‘Lord of the Harvest’
Background text: Matthew 9:35-38
Devotional text: John 4:35-38
It is the season of fall, the season of harvest. It is the season of leaves on the trees changing from green to brilliant colors of red, orange and yellow, as the temperatures dip at night and a new season unfolds.
Last week, I traveled with some friends along country roads to view the beautiful changing scenery and to arrive at an Amish farm where we bought a bushel of several types of apples, now waiting to be made into pies or applesauce or just plain eaten.
I love fall for its color, cooler weather and harvest.
As we traveled along, it got me thinking about “The Lord of the Harvest,” as mentioned in the gospel of Matthew 9:35-38. Here, Jesus spoke to his disciples, as they walked through the villages as Jesus performed healings and spoke in the synagogues about the good news of the kingdom.
When Jesus saw the crowds of people in their helplessness, he likened them to sheep without a shepherd. He turned to his disciples and said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
As I thought about the harvest being a time of gathering (reaping) the ripened fruit of the season, I also thought of the analogy used by Jesus to his disciples. As the harvest season may come only once (or up to three times) a year, as followers of Christ, we experience the harvest of believers continually.
Reading the New Testament, we find the scriptural meaning to the harvest of the Lord as being both God’s provision and blessing to us.
In 2 Corinthians 9:10, the Apostle Paul wrote: “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge your harvest of righteousness.”
Although Paul was using an agricultural analogy, his meaning goes to the heart of Christ’s followers. He was speaking to both them and us about the God-given opportunities to help others. Showing us that the more God’s call is answered by his people, the more blessings God gives to both receiver and giver.
As we read 1 Corinthians 15:58, Paul advises us that our labors for God “are never in vain.” This means that God always uses the seeds of belief we plant among peoples. He explains it this way in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7: some sow, some water, others reap, “but it is God at work bringing in the increase.”
God uses believers to plant the seeds of knowledge about Christ, but it is God himself who brings the light of Christ to those who would believe. God, in his grace, does not let us fail as we speak of him to others, because it is God who does the work of bringing new believers into his kingdom.
Speaking about being sowers of God’s word and tillers of God’s blessings to us, Galatians 6:7-8 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this will he also reap.”
It goes on to say that if a person is spreading (sowing) their own fleshly desires, they will reap corruption. However, if one sows goodness and kindness and righteousness as to the Spirit, that person will reap eternal life.
I find this famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson helpful: “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an action and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
The word sow is important here. The thoughts and actions do not refer to a one-time event, but to a constant attitude or action. This means that consistent actions will become habits, and those habits develop into your character as a person. Finally, your character leads to the kind of person you become.
As followers of Christ, we are told “not to worry in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9).
We are reminded that we sow in one season and reap in another. The harvest does not come immediately after the seed is planted; it comes when it is ready, in its time.
James 5:7-8 says, “Be patient for God is coming … The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it … You too, be patient, strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
All of these scriptures remind us to follow the ways of God and to reap the many blessings he gives to us in our lives.
I close with John 4:35-38: “Do you not say, four months and then the harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest! Even now the reaper draws his wages; even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so the sower and reaper may be glad together.
“Thus, the saying goes, ‘one sows and another reaps,’ is true. 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.”
In these verses, Jesus refers to Old Testament prophets and to John the Baptist, who helped to prepare the way for the Lord. The followers of Christ, as they talk about their Savior, reap the benefits as people come to believe.
This is the ongoing work of God in our lives, as we answer his nudgings and the opportunities he places before us. The joy felt comes from God’s blessings and by the rejoicing of the angels in heaven as new believers come into the kingdom.
The Lord of the Harvest provides for us in many ways: by bringing joy and blessings into our lives, by being a real and present help in times of trouble and by presenting us ways to rejoice with one another as God offers us opportunities to sow the seed of his word.