The disciples show up just as Jesus has finished talking to a shady lady at Jacob’s well. She has gone back to the village with her tale of a man who told her everything she ever did, a man who offered her living water, a man who must indeed be the Messiah, the Christ of God!
Pointing to the fields of grain blowing in the breeze, Jesus reminds the disciples of their own daily small talk about crops and weather – the sort of thing any of us in Bangor might talk about – how many months until harvest – how time flies – how the weather is changing.
And then, as the Samaritans from the village make their way across the fields to Jacob’s well, Jesus says: “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” Open your eyes – look at them all – a great harvest of souls ripe for the picking – often one at a time – like this lost Samaritan woman.
Paul told his flock that he prayed that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened. Every day people troop past us with hidden chains, people who perhaps are not like us or not to our liking. But all of these people have souls – destined to spend eternity in God’s presence or forever cut off from Him. These souls are like you and me – wounded by sin. They need Christ just as much as we need Him.
The harvest is great and time is running out. God will surely gather in His elect –every last one of them. But it is our own great loss if we want no part of the privilege of gathering in the harvest.
Mission work is not an option. It is not an extra-curricular activity. The marching orders of the Christian Church are clear – to make disciples of all nations – to baptize and to teach all things which Christ has commanded. The Church which takes God at His word on this – which lives not for itself but gives itself away in service to Christ will be blessed.
On the other hand, we all know what happens to a car if you leave it in the garage and never drive it because you’re afraid you’ll wear it out – or what happens to a house if you let it sit and never live in it because you don’t want to get it dirty. It goes to ruin.
The same thing happens to a church which thinks it can guard its existence by selfishness. Jesus set down the eternal principle in more than one way: “He who tries to save his life will lose it, but he who loses himself for My sake and for the Gospel’s – the same will find it.” And again, “To him who has, the same will be given more – but to the one who has not, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.” Christ loves us. He loves our neighbor just as much. “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!”