The Road Less Traveled
One of the great challenges of living the Christian life is to understand God's call and God's language…God's view of the world. Jesus spoke one time that there were two roads. One was broad, and it was easy to travel down; many people traveled that way. Then He said, "But the road I want you to go on is a narrow road. It's not as convenient. The way is more difficult, and not many people travel that way."
Really, that metaphor serves us well even as we come to our text today because the Lord does call on us to go down the road less traveled…the road that is really not even seen by the world. You can call it a worldview. There is a worldview that even many Christians adopt that is given to them by secular media, by television, and so forth. It's a view of the world that if you adopt that view, missions will make no sense at all. Evangelism has no place in it. It will be no part of your life.
In fact, to see how much secular culture shapes and molds you, just ask yourself how great your burden is for missions…how great your burden is for that lost coworker. How really great is your burden for that enemy of yours to be saved and find Christ? It will help you see whether you're going down the broad road or the road less traveled…whether you've adopted the world's view or the view Jesus wants us to have.
The only way to have a burden for evangelism…for lost souls…a burden for missions…is to be more influenced by Jesus than by the culture. To see the world the way Jesus sees it is to travel the road that's less traveled. That's the road I want you to find and to go down, and the one I want us to talk about.
Jesus is spending so much of His ministry hoping to get people to see the world differently. If you value things based on the world, then of course you'll go the broad way. But if you can begin to see there is an intrinsic value in that less-traveled road, then perhaps you'll choose to go that way.
Let me show you how Jesus has been trying to do this even in the studies we've had. Over in John, chapter 2…in the fifteenth verse of John 2…Jesus takes a whip of cords, and He drives the moneychangers out of the temple along with their oxen and sheep and has those who were selling doves to take them and to get them out of the way.
Of course, they're very upset about that in John, chapter 2. They wanted to know, "What sign do You give to show You have the authority to do this?" Notice John 2, verse 19, "Jesus answered and said to them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.'" Now Jesus says, "Look at this temple that's around you, where you're selling your pigeons and your doves and your sheep." He says, "You need to look at this differently. It's going to be destroyed. There is coming a day when there's going to be a new temple. I'm going to be that temple. You're going to come to Me as the temple and worship Me."
But because the moneychangers…because the Jews on that day…saw with the world's view, then they come up with the question that says, "You know, it took 46 years to build this temple, and You say You're going to build it in three days?" They're stuck with a narrow, fixed view of the physical world and cannot understand the road Jesus is trying to show them. That's what happens today. They do not see the world the way Jesus did. That's why a lot of people today don't get things like missions. They just don't get it. The reality is they live in such a narrow, small world.
In the very next chapter, in John, chapter 3, a man named Nicodemus comes into the scene. He comes to see Jesus at night. He wants to know, "What must I do to get into the kingdom of God?" Jesus blows his mind in John, chapter 3, and verse 3. He says, "Unless you're born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God." You have to think differently if you want to understand and follow the things of God. Nicodemus can't see that. He is on that broad path. He has a worldview. So he responds in verse 4 of John 3, and says, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?"
In other words, he is limited by the physical world, by the worldview that is around him. He can't understand at all what Jesus is talking about, and so too with so many people today. That's why evangelism and reaching out to your neighbor doesn't make sense to people today. That's why they shrug their shoulders at it. They say, "What's the big deal?" because they're judging things by the physical world, by the world's view, by that broad path. They just don't understand the world Jesus is trying to show them. The Jews there on the temple mount didn't understand it. Nicodemus didn't understand it.
Then I'll take you to the very next chapter…John, chapter 4…which is where we're going to find ourselves today to a Samaritan woman at a well. Jesus is there waiting for her, and she comes to Him. Jesus blows her mind by making a remarkable statement to her in John, chapter 4, in verse 10, and says, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."
He asks for a drink. She says, "Are you talking to me?" He says, "If you knew who was talking to you, you would ask Him, and He would give you living water." But guess what? Her mind is stuck in this physical world just like yours is…just like so many people's are.
So her response to Him is, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?" She is thinking physical water. She is thinking an earthen well. Jesus is trying to get her to see a world she cannot see with her physical senses. He is trying to get her to understand. He is trying to get Nicodemus to understand. He is trying to get the Jews at the temple to understand there is a world, there is a reality, out there that is beyond your normal senses. She doesn't understand it…at least not at first. She will actually come to understand it and become a witness for Him.
