36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
Christ now turned to another argument to show we should be diligent about winning people to Christ.
And he who reaps receives wages,
Those who reap souls have a reward in eternity.
and gathers fruit for eternal life,
Reapers will gather the crop of souls for eternal life (2 Co 2:15-16). Jesus does not think solely in terms of “wages” but also “fruit.”
that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
Both the one who sows and the one who reaps will be paid for their efforts.
The idea of “rejoice together” is that the sower and the reaper will share joy in the harvest. It is joy for everyone who puts effort into the harvest; there is joy in the collective effort. Cooperation is necessary in God’s work.
For in this the saying is true:
Verses 37 and 38 form another proverb. The following statement shows that the statement of verse 36 is real; it will demonstrate what it illustrates. The farmer looks forward to reaping.
‘One sows and another reaps.’
The sower and the reaper are not the same. The sowing is the telling of the message and the reaping is the belief of those who hear the message. Each complements the other. What one sows the other reaps. Both the sower and the reaper are necessary for the harvest. Neither is secondary to the other.
I sent you to reap
The “I” is emphatic. It is the Lord of the harvest who sends the disciples to do evangelism. The disciples were of Jewish descent but Jesus sent them to the Samaritans who were half Jew, half Gentile. He sent them to reach a culture other than their own.
that for which you have not labored;
Much of future success in evangelism will come from those who sow (Jn 4:42).
others have labored,
The “others” here are those who sowed seed to be harvested later. Those who sow do not see the immediate results of their labor.
and you have entered into their labors.”
The disciples can enter the harvest of the bringing of people to Christ. We need to remember that others have prepared the way for us to share Christ. We build on the work of those who have gone before us. There is an unbroken continuity between the sower and reaper. Witnessing is a team effort.
The harvesting of souls is an occasion for great joy.
There are different strokes for different folks. Some plant, others water (1 Co 3:6). Each worker in the harvest reaps what others sow. The one reaps what another sows and the one sows and the other reaps. Both sower and reaper can rejoice in this. It usually takes several people to win a person to Christ (Is 9:3; Lu 15:10, 32). Reaching people for Christ has its lasting consequences, eternal consequences.