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John 4:32-37

Spiritual Priorities

In telling his disciples to lift up their eyes and look on the fields, Jesus is saying something about spiritual priorities. He has already told them: “I have food to eat of which you do not know,” and “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work” (vv. 32,34). Now in effect he’s saying to them: What you should concentrate on at this moment is not our picnic, but those people coming across the fields of Sychar led by the woman to whom I’ve been speaking.

Whenever opportunity affords, evangelism is to be our first priority. It’s also, or ought to be, a joyful privilege: “He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together” (v. 36). There’s nothing more worthwhile than seeking under God to be the human agent in saving men and women for all eternity.

Evangelism is also a partnership. Jesus said to his disciples, “I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor” (v. 37). What did he mean? He meant that he had been witnessing to the Samaritan woman, and she had been witnessing to her friends and neighbors and now they were coming to the well. It would be the disciples’ privilege to “reap” them: to teach them more about Jesus and establish them in the kingdom and family of God.

It takes great humility to say, without jealousy or resentment, “I sowed, now you reap.” But that’s the pattern. In the winning and nurturing of souls sometimes we will be the reapers and sometimes we will also be the sowers, preparing the way for others to reap. Yet each role is essential; so we must be ready to fulfill either.

Your Father Loves You by James Packer, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986, page for March 27