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Is John 4:35 the most misunderstood verse in the Bible?

Make your fields white for harvest. Photo: Cristian Malevic/Flckr

Make your fields white for harvest. Photo: Cristian Malevic/Flckr

It seems every year, pastors preach the obligatory message on evangelism. It is an annual event in most churches. Invariably they will turn to the Gospel of John and quote Jesus’s words:

“Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” (John 4:35 NASV)

The message is we need to share our faith, because the fields are white for harvest. The grain is ready to fall off the stem and we just need to be there to gather it in.

Of course, everyone knows it isn’t true. Sure a few people are getting saved now and then, but for the most part our communities are a hard place. Maybe the fields are white somewhere else, but they are not white where we live.

So was Jesus wrong?


But the point we miss is that Jesus made the fields white for a harvest and it is something we can do as well.

Jesus said these words after He encountered a woman at a well in Samaria (John 4:7-44). As they were talking, Jesus received a word of knowledge about the woman’s situation:

16 He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” 

When the woman said she had no husband, Jesus answered that she had lived with five men and that the one she was currently with was not her husband.

Jesus was very specific about this woman’s history. She was shocked by Jesus’s revelation and called Him a prophet.

When the the rest of the disciples showed up, they were surprised to find Jesus talking to  a woman, much less a Samaritan.

Having drawn her water and with Jesus now distracted by the disciples, the woman slipped away to her village and told everyone what had happened to her:

29 Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?”

Jesus’s word of knowledge had clearly impacted her. As the people poured out of the village to see Jesus, this is when Jesus told his disciples to lift up their eyes and look at the crowd rushing towards them.

Jesus was referring to these Samaritans when He said though the harvest was still four months away, it was now white for harvest.

With a word of knowledge the Samaritan field had ripened in a matter of minutes.

And this is the point everyone is missing. The fields are not white with harvest, we have to make them white for harvest by using the gifts of the Holy Spirit — the word of knowledge, the gift of healing, the gift of prophecy.

Recently Sid Roth, an American Messianic Jew, shared the amazing story of an evangelistic meeting he held in Tel Aviv, Israel.

He said there were about 1,000 people in attendance. Most were Jews and the best he could tell it was the largest Jewish crowd to hear an evangelistic message in Israel since Peter addressed crowds of Jews in the book of Acts.

Many of the Jews were actually Russian and Roth used a Russian interpreter to address those who could not understand English.

As the meeting started many of the people were distracted. They were talking among themselves and others were walking in and out of the auditorium.

Nobody was engaging with the message of the Gospel. Simply put the crowd was not “white for the harvest.”

But things changed as Roth started to share his testimony on the love of God and began to receive words of knowledge about sicknesses and problems people in the crowd were struggling with.

Suddenly all eyes were riveted on what was happening.

Roth prayed for healing, and despite the fact there was no laying on of hands, people began popping up in the crowd proclaiming they were healed.

In a dramatic few minutes, this field was spontaneously “white for the harvest.”

We need to start operating in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit if we want effective evangelism  (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

It is not just Sid Roth who has the gifts of the Holy Spirit, you do to and you need to start using them.

If you are sharing your faith with someone, pray that the Holy Spirit will give you a word of nnowledge. If a thought pops into your mind take a risk and share it.

Pray for the gift of wisdom. Pray for the gift of healing. Pray God will give you a gift of prophecy to share with people.

More importantly step out in faith and start using these gifts the Holy Spirit has given all believers.

Sure we will mistakes, but we will learn. They are vital for turning the crop and making fields white for harvest.


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