Say not you, There are yet four months, and then comes harvest? behold, I say to you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields…
(in conjunction with Matthew 9:37-38): — On the occasion mentioned by Matthew there were fields of ripe corn within sight (Luke 6:1, 12, 13). The words reported by St. John were spoken four months earlier when the fields were comparatively bare. The one, therefore, was a similitude, the other a contrast.
1. In Samaria, Jesus bade His disciples recognize fields white to harvest. The people were ready to bear if only the gospel were delivered unto them.
2. But there was a risk of letting the favourable opportunity slip for want of preachers. What can be more vexatious to a farmer than to see his crop spoil for lack of hands? So grievous was it to Christ to see the leaders of the ration indifferent or hostile to His heavenly message.
3. The fields of opportunity are constantly widening, but the difficulty is to get an adequate supply of labourers.
(1) Home fields are scrambled over, and while there are too many labourers in some corners, others are neglected.
(2) In foreign fields labourers are too far apart, and their strength overtaxed.
4. It is easy enough to multiply ecclesiastics, but workmen who need not to be ashamed have always been too few.. And field work needs labouring men. Time is precious, and reapers must not spare themselves.
5. Labourers are all the better for a training. In every kind of activity training tells. Much more so here, as shown by Christ's careful training of the twelve.
6. But the first requisite is that the labourers be sent by the Lord of the harvest.
7. The Church must pray for such labourers.
(1) Christ so prayed.
(2) Now that Christ has ascended, and is Lord of the Church, we must pray for His gift of labourers (Ephesians 4:11).
8. Why should we thus pray? The fields are His. He knows the value of the opportunity and the need of labourers; surely He will provide them of His own accord. But prayer is not enjoined to tell Christ what He does not know, or to persuade Him to do what He would otherwise neglect, but to bring His followers into harmony with His will.
(D. Fraser, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.