John 4:35-39 Say not you, There are yet four months, and then come harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reap receive wages, and gather fruit unto life eternal: that both he that sow and he that reap may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One sow, and another reap. I sent you to reap that whereon you bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and you are entered into their labours. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
The harvest began after the Passover in April, so the four months before this would be in December. ‘Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.’ This refers to the Samaritans that were coming out of the city to hear Him. The harvest of souls was already at hand, produced in one day. The lesson is that we are not to sit and wait four months for spiritual harvests; we can have an immediate harvest of the seed sown by living out God’s love to us indeed (by our example) and not through our words (1 Jn. 3:18) in our daily dealings with others.
Christ had sown the seed in the woman and had already received wages of gratification of saving souls. He had sown and gathered fruit unto life eternal the same day, so the sower and the reaper, who here were one and the same person, rejoiced over the harvest of that day (comp. 1Cor. 3:6-9).
Verse 38 simply states that Christ had sent the disciples out to reap benefits of the labours and to carry on the work of the prophets and others before them, including Himself and John the Baptist. They had already baptized many and had preached and healed many (Matt. 10:1-42; Luke 9:1-62; 10:1-42; John 4:2). ‘Believed on him’ – This brings the new birth and eternal life (John 3:15-18; 1Jn. 5:1).
There is no proof that the woman was a prostitute. Her five husbands could have died, or they could have legally divorced her, for divorce then was easy to get. Men divorced for “every cause” (Matt. 19:1-12). It was not always that Deuteronomy 24:1 applied: “and it comes to pass that she find no favour in his eyes because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement.” Rabbis now ignored this, giving divorces for minor causes. Whether the Samaritan allowed divorce or repeated widowhood is not known. The one “whom thou now hast” may have only been under contract to her and they had not yet come together as man and wife (John 4:18).