There is just something revitalizing about the word harvest. It’s a time of new beginnings. For the farmer, it has always marked an end to the hardships of sewing a generous crop. Days and months are spent plowing fields. If the farmer is lucky, the field will be very fertal.
Though there have been instances of infertal soil. The farmer pours all of his life into tending to his field in anticipation of the coming harvest. The crop will no doubt endure trials of harsh weather threatening to spoil what was growing.
Weeds and tare will grow along side good wheat in hopes of tarnishing the crop. But the farmer never gives up. He never has the mindset that his crop will never make it. His eyes are supremely focused on that coming day. The farmer’s life is about one thing and one thing only. He could care less about the trifles of this world. His heart is in reaping a successful harvest.
When Jesus came and saved me three years ago, I immediately felt a hunger to grow in my knowledge of Christ. And one of the most intriguing imagery used by Christ was when he spoke of the harvest. Jesus spoke in terms of a harvest on more than one occasion in the new testament. One of my favorite parables is in Matthew 13:24-30. It is the parable of the wheat and the tare.
“Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’
He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’
Such a clear story alluding to the Christian life. Jesus couldn’t have put it any clearer. There are wheat, and there tare or weeds. They grow together, side by side. Examining a stalk of wheat and a tare, you would quickly see that the only way to tell them apart is to open the heads of each stalk. The tares would be empty, while the wheat would be full of seed. In the same manner, there are children of God, and there are those who will deny Him. Although people may look similar on the outside, it’s what inhabits their bodies that makes the difference. And on that day of harvest, the unrepentant will be cast away into Hades just as the stalks of tare found their final resting place in the fire.
Jesus went on to use the allegory of the harvest when giving his disciples their most important marching orders on the purpose for their lives prior to his crucifixion. So many self professing christians will claim to be followers yet have more of a laxidasical approach to preaching the gospel and reaching the lost. We live as though time is on our side, and if not today, there will be another sunrise in which we may plant the seed of salvation. But that is contrary to what Jesus said about the harvest.
“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!” John 4:35.
There is to be an urgency in the life of a believer. It is a missional mindset that should be predominant over anything in our lives. I dare say it should be all-consuming. The great theologian Leonard Ravenhill went so far as to say that a true Christian should have anguish in his heart over people he may see daily that are void of salvation. If we are not living our lives on mission and for Christs harvest, then we are no better than the wicked tare that sprout disguised as wheat. We are not to think Christ’s return may be far off and that we have time a plenty to warn unbelievers of his coming wrath. As Jesus tells in the verse above, the harvest is very ripe, meaning he could come at any moment.
Jesus mentions the harvest yet again in the verse that served as the name for our ministry in Panama as well as the name of this blog. This was said to his disciples in the beginnings of his earthly ministry.
“Then He said to His disciples,“The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Matthew 10:37-38.
It doesn’t take a seminary graduate to realize that the harvest Jesus keeps referring to is mankind. We are Christs creation. And on that day, we will be ripe for harvest. For mankind is plentiful, just as any harvest. But the laborers, the ones that are committed to seeing that the harvest be fruitful, they are few. Therefore as believers, we are to spend much time in prayer. Not for God to bless us with health, wealth, and the deepest materialistic desires of our hearts. Prayers such as this would be the mark of a tare. But for Christ to call others unto himself for his great glory. That they might be raised up, called, and justified in living a life of proclaiming his great name to all nations.
These laborers the Jesus spoke of in Matthew 10 are true committed followers of the Lord. Towards the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus makes their calling clear. This account that has become known as the great commission has become the mantra for my life. It defines who I am as a person. And it clearly sheds light on how the life of a believer in Christ is to live their life. It is in obedience to these final orders recorded in Matthew 28 that we as christians can distinguish between the wheat and the tare. Between those who proclaim to follow Christ and those who are truly his adopted sons.
“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” Matthew 28:16-20.
The blueprint for their lives had been laid out. They no longer lived for themselves. They had been called to a greater purpose. As have you. As followers of Christ, we are all called disciples. And if our lives do not show the same level of committment as those who walked beside him within the pages of scripture, chances are we are deceiving ourselves. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you have been called into the harvest. Why would Jesus use the comparison to a harvest when relating to the most serious of matter. Each time Jesus talks about a harvest, he is alluding to ones spiritual salvation. And when Jesus comes back for his bride, that will be the final harvest he spoke of so plainly.
For the farmer, the end of a fruitful harvest season is a time of celebration and feasting with all those who are family. The hard work of reaping and toiling in the land is finished. Still don’t see the correlation between the harvest and following Christ? Isnt it ironic that just as a huge feast marks the end of a long harvest, so scripture tells us the reaping of God ‘s harvest will be no different.
“Then the angel said to me,“Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:9.
How does your life look right now? Is it defined by the American Dream of building a better you? Or is more comparable to one anticipating a coming harvest? Are you constantly planting seeds in the hearts of unbelievers and persistent in making sure they grow through intentional discipleship? Is your life marked by the example of a farmer, sacrificing his own life for the good of the crop? Or have you become enslaved to complacency?
It is my prayer that God use the writings of this blog as a tool to raise up laborers willing to go boldly into the harvest with their lives. Just as the disciples, in Christ, your life is no longer your own. But in this bondage to Him, we find real purpose. Pray for the Lord of the harvest to raise up new disciples. Pray that our children would one day become missionaries who carry the banner of Christ to an unreached nation. Jesus said it best, the christian life is a harvest. And the privilege is ours carrying the seed of his great name to soils that are in need of a living water. The harvest is ripe indeed. Will you be willing to enter?