4:38
v38: Having reminded His disciples that they should expect such unusual responsiveness because He, the Messiah, had come, He then went on to caution them not to become proud. He was sending them to reap a harvest they had not sown. Much work had previously been done by others to prepare the Samaritans, and for that matter the Jews, to believe in Jesus when they met Him. He said, “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored, others have labored and you have entered into their labor.” Paul said the same sort of thing to the Corinthians when he said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth” (1Co 3:6). Both Jesus and Paul are reminding us that each one of us has only a limited part to play in the saving work of God. By the time someone is saved God has used many people and events to prepare that heart to receive Him. 

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