True Sayings Series
The Time of Harvest, Part 1
The mere mention of harvest brings to mind all kinds of pleasant thoughts. With the mind's eye we see succulent fresh fruits. We can almost smell the delicate, appetizing aromas. We picture a great variety of our favorite vegetables.
The farmer, himself, will also think of the joy of the reward of his labors. He worked hard to plant and water his crop, and now it is time for him to be rewarded for his toil.
As Christians, our minds probably go to the Psalms where we are told, "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Turning the soil, and sowing the seed is work, and one labors only in hope. On the other hand, harvesting is also hard work. The big difference is that the rewards are immediate.
Jesus, speaking in parables, twice refers to himself as "the sower." Indeed he came as a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. But we are told that He, "for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame." Jesus is even now looking forward to the harvest, for which He has waited so long. James 5:7. And He is thinking, in the terms of John 10:16 and Eph. 4:13, of that time when all of His sheep shall be gathered into "one fold" and have "one shepherd," and that saying is fulfilled, "til we all come in the unity of the faith."
The wise man said, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." "A time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted." The time of the planting came and went, and the time of harvest is near, even at the door. Even as Jesus said, "The harvest is the end of the world."
The Word of God reached me when I was a boy of ten years of age. The seed of His word sprang up in my heart and I was wonderfully born of the Spirit of God.
As a zealous believer, I was an avid student of the Holy Scriptures. By the time I reached my twenties, I had read the Bible several times. I not only read, but studied and pondered its meaning.
I found that even some things which, on the surface, seemed to be obvious, really weren't. Jesus' parables, for instance, weren't told for the purpose of teaching us moral stories. There are some moral lessons which may be learned from some of them, but that was not His primary point.
A few years ago, I listened as a very prominent and influential minister read Matt. 13:10,11 over the radio. I marveled as he proceeded to explain that it meant that the parables were given so that even little children could understand. In effect that minister told us that Jesus meant exactly the opposite of what He said.
But let us consider the reason Jesus himself gave for speaking to the people in parables. "The disciples came and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." Matt. 13:10-13.
It is interesting that Jesus made this statement between telling the parable of "The Sower" and the parable of "The Tares." Apparently these two parables aren't as obvious as we might want to think.
This parable of the Sower reveals the activity which we call Missionary work. However, we confuse our understanding when we use the wrong terms to describe our soul saving efforts: terms such as "Bringing in the sheaves" and "A harvest of souls." Sheaves and harvest are used by God, in his word, in reference to a gathering of people who are already alive in Christ.
Jesus was referring to three categories of believers when He said, "Some brought forth thirty fold, some sixty fold, and some an hundred fold." All three of these fruitful grains fell on good ground, some were just more productive than others. This one-hundred-fold wheat is the "principal wheat" referred to in Isa. 28:25.
Wherefore, we know that God sees different Christians differently. So much so, that, in the resurrection, they will have different rewards and somewhat different bodies, as Paul explained in 1 Cor. 15:35-42.
Here are his words, "It may chance of wheat or some other grain." "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead."
Perhaps Paul was thinking of the prophecy in Dan. 12:2,3. "Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever." Some Christians will doubtless have much greater rewards than others, their respective glories being comparable to the difference between the sun and the stars.
By C. Eldon McNabb
(Note: This sermon is from the True Sayings Series. These sermons are available in booklet form, in their entirety, upon request. Please refer to the contact information.)