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John 4:31-38, NIV
31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat something." 32 But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about." 33 Then his disciples said to each other, "Could someone have brought him food?"
34 "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor."
January 27, 2011From the Teacher to the learners: "You know nothing about how I am nourished!" They didn't understand, weren't listening, not really listening. Food is food, what you put in your mouth when you're hungry. It grows from seed in the ground, you pick it from trees or produce it from farm animals. So Jesus has food we know nothing about! What, where, how? Jesus explains.
My food is my passion, that to which God has called me. Picture this: a field, the one who plants, the one who reaps. Look out there. You think there's four months till harvest. No way! Open your eyes and look at those fields. They are ready, ripe, the grain is fully developed right now.
The reaper drawing wages implies the reaper is working for someone else. The field we are looking at has an owner. Jesus knew who he worked for. Do I? Jesus knew who sent him and what his task was. Do I?
In his mind's eye, Jesus looked out over God's field and saw reapers already on the job, already bringing in the harvest. A crop for eternal life is how he expressed it. He envisioned the one who planted and the one who reaped happy together and cheering at the outcome. Jesus concluded by telling his disciples and all who follow him that just as his Father in heaven sent him into the field, so now he sends them to reapthe benefits where someone else had planted.
Live today where you are and with the intensity of a laborer at the end of the growing season when all that remains is the work of cutting, gathering, and storing the grain in the barn. When the harvest is complete, there will be time for joy and celebration. Workers can take wages home to their family, smile and be at peace.
More journal entries
January 21, 2011
Jesus: This is what sustains me--to do the will of my Father in heaven and complete the job. To do and to finish it. In his analogy, harvesting a crop for eternal life. The other three Gospels talk about the kingdom of heaven. John likes to use the image of "eternal life."
Jesus probably never really defined eternal life. But it's life on some level other than physical. Just as food meant more than physical food, so the life Jesus offered people involves more than the number of years allotted to an individual. Is it life lived here and now in the abiding presence of our Father in heaven? Is it life after death? A soul that never dies? A fulfilling task that gives meaning to, and outlives, one's life?
(February 7, 2011 I was reminded yesterday of the prayer Jesus prayed for his disciples just before his crucifixion in which he does give a description of eternal life. John 17:3 - "This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.")
November 13, 1982Food--Jesus didn't always need or desire it. He was human like us in body so he felt the pangs of hunger. But there were more important things, more important plans, that deserved his attention and gave him greater satisfaction. It's easy to become slaves to food. Our stomachs shout like a master, demanding that we stuff food in our mouths. Satisfy me or I'll make you suffer. Every time I practice the discipline of fasting, I break the domineering powers of hunger for awhile. But that only lasts a few days, maybe a week and then I'm back to satisfying the cravings of my stomach again. Who's the boss? Who serves whom?
The disciples said, "Eat." Jesus replied, "I don't need it." What's wrong with this guy! Why doesn't he eat? Had the disciples purchased food from the Samaritans, or gleaned the fields and orchards? Jesus wanted water, at least he had asked the woman for some. But he didn't want the food his disciples brought him. Who's the culprit? Someone gave him food.
Jesus had food they knew nothing about! Nourishment from within, not without; from above, not below. God was his food, his meat and drink. At this moment, physical food distracted him, deterred him from his main desire.
November 16, 1982My food, my nourishment, is doing.My food is in giving, not only receiving.Not my will, but God's will.I have been sent, commissioned and that is my life.
How opposite of today's "pop" psychology where I am the center of everything. When Jesus did what felt good to him, he was pursuing his Father's will. Even in Gethsemane, not my will but Thine. We only live once. Just like us, Jesus got one chance at this earthly life. We are so concerned about being fulfilled. We don't want to miss any pleasur or accomplishment we could have experienced. Did Jesus have these thoughts and feelings? Most people have some regrets about missed opportunities. What kind of regrets did Jesus have?
November 17, 1982
My food is not only doing, but finishing the work my Father has given me. Being faithful to the end. God, is it possible for someone like me to be faithful to the end? If my confidence is in you, yes; if my confidence is in myself, no. For Jesus to finish his work, required no more than 3 years. The Gospel writer John lived to be an old man. It's encouraging to know there are people getting an assignment from God, or people starting a new journey of faith, at my age and older. Here I am talking about finishing and don't even know if I've started yet.
Judges 5:31 - The sun is always rising for those who love God! Over the hill does not exist in God's book. The best is not in the past. Each day we can begin again, fresh, with renewed strength, faith and courage. The best is just ahead because God goes before us, or the best is right now because God walks beside us. Each day is a new beginning. If life for me is never more than it is today, that is OK because daily I walk with God and there can be no greater calling, no greater accomplishment. I have missed nothing in life when I walk with the Creator.
