I love movies! The Golden Age of Hollywood is so my era! I love the plots, costumes, music, the whole experience. The Great Movie Ride in Disney World’s Hollywood Studios makes me crazy with excitement! Although if I had to narrow down my enthusiasm to only one favorite thing about a movie, it would have to be the plot. There is nothing I love more than a great story, especially if it is true!
A movie plot will usually focus on one main story thread with a few smaller stories mixed in. I expect that they are written that way to be more reflective of real life. For example if I were to make a movie about my job, there would probably be some smaller story lines about my personal life, family members, coworkers, ect. While my job would be the main focus, there would also be some interesting bits of dialogue and circumstances from other angles and sources. In order to give a realistic view of my work life, you would have to incorporate the other details or else the story wouldn’t be revealed in truth and totality. Did you know that there is a story in John 4:1-42 that is written the exact same way with a main plot and a sub plot?I was familiar with the stories in these passages but I knew them by story, not scripture reference. Therefore, I had no idea that they happened at the same time. Pretty cool, huh?
John 4:1-31 tells of a Samaritan woman who was at the well with Jesus. I’m assuming we are all familiar with that part of the recount in John. Verse 28 tells us that after talking with Jesus, the woman ran back to her village to encourage them to come see this man whom she thought could be the Messiah. Now from here, we often hear that the people of the village return with her to see Jesus. However, the Samaritan woman leaves in verse 28 and does not return with the others until verse 39. What happens during the eleven verses in between the woman leaving and returning? Let’s find out!
The disciples had left Jesus to get food and returned toward the end of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman. (Vs. 27) Then the Samaritan woman leaves Jesus and the disciples to return to her village to tell her neighbors about Jesus. (Vs. 28-39)
Once John’s recount covers the woman’s actions, he goes back to tell us what happened with Jesus and the disciples while she was gone . I guess this part would be considered a subplot to the Samaritan woman’s story. However, I consider this part to be so rich and powerful that it stands alone.
The disciples had brought food for Jesus and they encouraged Him to eat. Jesus replied that He had food. His food was to do the will of His Father and to finish it.
Here’s where it gets good! Jesus asks His disciples about their philosophy of planting, waiting four months and then harvesting. He explains to them that the spiritual harvest is ready for reaping now. This is going to get a little detailed, but stay with me! Verse 35 says the fields are ripe for harvest, a harvest of souls for salvation. He goes on to say that the sower does his job and the reaper does his job. They both celebrate together about their work. Verse 37 sums this lesson up by stating,“ One sows and another reaps is true. I sent you to reap that which you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
Whoo that verse is a mouth full! Jesus is explaining that in the same way there is a sower and a reaper in the field, two individual people with separate job descriptions, there are sowers and reapers in the salvation field. Some sow seeds in the life of an unbeliever and some reap the harvest of the unbeliever by seeing them come to Christ.
Now what’s the difference? I don’t believe there is much of one as both jobs are vital . We should strive to witness (sow) into the life of anyone who is not a Christian. We tell them the beautiful narrative of John 3:16 and explain it in detail. That action is planting a spiritual seed. From there, the unbeliever may begin to contemplate what you have shared or even do some research on their own.
Right here is the key point: The next Christian that comes into this unbeliever’s life could be the reaper if he equally witnesses and opens up about his own life in Christ. But does this “next Christian” know that he could be a reaper? Of course not. Therefore, if he doesn’t follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting, he will miss the opportunity and blessing of leading someone to Christ. You never know what stage of acceptance of Christ that someone is in. For that reason, it is imperative to be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s direction regarding witnessing. You could be planting the first seeds or you could be the reaper of a white, ripe harvest like the disciples in verse 38.
Let’s be clear, Jesus is about the work of the kingdom and bringing in as many lost souls as are willing. If I receive that stirring to talk to someone but I don’t, God will send someone else in my place. It would break my heart to know that my Father couldn’t depend on me to be obedient so He had to get someone else. Others were willing to sow and reap in my life and I want to be equally faithful to sow and reap in others. What about you?
So while I have spent many years thinking that the story of the Samaritan woman was the main plot (and please don’t misunderstand, her story is incredible!) I’ve found that this short conversation between Jesus and His disciples opens the door for another main plot all its own.
Let me encourage you to sow some seeds this week, as it is our calling. Let me also say that living in Alabama, the cotton fields are ripe for harvest around here and so beautiful! Our farmers would never let that beauty and abundance go to waste. Likewise, we as Christians would never want the beauty of reaping a lost soul go to waste either.