Sometime ago in the "Peanuts" comic strip as Lucy, Linus, and Charlie Brown looked up to the sky, Lucy said, "You can see lots of things in the clouds." Then turning to her companions, she asked "What do you see, Linus?"
"Well," he said, "those clouds up there look to me like the map of Belize, the little nation in the Caribbean." Glancing in a different direction, "That cloud looks a little like the profile of Thomas Eakins, the famous painter and sculptor. And that cloud formation over there gives me the impression of the stoning of Steven; why I can see Saul of Tarsus standing to one side."
"Uh huh," gasped Lucy, "That's good." "And, what do you see Charlie Brown?" Clearing his throat, "Oh, I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsie, but I've changed my mind."
You may smile at Charlie Brown. Yet in a more profound way, he reminds me of the first disciples of Christ who had a hard time stretching their faith to see the coming of the Kingdom of God and the spiritual harvest around them.
Their limited vision is brought out graphically in the John 4
. You recall the story. Jesus and His disciples are going through Samaria on their way to Galilee. Nearing the village of Sychar about noontime, the hungry disciples go into town to get some food, while Jesus sits down to rest on the curb of Jacob's well.
A woman comes out from the village to fill her water jar. Jesus asks her for a drink, and initiates a conversation which leads the women to the knowledge of salvation. Overjoyed with her discovery, she leaves her water pot, and rushes into town to share her secret.
Meanwhile, the disciples return from the city, and are amazed that their Lord would be speaking with such a person. On top of this, He missed His lunch. They urge Him to eat something. Whereupon Jesus says (John 4:34-38
): My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work. Do you not say, "There are still four months and then comes the harvest?'" Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: one sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors."
Reflecting upon these words of Christ, notice four aspects of the vision.
Observe, first, the opportunity for the harvest! "Look on the fields," Jesus tells us (John 4:35
). Do you see the people in the world needing to hear the Gospel? It appears that the spiritually dull disciples, with their earth-bound vision, saw only the recently planted fields of grain, still months away. If they were more discerning, however, they could see some men coming from the city who have heard the testimony of the redeemed woman. These awakened Samaritans want to know more about this Man who can change lives, and before He leaves them, they come to believe that Jesus is the Savior of the World. (John 4:39-42