“You don’t know what you’re missing!” my grandpa implored, in one last ditch effort to get me to taste the carrot he had just pulled up from the ground.
He had lured me out to the far corner of his vegetable garden with the promise of ‘the best darn carrot anybody will ever eat’. Brushing off the larger clumps of dirt, he held it out to me, but I was sure that if Grandma were still with us she would have washed it first, and I told him so.
“Women,” he muttered under his breath indignantly.
It wasn’t my refusal to eat dirt that bothered Grandpa though. It was that I’d missed sharing in the moment with him, that moment of triumph when he dug his tanned, leathery hands into the dirt and pulled out the fruit of all his labors – fruit that, really, I wouldn’t fully appreciate until I worked to grow vegetables in my own garden.
“My food,” Jesus said to His disciples gathered around the well in Samaria, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) I imagine it must have been a real moment of triumph for Jesus when the woman he had talked with rushed back to him with others she had brought from her town. They urged Jesus to stay with them, and “because of his words many more became believers”. (4:41)
Jesus called it harvesting the “crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together”. (4:36) It was a glorious moment shared by Jesus, His Father, and His followers.
“I sent you to reap what you have not worked for,” Jesus said to His disciples. “Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” (4:38)
My Bible note suggests Jesus may have been talking about the hard work of John the Baptist and his followers, or of the prophets and other godly people of Old Testament times.
Is anyone else guilty of skimming Hebrews 11 with its long historical rundown of everyone and their faith? The Epistle writer himself doesn’t even “have time” (11:32) to tell us about every last hero of the Bible, except that they “…shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword…” (11:33-4) Others did not escape and were martyred for their faith. They died for us really, so that we might be harvested.
“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised”. (11:39) They only saw it and welcomed it “from a distance”. (11:13)
Though they worked hard sowing, by faith in God’s promise, we sow – and now also reap – by faith in the fulfillment of that promise, in Jesus Christ.
“God had planned something better for us,” the author of Hebrews wrote, “so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (11:40)
What an amazing thing, for which we give glory to God, that we are “surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses” (12:1), all of us at work in the Kingdom together, sharing in the moment with our Lord.