My morning quiet times have shifted from the book of Daniel to the Gospel of John. This morning I was in John four; a familiar chapter to most of us. There John tells us about the Samaritan woman at the well. But today, I was the end of the story that caught my attention.
After Jesus spoke with the woman, she headed back to town while the disciples returned from buying food in the same town. John records that they were surprised to see that Jesus was talking to a woman – a cultural taboo. And they “ignored” the taboo by trying to get Jesus to eat some lunch. We know that part of the story pretty well.
As Jesus spoke about what had happened, the second portion of verse 35 records Him as saying, “Behold, I tell you, raise your eyes and observe the fields, that they are white for harvest” (NASB). That part about the harvest being white might sound familiar to you as well. But did you catch the command Jesus gave his disciples?
The English terms “raise” and “observe” are both written in the aorist active imperative mode. In other words, Jesus was commanding his disciples to raise and observe because there was a harvest right in front of them that they didn’t seem to be aware of.
As I thought on this passage, and especially what Jesus was saying in the moment, I pictured Him pointing back toward the town. The woman went back and told the men what had happened, and they were now on the way back to Jacob’s well to see for themselves who this man might be. The woman raised the question whether He might, in fact, be the Messiah.
I thought deeply about how well I observe the potential harvest that is right in front of me. More so, I thought about how Jesus gave a two-fold command. The first requirement was to “raise your eyes.” I take that as purposefully, actively, intentionally look to see what’s going on around me. How can I observe something if I don’t “raise my eyes”?
It’s pretty easy to think about how often I (and perhaps you as well) have my eyes shifted downward looking at a glass screen (a.k.a., my cellphone), and completely unaware of what’s headed right toward me.
Case in point, I was at the grocery store this weekend in College Station. I happened to notice a 20-something fellow three different times. At the yogurt aisle, we actually made eye contact and he smiled at me. I kept looking for the sugar-free yogurt – pretty much obvious to him. It was several minutes later that I realized that he was wearing a cross necklace and I had on a Christian t-shirt. We were most likely brothers in Christ. But when I realized that I had an opportunity to connect with another believer, I never saw him again in the store. My loss.
Verse 38 of John 4 says, “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have come into their labor.” As I reflected not only on my quiet time passage but also on my grocery store encounter, I realized that I lost an opportunity to reap where someone else had already labored.
How about you? Where are your eyes focused? What are you observing? How might you fulfill Christ’s commandment to “raise your eyes and observe the fields”?
I, for one, want to do that differently going forward.
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