Lift Up Your Eyes!

The Lord's fields are white for the harvest all around you every day.

Little Things (6)

And at this 
point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman…Jesus said to them, “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!” John 4.27, 34, 35

Missed opportunities
The disciples of Jesus were Jewish men of their day. And even though many of them had been recruited from the region of the Sea of Galilee and would thus have had frequent interactions with Gentiles, they, like all Jews, would have shunned contact with Samaritans (Jn. 4.9). The Samaritans were half-breeds, leftovers from the intermarriage of rebellious Israel and Assyrian pagans. They were no people at all, or, at best, they were little people, with nothing to offer the Jews, and not the kind of people one would associate with the promises or Kingdom of God.

So it must have felt a little creepy to those Galilean Jews when Jesus led them into Samaria rather than along the familiar route to Galilee, through Decapolis on the east side of the Jordan. Why was He taking them this way? And why would He have them go into a Samaritan city to buy Samaritan food, while He took His ease at an ancient well?

We can imagine their shopping trip was hurried and devoid of small talk with the despised Samaritans.

Then, to top it all off, upon returning they find Him talking with a Samaritan woman, who was herself amazed that a Jewish man – a prophet, no less – would initiate a conversation with her. The disciples marveled at what they must have regarded as Jesus’ puzzling, if not improper, behavior. 

But unlike His disciples, Jesus never missed an opportunity to offer someone the water of life. The disciples could not see past their prejudice and priorities to the plentiful harvest bustling all about them in that Samaritan marketplace. But Jesus knew there are no little people, and nothing more important than offering all people a drink from the well of eternal life.

White unto the harvest
Jesus knew what the disciples were thinking, and He used their conversation about food and drink to teach them an important lesson about missed opportunities. The disciples regarded the Samaritans as little people, or perhaps even not real people at all. Jesus saw them as a fertile field and a potentially abundant harvest of souls for God.

Jesus wasn’t hungry for the food the disciples offered Him, because He had become sated with the food God provided Him with that Samaritan woman (v. 34). While the disciples missed an opportunity to spread the Word of life, Jesus made the most of His time with the woman at the well. And now He wanted His disciples to see what they had missed.

We can imagine the road and fields sloping down toward that ancient well were filled with people running out from the village to see this Man Who had told a woman of ill repute everything she’d ever done. Their linen garments would have reflected the mid-day sun, and their hurried movements doubtless resembled the waving stalks of wheat, ready for harvesting.

Did Jesus gesture toward those nobodies, those little people, as He commanded His disciples to lift up their eyes and see the harvest? And does His Spirit, dwelling in each of us who believes in Jesus, do the same in us day by day? Are we so busy with our projects, our agendas, or our interests and needs that the people we see each day, who populate our Personal Mission Field, are just too small for us to notice? Is it not possible that in some of these “little people” God will have been working to prepare a place for the sowing of His Word? Or even for the harvesting of fruit?

Sowing and harvesting
Why do we miss so many opportunities to sow the good mustard seeds of the Kingdom into the Lord’s field? Is it because we consider the people around us not sufficiently significant? Do we avoid them because we fear what they might think? Have they offended us in some way? Do they strike us as not likely to be interested in spiritual matters?

Are they just of too little importance for us to offer them a drink of living water?

We are always on call as we enter our Personal Mission Field. We must make sure that our sack of mustard seeds is full and that we are ready to make the most of our time for Christ and His Kingdom. Some of the people we see each day will have had a background in church, or a friend in some other of their life settings who has talked with them about Jesus. Some of the people we will engage in conversations may listen politely but not believe. But we may sow a seed that others will cultivate or harvest.

There are no little people in the world, only people in all walks of life, all conditions of wellbeing, all occupations and social strata who are made in the image of God and need to be restored to the image of Jesus Christ. We must not walk past these people, in a hurry to get on with our lives without having to be troubled by their needs or concerns. As we pray for them daily, we will begin to see them not as little people but as potential followers of Christ and citizens of the Kingdom, people whom God our Father loves now, even though they may never think of Him (Matt. 5.44-48). We must train our minds and lift up our eyes to see the many opportunities the Lord gives us each day – both with those who have no faith and those who do – for sharing His grace and showing His love to the last, the least, and the lost.

In the little moments of your life, in all the little places and among the little people you go, by every little task or gesture or word, have your seed ready for sowing, looking to God to supply the living water that can cause that seed to spring up to eternal life.

Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown and you can win it;
If you go in Jesus’ Name.

For reflection
1.  What does it mean to be witnesses for Jesus Christ (Acts 1.8)? Is this something we do by words alone? Explain.

2.  Do you pray each day for the people in your Personal Mission Field? Do you think that, if you did, they might loom larger in your mind throughout the day? Or that the Lord might open doors of opportunity for you to sow good Kingdom seed into their lives?

3.  How can Christians help one another to be more consistent in lifting up their eyes to see what’s going on in the field of their lives?

Next steps – Conversation: Today, start as many conversations as you can with people in your Personal Mission Field, praying as you do that God would give you an opportunity to sow some seed of grace into their lives.

T. M. Moore

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This week’s study is part 1 of a 3-part series, The Small Stuff. Each part consists of seven lessons and is available as a free PDF download at the end of the study. In the tag for part 7, we’ll give you a link to download part 1, “Little Things.” Why not line up some friends to study through all three parts of this series?

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.

[1]Kittie L. Suffield, “Little is Much”

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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