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34Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

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34. My meat is, &c.—"A Servant here to fulfil a prescribed work, to do and to finish, that is 'meat' to Me; and of this, while you were away, I have had My fill." And of what does He speak thus? Of the condescension, pity, patience, wisdom He had been laying out upon one soul—a very humble woman, and in some respects repulsive too! But He had gained her, and through her was going to gain more, and lay perhaps the foundations of a great work in the country of Samaria; and this filled His whole soul and raised Him above the sense of natural hunger (Mt 4:4).

35. yet four months, and then harvest—that is, "In current speech, ye say thus at this season; but lift up your eyes and look upon those fields in the light of another husbandry, for lo! in that sense, they are even now white to harvest, ready for the sickle." The simple beauty of this language is only surpassed by the glow of holy emotion in the Redeemer's own soul which it expresses. It refers to the ripeness of these Sycharites for accession to Him, and the joy of this great Lord of the reapers over the anticipated ingathering. Oh, could we but so, "lift up our eyes and look" upon many fields abroad and at home, which to dull sense appear unpromising, as He beheld those of Samaria, what movements, as yet scarce in embryo, and accessions to Christ, as yet seemingly far distant, might we not discern as quite near at hand, and thus, amidst difficulties and discouragements too much for nature to sustain, be cheered—as our Lord Himself was in circumstances far more overwhelming—with "songs in the night!"

36. he that reapeth, &c.—As our Lord could not mean that the reaper only, and not the sower, received "wages," in the sense of personal reward for his work, the "wages" here can be no other than the joy of having such a harvest to gather in—the joy of "gathering fruit unto life eternal."

rejoice together—The blessed issue of the whole ingathering is the interest alike of the sower as of the reaper; it is no more the fruit of the last operation than of the first; and just as there can be no reaping without previous sowing, so have those servants of Christ, to whom is assigned the pleasant task of merely reaping the spiritual harvest, no work to do, and no joy to taste, that has not been prepared to their hand by the toilsome and often thankless work of their predecessors in the field. The joy, therefore, of the great harvest festivity will be the common joy of all who have taken any part in the work from the first operation to the last. (See De 16:11, 14; Ps 126:6; Isa 9:3). What encouragement is here for those "fishers of men" who "have toiled all the night" of their official life, and, to human appearance, "have taken nothing!"

38. I sent you, &c.—The I is emphatic—I, the Lord of the whole harvest: "sent you," points to their past appointment to the apostleship, though it has reference only to their future discharge of it, for they had nothing to do with the present ingathering of the Sycharites.

ye bestowed no labour—meaning that much of their future success would arise from the preparation already made for them. (See on Joh 4:42).

others laboured—Referring to the Old Testament laborers, the Baptist, and by implication Himself, though He studiously keeps this in the background, that the line of distinction between Himself and all His servants might not be lost sight of. "Christ represents Himself as the Husbandman [rather the Lord of the laborers], who has the direction both of the sowing and of the harvest, who commissions all the agents—those of the Old Testament as well as of the New—and therefore does not stand on a level with either the sowers or the reapers" [Olshausen].