35 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. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
You have to have some sympathy for Jesus’ disciples. Just in this event with the woman at the well he rocks their world by having a conversation with her. We know from other accounts of the life of Jesus that James and John wanted to call the wrath of God down on the Samaritans and here is Jesus not only talking to a Samaritan woman but being respectful. They are so dumbfounded and confused that they don’t even ask him about it. They are not sure what to say.
Jesus speaks and seems to answer the questions they must have had but his answer is incredibly cryptic and probably caused them to ask more questions. He speaks of the fields being ready for harvest and of building on the work that others have done. What he is talking about is that the Samaritans are ripe for hearing the Gospel and the disciples need to understand that they are called to reach everyone, including the Samaritans, even if they don’t particularly like the Samaritans.
Jesus is also pointing out that the work of reaching people with the Gospel is a group effort. People have already been doing ministry among the Samaritans to make them ready for the message. We don’t know who those people were but it is obvious from the response of the woman and the rest of the village that they are ready to hear about the Messiah.
This continues to be true even today. People all around you are ready to hear about Jesus. There have been other people in their lives who have prepared the ground and tended the garden of their hearts. They are ready. The question is, how ready are you to let people know about the faith you have in Jesus and the difference he can make in their life? How willing are you to engage in conversations like Jesus did with the woman? That is how we are going to reach people and do what Jesus called us to do, by being willing to be with them, come along side them, befriend them, engage them.