I live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s farm country. My back yard is adjacent to a corn field, so just a few weeks ago we watched as harvesters brought in the corn at night. Other years we’ve watched the combines mowing down the fields and spraying a golden stream of kernels into trailers. Harvest is a normal part of the rhythm of life here.
Just a few minutes down the road, however, is the City of Lancaster. Lancaster City is a typical Eastern USA city with many narrow streets and row homes. It was not designed for cars, but over the years, the major streets have been turned into one-way thoroughfares and numerous parking garages have been built. Still nearly all streets are lined with cars on both sides. What you wouldn’t expect to see is a harvester or a combine driving down any of Lancaster’s streets.
But as we’ll see in our continuing study of John 4, Jesus has an unlikely harvest in an unlikely place.
This week and last week, we have been following the story of Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well. In the previous post, we learned about the conversation Jesus had with his disciples after the Samaritan woman went back into town. Just then, the Samaritan woman shows up, and now she has a posse of townspeople with her. Are they looking for trouble? Are they thinking they will confront the group of 13 Jews who had ventured into their land? Look at John 4, verses 39-42:
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
What Jesus has just talked about with his disciples now plays out right in front of them. There is a harvest for the Kingdom experience of eternal life now. The people in that Samaritan town believe in the savior of the world. The wild thing is that this occurs in what the disciples would have considered the most unlikely place. In Samaria. Enemies of the Jews now become sons and daughters of the king. Brothers and sisters. This is a story of a breaking down of a wall of cultural, ethnic and gender separation. In the kingdom of God, all are equal. Jesus took the time to be sure his disciples could not only hear about this, but observe it and participate in it first hand.
The result? Many Samaritans believed. Jesus stayed there two days and many more believed. Jesus saw the kingdom moment and invested in it. He was not only harvesting for the Kingdom, he was also teaching his disciples to see the harvest fields that others did not see. Those harvest fields might be in a different location than home, might be in a different culture, a different ethnicity. They might be in the unlikeliest of places.
What will you do to open your heart, mind and eyes to the unlikely places around you?