The Harvest and the Harvesters
The word harvest comes from an old English word akin to the latin word carpere – to pluck or gather. The word carpere, in turn, comes from the greek word karpos, which means fruit. Today it refers to the season for gathering in agricultural crops; the act or process of gathering in a crop; and a mature crop (as of grain or fruit). The harvester would be the one who gathers the harvest.
In Matthew 13: 18 – 23, Jesus declares the parable of the tares and the field. Briefly, the land owner sows good seed in the field, but shortly, thereafter, tares appear also. The field workers asked their master whether to gather the tares and throw them away. The master replies that they should wait until the harvest, lest when they pull the tare they pull the wheat also. In Matthew 13: 39 Jesus says that “… the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.” The implication is that at the end of the world spiritual fruit will be mature enough to gather. The word harvest in the New testament most time refers to the end time. Other examples are in verses Revelation 14: 15 and Matthew 4:29.
In this parable what is being harvested is people: those who perfectly reflect the character of Christ; these are the good seed in this parable. The tares are those who have rejected Christ by choosing the enemy’s way. Just like a barren tree is distinguishable from a fruitful one in the season for harvest, people’s character will reveal clearly whom they have chosen in the end of the world.
Another parable in the same chapter tells us what makes the difference between these two groups. In Matthew 13: 3 – 9, we read that a sower spreads around seed in the season for sowing. But, the seed falls in different kinds of soil, thus what happens to the seed in the end has to do with the soil. We read in Matthew 18 – 23 Jesus’ explanation of the parable,
Mat 13:18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
Mat 13:19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
Mat 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
Mat 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Mat 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
Mat 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Every single person that professes Christianity falls into one of the four categories. Every one of us chooses which soil to be. Remember, the harvest season begins when the harvest – the crop – is ready. If the angels are not gathering us to go to heaven, we have not borne fruit mature enough to begin the harvest. We have not borne fruit because, as a group, Christians have not chosen to be good ground. This means that they have chosen not to abide in Christ. Let us read from John 15,
Joh 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
Joh 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Joh 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Joh 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
The branch is so connected to the vine that it is essentially an extension of the vine. In fact, the branch grows out of the vine. It is the branch however that bears leaves, flowers, and fruit. Many people may not know a tree by its bark or leaves. But, many will recognize the fruit. If we continue to read this chapter we will find what the fruit is. Let us read verses 9 through 13,
Joh 15:9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
Joh 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
Joh 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Joh 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Christ makes an obvious connection between loving an abiding. Those who abide keep the commandment (the Greek word for commandment is in singular). What is the commandment: to lay down your life. The commandment is to live a life serving others as Christ lived His life serving others. This can only be done by abiding in Christ. It can only be done by hearing or receiving His words, understanding them and believing them.
There will be those who may look pious but are not. They have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5). Christ said in Matthew 7,
Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Whatever they did it was not in Christ’s name. But, they were professedly Christians. How can this be? Were not the priests and Pharisees and Christ’s day professedly God’s people? Yet, they rejected the Son of God, persecuted Him and finally crucified Him. And, in the name of keeping the Sabbath Holy, they wanted to make sure the crucified were dead and buried before the Sabbath hours. Reportedly, during the Rwandan massacre many Seventh Day Adventists that were involved in the killings were instructed by the leaders not to kill in the Sabbath hours. By the fruit you will know them. They preach God is love, but turn around and describe God as a punitive and penalizing God. They give people the wrong picture of God. They, in great measure, keep people away from entering Heaven by keeping people in darkness about the true nature of God. Thus they hide the keys to enter the door to heaven from people. Also, notice they do not know they are doing it.
The point is that the fruit tells us whether you are a disciple or not. We read in Matthew 25 about those who are truly His disciples,
Mat 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Mat 25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Mat 25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Mat 25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
Mat 25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Mat 25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
Mat 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
It is, then, in loving service to others that the fruit is revealed.