So it is that some today at first they don't get evangelism. They don't understand the burden to reach the lost. They don't get missions because they don't see the world the way Jesus does. They see it physically. They see a temple made of bricks and a birth that comes from blood and water and pain, and water that comes out of an earthen well. They see that physically.
What they don't see is a Man who is a temple, a birth by the Spirit, and water that satisfies forever because they're looking down the wrong path. I want all of us to understand that before the call of God on our life can make sense…before we will accept it…before we will understand its importance, we're going to have to see the path Jesus has for us. We're going to have to have the view of the world Christ has. That's what Jesus wants all of these examples to understand, and so too with our text today.
Go to John, chapter 4. He has spoken to the Samaritan woman. She has gone off into the town of Sychar. When we come to verse 31, in the meantime…in this interlude of time…the disciples return. You remember when Jesus first went to Jacob's well, He sent His disciples into Sychar to buy some lunch. So they all went there to get the lunch, and now they've all come back. When we get to verse 31, it says, "In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, 'Rabbi, eat.'" In other words, "It's past lunch time. You've been here a half hour out here in the sun. We have You some food. I know You're tired; it's been a long journey thus far. You need to eat."
Well, if you're looking through physical senses, that's true. But Jesus now wants to teach the disciples there is another world view. There is another path they've not considered. So Jesus responds in verse 32 and said to them, "'I have food to eat of which you do not know.' Therefore the disciples said to one another, 'Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?'"
Listen…they're still in the physical world, right? They're still thinking about food…nourishing a growling stomach…and water that satisfies a physical thirst. So Jesus says, "I have already eaten that I am full, brothers." They're saying, "Someone must have brought Him some food before we got back." But Jesus responds to that, and He says, "No, you've got to look at the world differently." So He says in verse 34, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work."
In other words, "My food…the food I'm talking about…is other worldly. It's going down that narrow road. It's a road less traveled. It's a satisfaction and nourishment the physical senses will not understand, but the spiritual realities understand." Jesus lived and breathed spiritual reality. In fact, I would dare say the spiritual realities are the main realities of the universe.
But we don't think in spiritual terms. We think in the more narrow, physical terms. So when we hear comments like, "My food is to do the will of God who sent Me," we don't make the connection. When we hear Him say, "I am full," we're thinking physical food because we don't see the world as Jesus sees it. Taking the road less traveled assumes a whole new way of looking at the world.
Well, we might ask the question…How can an energy-depriving activity like sitting by a well and witnessing to someone in the middle of the day…how can that energy-depriving activity be energy-giving food? Well, I think the answer is that when you join up to God's favorite enterprise (which is reaching the lost)…when you join up with God's favorite program…there is a special provision from the Lord.
There comes a time when you're doing God's work that the physical things become distant. They become transparent. You become interested in the things of God, and you become less interested in the things of man. You find yourself serving Him and being satisfied in that service. The things and the desires and the pleasures the world seeks are no longer as important to you. That is why you do with less. That's why you can live with less because you so savor the service and obedience to God that it satisfies you.
Now that may be a strange sound to some, to some who've been brought up in a world that's all about physical achievement and the paining of possessions and fame and notoriety. But my friends, when you travel down the road Jesus is offering that He wants you to travel down, you're going to find there is a level of superior satisfaction that comes from doing the will of God. That means you don't have to have all of the toys of the world to be richly joyful…to be richly satisfied.
So Jesus says very truthfully, "I have food that you know not of. I'm full, brothers, because I've been about doing the will of God. That's My goal in life is to do His will. When I do His will, it satisfies Me. There is a nourishment to My soul."
Sharing your faith is a way of nourishing your soul…nourishing your soul with God. That's the change in our travel path that God wants us to make this morning. He wants you to understand the reason some people get so excited when you don't is simply they're traveling down a different road, my friend. They're seeing the world differently, my friend.
Oh, when service is over, there are those who want to linger in the afterglow of God's worship. There will be those who are caught up in the busyness of life, be the first out the door, not caught in traffic, first in line, first home to unlock, and all of these kinds of things. But then there are those who view the world differently, who see a soul that's been saved or a God who has been worshiped as something that is satisfying. You're not longing for the next physical thing, but you're seeing the spiritual realities of life.
