on John 4 :35
There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? - In Palestine, the harvest did not begin till after the passover, which was fixed on the 14th of the month Nisan, which answers to our March, and sometimes extends into April. The barley harvest was the first; after that the wheat; and both were finished by Pentecost. For, in the feast of Pentecost, the first fruits of all the harvest were carried to the temple, and waved before the Lord. See Leviticus 23:11. The four months, of which our Lord speaks here, must be computed, according to M. Toynard, from Shebat, which was the eleventh month of the sacred year, and which commenced that year on the 13th of January: from that, till the beginning of the wheat harvest, which began about a month after the passover, there were exactly four months. The passover was that year on the 15th of Nisan, or March 28; and Pentecost took place on the 17th of May. We may therefore suppose that it was about the 13th of January, or beginning of the month Shebat, that John the Baptist was cast into prison, and that Christ retired into Galilee. The fixing of this epoch is of considerable importance. See Calmet's Com. on this place.
The following method of dividing the seasons among the Jews is thus stated in Bava Metsia, fol. 106. "Half Tisri, all Marheshvan, and half Cisleu, is זרע zera. Seed-Time. Half Cisleu, whole Tebeth, and half Shebat, is חורף choreph, Winter. Half Shebat, whole Adar, and half Nisan, is קור kor, the Winter Solstice. Half Nisan, all Ijar, and half Sivan, is קציר katsir, Harvest. Half Sivan, all Tammuz, and half Ab, is קייץ kyits, Summer. Half Ab, all Elul, and half Tisri, is חום chum, the great Heat." The Jews sowed wheat and spelt in Tisri and Marheshvan; and barley in Shebat and Adar. Now let us reckon τετραμηνον, the four months, backwards, from the beginning of the barley harvest, or the middle of the month Nisan, and we shall go back to the middle of the month Cisleu, which will fall in with the beginning of our December, whence it will be easy to conjecture what feast that was, mentioned John 5:1, viz. the passover. See Lightfoot; and see the note on John 5:1.
After all that learned men have said on this passage, it does not appear that our Lord meant any thing by it more than an illustration of his present subject. Though there were ordinarily four months from seed-time to harvest, and that a man, after he had sowed his seed, must wait patiently till the regular and natural harvest came, yet it was not the case now: the seed of life which he had sown but a few hours ago had already brought forth much fruit; therefore he says, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, over which it is likely the Samaritans were then coming in troops, guided by the woman who had already received the light of the Gospel of peace.
The fields - are white already to harvest - Multitudes of Samaritans are coming to believe on me, and to be saved unto eternal life. Probably they had a kind of white raiment.
on John 4 :35
Say not ye - This seems to have been a proverb. Ye say - that is, men say.
Four months and ... - The common time from sowing the seed to the harvest, in Judea, was about "four months." The meaning of this passage may be thus expressed: "The husbandman, when he sows his seed, is compelled to wait a considerable period before it produces a crop. He is encouraged in sowing it; he expects fruit; his labor is lightened by that expectation; but it is not "immediate" - it is remote. But it is not so with my preaching. The seed has already sprung up. Scarce was it sown before it produced an abundant harvest. The gospel was just preached to a woman, and see how many of the Samaritans come to hear it also. There is therefore more encouragement to labor in this field than the farmer has to sow his grain."
Lift up your eyes - See the Samaritans coming to hear the gospel.
They are white - Grain, when ripe, turns from a green to a yellow or light color, indicating that it is time to reap it. So here were indications that the gospel was effectual, and that the harvest was to be gathered in. Hence, we may learn:
1. that there is as much encouragement to attempt to save souls as the farmer has to raise a crop.
2. that the gospel is fitted to make an immediate impression on the minds of men. We are to expect that it will. We are not to wait to some future period, as if we could not expect immediate results. This wicked and ignorant people - little likely, apparently, to be affected - turned to God, heard the voice of the Saviour, and came in multitudes to him.
3. We are to expect revivals of religion. Here was one instance of it under the Saviour's own preaching. Multitudes were excited, moved, and came to learn the way of life.
4. We know not how much good may be done by conversation with even a single individual. This conversation with a woman resulted in a deep interest felt throughout the city, and in the conversion of many of them to God. So, a single individual may often be the means, in the hand of God, of leading many to the cross of Jesus.
5. What evils may follow from neglecting to do our duty! How easily might Jesus have alleged, if he had been like many of his professed disciples, that he was weary, that he was hungry, that it was esteemed improper to converse with a woman alone, that she was an abandoned character, and there could be little hope of doing her good! How many consciences of ministers and Christians would have been satisfied with reasoning like this? Yet Jesus, in spite of his fatigue and thirst, and all the difficulties of the case, seriously set about seeking the conversion of this woman. And behold what a glorious result! The city was moved, and a great harvest was found ready to be gathered in! "Let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not."
on John 4 :35
4:35 The fields are white already - As if he had said, The spiritual harvest is ripe already. The Samaritans, ripe for the Gospel, covered the ground round about them.