February 8 I Thursday
“Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until the harvest?’ I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” —John 4:35
Opportunities are plentiful to join God in reaching people for Christ, but sadly, many of us talk ourselves out of pursuing them and totally miss the harvest. This is why Jesus rebuked His disciples when they were surprised to see Him speaking to a woman, much less a Samaritan woman, retrieving water from a well. The Samaritans were originally Israelites who had intermarried with the Assyrians after being conquered by them 700 years earlier. The Jews hated the mixed blood of the Samaritans and rejected them for abandoning their heritage as the chosen people of God.
The disciples paid no attention to this woman collecting water alone in the heat of the day. It was normal practice to retrieve water in the morning or evening when it was cooler, and usually with other women. This was an indication that this Samaritan woman had been ostracised by her community and wanted to avoid all the stares and gossip, but the disciples missed it.
Jesus knew she had been married five times and was currently living with a man she was not married to. As evidenced in her failed marriages, she was obviously thirsting for fulfillment that had eluded her all these years. Jesus did not condemn her, but introduced Himself as the water that would never leave her thirsting again. His rebuke was for His disciples who had avoided her and did not see she was ripe for the harvest. They had missed a perfect opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus, perhaps because of their ethnic and religious prejudices.
Praying generally for the salvation of unbelievers is important, but how often do we pray for clear opportunities to share the Gospel with a specific individual? Many of us feel apprehensive and unequipped, thinking we lack the confidence and biblical knowledge to tell others about Jesus. When opportunities like this arise, we are to place our confidence in Jesus who promises to give us words that bring comfort and life. We need to tread gently, not dogmatically, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead.
Keeping in step with Jesus means we pay attention to who is around us: the lonely old man sitting on the bus beside us, the late-night call from a friend or a neighbour who has lost a loved one. The harvest is plentiful, but we must not let our excuses be plentiful. Jesus is greater than our apprehensions, and there is an entire world of people searching for truth and meaning. As Christians, we are to be the light that shines in a darkened world and we have the answer that will change lives completely if we act on the opportunities Christ sets before us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me opportunities to share You with others today, and thank You that You will provide me the courage to act and words to say when those opportunities arrive. Thank You, God.