Jesus said, "You need to see the world differently." So He offers another illustration in verse 35. He says, "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'?" Boy, there is a lot in that little phrase right there. Jesus says, "You know about sowing and reaping. But you know, when you think of sowing and reaping in the physical world, you think about, you know, there is a four-month difference that I sow and no matter what, four months later…in about that time…there is going to be a harvest. I wouldn't ever think I would sow today and would reap tomorrow. There is a fixed amount of time.
But He is saying, "That's the physical reality, but that's not the spiritual reality." The spiritual reality is you can sow and reap instantly. The sowing and the reaping can occur one right after another. You don't need to go and sow the seed of faith at your job and then say, "Well, it's going to be a few years before they ever respond" and then go on and never think anything about it.
He is saying, "No, you have to lift your eyes." You have to see, because the spiritual reality is the Holy Spirit can send Jesus into the heart of someone at any moment.
So He says, "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'?" Well, that's the physical. But, "Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" H.B. Morgan said it was custom in that day during the daylight hours to wear white outer garments, white robes, and that sort of thing. Very likely, when Jesus is speaking to His disciples…when He is saying, "Look"…He is telling them to look at these men who were coming.
You see, the Samaritan woman has gone into the city of Sychar, and she has witnessed to this man and said, "I met a Man who told me everything I've ever done. Could this be the Messiah? Come and see." So there is a crowd of people coming out perhaps all dressed in those common white colors. So it's sort of a double meaning. Jesus is telling His disciples, "Look! Look at them! The fields are already white unto harvest."
Listen to what He is saying, "They're coming from the city you just went into and bought My lunch and met nobody who wanted to know about Jesus. I tell you, you have to see it differently." How many a Christian said, "I don't want to witness to that neighbor. They don't want anything to do with God. They already know about the Bible. I'm not going to witness at work. Everybody there, they all have a church membership or they have already answered that question."
Listen, my friends…we have to see the world through the eyes of Jesus. There is a field white unto harvest right in front of us. Not to go into a restaurant, not to go into a city park, not to go into school, go into work, go into a family gathering and fail to see the lost souls who are around you…to fail to see as the disciples saw there was anybody there who would have any interest in anything they represented.
Listen…these disciples have been baptizing. That's what they're doing. They've come to Jacob's well. They're sort of a baptizing group of brothers here. Jesus hasn't personally been. Remember John, the beginning of chapter 4. But the disciples are all baptizing. Well you baptize converts. So now they're waiting, "Well when can we go somewhere and find our next converts?" Jesus said, "They're all around you. You were just in a city full of them. But you didn't witness to them, did you? You didn't witness to them."
So He calls out, and He says, "It's time for you to change your world view. Verse 35 says, "Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" Verse 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. For in this the saying is true: 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors."
Normally, the farmer who sows is also the farmer who reaps. But there was this saying that there comes a time when one sows and another reaps. Jesus is saying, "That's you, disciples. You are going to get to enter into the labor of other people. There are others, who have sowed the seed of the word of faith, and you're going to enter into that labor, and you're going to get to baptize them. You're going to get to hear their confession of faith, and they're going to get to follow you." Jesus had already labored. He had planted the seed in the Samaritan woman. The Samaritan woman then went into the city, and she sowed the Word. So they were both sowers.
Now here comes the harvest, the harvest of these converts who are coming to the disciples. They are to enjoy the benefits of other people's labors. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes you get to be the beneficiary of the work of others that have taken place. You're the one who gets to be there at the prayer of salvation. You're the one who gets to be there to shake the hand of the new convert or the new one who has come for baptism. You're the one who gets to enjoy the work others have put into the investment of souls.
But Jesus says that both he who sows and he who reaps both rejoice. So that means you may be the one who is sowing at work. You may be sowing in your witness at school. You may be sowing among your family, and you may not reap that harvest. So what are you to do? Well, what the verse is really telling us is we're to look to the future by grace. We're to realize what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:58 when he said, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
You may teach the Junior High Boys' Sunday School Class, and you may never see one of them come to faith. Several years later…maybe a year later…maybe after camp later…they come back. But that doesn't diminish your joy because the seed you have sown has been reaped by another worker of Christ. No, what Jesus says is, "He who sows and he who reaps rejoice together." That is what we should do.
It's a joyful work. But my friends, it's not an easy work. Verse 36 says, "And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together." God means for us to be glad in the work we do whether we're sowing or whether we're reaping. But whether the sowing is immediately followed or whether that's delayed, our faith must take over. Faith must lift up its eyes to the future and see that harvest and be able to rejoice that God's Word will not return void.
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