Jesus defined “rich” with different terms, values of a different economy, and principles of exchange and harvest unique to His kingdom. Harvest occurs in everything, not just in crops and money. Natural resources, human resources, and spiritual resources all function with seedtime and harvest cycles.
Jesus told a parable: a rich farmer had an unusually good harvest and asked himself what he should do with it. This is the beginning point of the parable’s revelation, this question, “Since I don’t have room in the barns for this unusual harvest, what shall I do with it?”
Applying the parable, Jesus will remind us that what we wear, eat, and how secure we are in home and condition isn’t dependent upon natural or human resources but upon spiritual resources. This rich man put all his security and future in natural resources with no thought of human and spiritual resources. The rich man didn’t know that the natural wasn’t going to help him much given that he was about to face death.
Of course, this is another take on Jesus’ repeated message of priorities, values, and behaviors of His kingdom in opposition to those of this world. Of course, this is a good parable to preach salvation and making Jesus Lord of your life.
I’m talking more about the presuppositions of Jesus’ story, the thinking of Jesus about what to do with harvest.
Harvest has purpose, and this rich man seems to see the purpose of his harvest in the wrong way. Some people take this teaching of Jesus to mean that we should be as poor as possible to avoid the trap of riches, but this isn’t the message of the story. Jesus says you are gonna be clothed, fed, and cared for by the Father, so we would need to wonder about thinking the care, comfort, and concern of the Father would be to make us poor and needy when Jesus is making it clear that Father’s care would be a vast improvement on the riches of this world’s system!
Harvest has purpose, and this rich man missed the purpose of the harvest. Harvest speaks more of the future than the past even though it is the product of previous action. Harvest comes from past action, to be sure, but the harvest purpose speaks of greater increase by greater sowing. This rich man saw this unusual harvest as an opportunity to stop farming, stop producing, and just take it easy the rest of life. “I’ll corner the market and control distribution; I’ll have it all my way now that I’ve gained this unusual harvest.”
The purpose of harvest and the purpose of life are intertwined. God says, “Well, the purpose of your life was to use harvest to sow for greater harvest, so if you have determined to not sow anymore and simply store the harvest so you can waste the rest of your life, your personal purpose and the purpose of the harvest no longer match. Tonight, you soul is required of you because the purpose of your life was to invest harvest into the ground for greater harvest.”
Paul mentions this concept in 2 Corinthians. Principle: the promise to seed-sowers is more bread and an increase of seed available for sowing. When you have unusual harvest, you are commissioned to sow more seed and expect even greater harvest in the future. Unusual harvest isn’t about retiring but about plowing more fields and sowing more seed!
This is also some of the sense of Amos’ prediction that planters and harvesters would be in the fields at the same time. The picture is that as harvest occurs in one portion of the field, another part is plowed for immediate sowing of harvest seed. Gathering the grapes is cause for expanding the vineyard.
When you miss the purpose of harvest, you miss the purpose of your assignment. Where is the harvest? Barren fields remind us that we failed to invest harvest in the right places.
If miracles, signs, and wonders are used to confirm you and your ministry, the harvest of these miracles, signs, and wonders gets stored in a barn instead of being invested in expanded fields. If America is seeing a decrease in authentic kingdom, the harvest of the previous seasons may be stored up in silos instead of being invested in kingdom expansion. In other words, if church growth confirmed you and your local church instead of establishing kingdom in your city and region, perhaps the harvest in your silos will be given to someone else so it can be invested in the ground, not to expand your strange, country club campus definition of ecclesia.
If your harvest of influence and impact was used in political comparison and competition, every other leader in the kingdom being your rival or ally in a ‘winner takes all’ contest, your harvested influence and impact needs to move from the barn to the bunker ’cause we are in a war, not an election.
The rich guy defined “success” wrongly so he defined “harvest” wrongly and missed the purpose of harvest by a wide margin. There is a couple of other echoes in Jesus’ teaching about “take from the one who buried the talent and give it to the one who invested” and “to whom much is given, much is required.”
Some decisions need to be made ahead of time. We need to determine now what we will do with an unusual harvest. One is coming of unprecedented proportion, and if we remain stuck in our strange definition of success, the ecclesia will be building bigger barns and drafting new country club campus plans rather than plowing new fields for greater sowing. The rich man didn’t even think about sowing more fields because he was concerned with the size of his barns, not the expansion of the farm.