11 May 2014

posted 8 May 2014, 19:21 by C S Paul

11 May 2014

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

2nd. Sunday after New Sunday (3rd. Sunday after Easter)

Gospel Reading for this Sunday - John 4: 31 - 38
New King James Version (NKJV)

31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.

32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?

34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.

38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

The Fields Ripe for Harvest

Jesus at last sees a harvest. This is clear now from his experience with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. From her testimony gather many believers, and they are on their way to see him. In the passage following the one quoted above, we learn that many Samaritans believe, not just because of the woman's testimony but because they hear him preach and teach, and they believe for themselves.

Jesus begins to instruct his disciples in the way of his work, and what sustains him. "I have food to eat that you do not know about." His food is to do the will of the one who sent him and to complete his work. Jesus is working for a goal, for a harvest, and the work itself sustains him, gives him spirit and energy, and propels him forward. Jesus then teaches his disciples that they must do the same work, although they will reap what they do not sow. So, we have an allusion here in the readings to the parable quoted in the section from Mark yesterday, of the sower whose seed scatters everywhere, but takes root and gives yield only in the good and deep soil. Jesus is already marking to his disciples the ripeness of the field, the reaping that is happening even as the sower continues to sow. In the Samaritan believers, the reaping is already happening so that reaper and sower rejoice together.

The passage continues:

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony, 'He told me everything I have ever done.' So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, 'It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Saviour of the world.'

Jesus' harvest among the Samaritans is their faith and understanding of his identity, and this he calls the fruit for eternal life, the fields ripe for harvesting. These outsiders shall be among the first fruits of the harvest, once again teaching us that a sincere heart and sincere faith are the things which qualify us for this harvest and this eternal life. As I think about this scene and these early believers, I wonder how it applies to us today. Do we reap? What do we reap, for whom the word was sown long ago, for whom these stories are now thousands of years old? I also ponder on the allusions to harvest which tell us not simply about faith, but harken to the idea of judgment and Jesus' messianic mission, and give us echoes of the apocalyptic understanding of what is transpiring and what is underway.

In these early believers, an important pattern is laid down, the rules of the past are broken, and expectations shattered. These outsiders are not the ones to whom the earlier laborers - the prophets - were sent. The teacher breaks apart our assumptions and understanding to reveal the new. What new do I await and expect now? Do my eyes need to be opened to something new today?



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