Father, help these words to become real for me. Heal my eyes of faith in Jesus' name and through his touch, that I may perceive life with new eyes. Because I love God, I am always a rising sun, forever renewed in strength. In my spirit this is true even though physically my body runs down as the hours of the day pile on. Through all the sunsets of my life, may the sun be rising in my spirit. Thank you for this hope and vision. Amen.
November 18, 1982
Not in four months . . . Not in four or forty years. The moment is now. How strange this must have sounded to the disciples. They were talking about eating; Jesus is talking about fields ready to be harvested. Harvest is in the fall of the year. Today, for the disciples, it was springtime. Springtime - I want it to be spring all my life. Spring is awesome, like sunrises are.
Getting back on track, Jesus said the time is now and there's much work to be done. Now. Open your eyes and look. These words are not comforting. They call for an abrupt change, for action. What are you waiting for? Look at the field; the crops are ready now. Surprise - Surprise! Its never been like this before. This is completely unnatural. It's only spring and the harvest is upon us already! I'm not ready yet, I want to wait, be cautious, make sure the time is right. Let others go first. I'll follow after someone else leads the way.
How typical to want to eat when there's a job to be done. We delay and make excuses. I need to balance my life--the working and the eating. I could be working so much that I don't have enough time to eat from my Father's hand. Or I could be eating so much that I have too little time to do my Father's will.
Jesus told us to look at the fields. What/Where are my fields. I know how to be helpful, to listen, and bring cheer and once in a while I even put in a good word for my heavenly Father! I visit several hours each week at Conestoga View, teach Sunday School, attend to the needs of my family, help out wherever needed at church. Are these my fields or are there others?
Jesus was pointing out something new and unexpected--a springtime harvest, reaping what someone else had planted. What/where are these fields in my life? With hesitation and some fear, I say yes I want to look over these fields. Not wanting to and yet wanting to, because my desire is to go the whole journey with Jesus. If you have fields to show me, than I want to see them.
January 26, 2011The reapers are rewarded--is that like being paid? What was Jesus' wage? His reward? The Bible shows a difference between finite and infinite, temporal and eternal. Someone could point to his death on a cross, the humiliation, pain and intense physical suffering in his final day on earth, and ask what kind of reward is that?. Someone else could remind us Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, enthroned in heaven. What higher honor could there be? One is a fact of history, the other requires faith to believe that which we cannot see or know for certain.
November 24, 1982One man sows . . . What did Jesus mean? Was he referring to John the Baptist and all the others who went before him? The many who have worked hard and thought no one noticed! When you reap what others planted, you're not reaping your own harvest. That reduces the attitudes of self-sufficiency and destructive pride. This reminds me of Hebrews 12:1 -- " . . . we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses . . ."
November 26, 1982Each reaper benefits from the labors of previous people. Each individual leaving behind a blessing for others.
There's no question of fairness; one does the work of planting, another enjoys the harvest. The fruits don't necessarily belong to the one who worked for them. They belong to the owner of the field. Why would life be so short that the one who planted wasn't around to harvest?
Again the element of surprise, things didn't happen as planned or expected. Life is not predictable. The harvest was ready four months early!--way ahead of schedule. It would have gone unnoticed had Jesus not pointed it out. Yet a reaper was already taking in some of the harvest and getting paid/rewarded. And now the one who planted would not get to reap the harvest; instead someone else would. Who? Why? How did it all happen this way? The sower and reaper will be glad together--that's comforting.
The rest of the passage sounds stressful to me. Full of uncertainties and unwanted situations requiring a different response than planned. Seemingly unfair. You can't anticipate and carry out your plans in an orderly manner. No, you wake up one morning and bang--life is not where you left it the night before. Time has gleefully picked it up and is playing havoc. The harvest is ready, go do it; disregard your pre-ordered plans.
This all sounds very much like Jesus. And the essential elements of hope and rejoicing, it's all there. There will be joy--come follow me into a field that has ripened "during the night." Don't ask, "Who's responsibility is this field?" and "Where is the man who planted it?" Just follow me. I promise you will all be glad together, both sower and reaper.
Well, hello, it's only stressful if I think life is all about me. I need to get the sleep out of my eyes. It's not about my little life! My puny concerns and plans for the day! This is about "living food". This is Jesus, inviting me to join the planters and the reapers in our Father's great field of promise. This is about investing in the future and harvesting a crop for eternal life.