Letters to the Prison - Week 41

Hello, everyone!  
We’re so grateful for this chance to study God’s word together with you.  Don’t forget to thank the people who made this opportunity available to us.  Also, if you want to follow along and need a Bible, ask for one!  
We’re considering John chapter 4 and there is a brief moment between when the Samaritan woman goes off to call her whole town to come and meet Jesus and when she returns with the entire town behind her.  During that short time, Jesus says something amazing to his disciples.  As the townspeople are approaching, Jesus says:
•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.” -John 4:36-38
What does all of this mean?  Keeping in mind the question “who does Jesus say he is?” what are we seeing here?  Jesus is using farming terms to talk about faithful people who go and proclaim the truth about him.  What is being sown is the Gospel –the good news about Jesus Christ.  The harvest consists of those who believe in him –they are the ones who will have eternal life.  So, “sowers” and “reapers” are people who proclaim the good news about Jesus and lead others to him.  In this case, the Samaritan woman is both a sower and a reaper.  She went back to town to “sow seeds” by saying “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:29).  But she is also reaping as she then leads the town back to Jesus.  
In farming, it is often the case that the same person sows seed and then reaps the harvest.  Yet, when it comes to harvesting fruit for eternal life, it is not always the way it happens, since quite often “one sows and another reaps.”  It’s not always the same person who “plants a seed” by having a conversation about Jesus with someone who then “reaps” a harvest by leading that same person to Jesus.  Jesus in fact confirms this when he tells his disciples that others have labored and that they have entered into that labor (John 4:38).  All of this makes sense.  
Yet what is truly profound is a simple phrase in verse 38: “I sent you.”  The fact that Jesus sends “laborers” to “gather fruit for eternal life” says a lot.  Let’s take a look at what must be true if Jesus says, “I sent you.”  It means:
•Jesus has the authority to send laborers –both sowers and reapers.  So, he owns the whole “farm” and has the power to send people to work in it.
•Jesus is the one in control.  He’s also involved in the process –he works through those who faithfully sow and reap.
•Since the “fruit” in question is eternal life, Jesus must have the authority and ability to grant eternal life.
•Jesus understands the whole process.  He knows who will believe and when they are ready to believe.  This is how he knows when to send sowers and reapers.
•Jesus has all this power and authority and knowledge for only one reason:  He is God.
Jesus no sooner drops this “bombshell” on his disciples then they have to turn and face the Samaritans now coming to meet Jesus.  We immediately see the result of the work of the Samaritan woman:
•39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”  … 41 And many more believed because of his word. -John 4:39, 41
So, we see that pretty much the entire village of Sychar came to believe in Jesus Christ.  What a huge difference from what happened in chapter 3.  Back then, Nicodemus left the conversation with Jesus and… nothing happened.  End of story, right?  Well, we haven’t heard the last of Nicodemus.  But it is clear that there is a huge difference between what he did in response to Jesus and what the Samaritan woman did.  And the result is obvious and immediate:  A whole village comes to know Jesus.  Interestingly, the Samaritans themselves have something to say now about who Jesus is.  Look at verse 42:
•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.”        -John 4:42
They know that Jesus is the Savior of the world.  
So, these people of Sychar came to meet Jesus.  They listened to him and believed that Jesus is who he says he is.  Why did they come to him?  Because they had heard the testimony of someone who had met Jesus and been transformed by him –the Samaritan woman who had been despised and rejected by them was accepted and loved by Jesus, and she was a new person as a result.  And the people of the village saw the difference and came to see who had made such a change in her.  That person was Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
This is the same work Jesus does in us and through us.  As we believe in him and trust him and submit to him, he cleanses us from our sins and transforms us.  We are new people in Jesus Christ.  And when our friends and family and co-workers and other people in our lives see the (sometimes shocking) difference in us, we then have the opportunity to “sow” seeds –to tell them about how Jesus changed our lives—so that they too might “come and see” that Jesus is indeed who he says he is and find out that Jesus is their Savior, too.  In this way, we too enter into the labor of harvesting the fruit of eternal life for the kingdom of God.
If you’re a believer, we hope that God will give you an opportunity to “sow” or “reap” where you are –that the evidence of your transformed life will be a testimony to those who see you and wonder why you’re so different—and that you’ll have the opportunity to tell those people to “come and see” Jesus.
If you haven’t yet answered the question “is Jesus Christ who he says he is?”  We hope you’ll give it some thought --and that you’ll say “yes.”  
Jesus loves you.  And, so do we!  Until next week, keep reading John 4!

Dean A.



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