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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

08 August 2006

White Fields and a Coming Harvest

Q: In John 4:35 do you know what Jesus was saying, when he said: “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest” (KJV)?

A: It appears that Jesus was setting a contrast for His disciples. The earthly reality: The crops were just beginning to grow. The heavenly truth: By the work of the Holy Spirit, people were presently ready to be gathered into the kingdom.

White for HarvestConsider the entire verse: “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.”

The entire task of expanding the kingdom remained under God’s guidance and direction. The disciples were the latest in a long line of those sent to sow the Word and harvest its results: “I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor. (v. 38)”

Even among the Samaritans, whose understanding of the Scriptures was minimal and whose keeping of the Law was suspect, God’s Word had prepared hearts to receive the Gospel of forgiveness. Moses and the prophets had sown, now Christ and His disciples were surrounded by the “fields ... white for harvest.”

God sets His own times and seasons. By noting the difference between the four months awaiting the earthly harvest and the immediacy of the eternal harvest, Jesus prepares His Church to be ready always both to sow His Word and to reap the results.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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