“NOW AFTER this the Lord chose and appointed seventy others and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two into every town and place…”
“And He said to them, The harvest indeed is abundant [there is much ripe grain], but the farm hands are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:1, 2–Amplified Bible).
I was but a new Christian in 1974; 32 years old and on fire about sharing my faith with the lost. One day after church, I approached the Associate Pastor, who was the pastor of Evangelism and Visitation. I wanted him to know that I felt a calling to spread the Gospel, door to door, in the neighborhood surrounding the church. I even quoted from my Bible the passage in Luke 10:2.
Pastor Sid thought it was a good idea and he would help in any way that I needed his help. He would also place the notice in the church bulletin and announce the timing for the event from the pulpit.
I thought a Saturday morning at 10:30 would be a good time to knock on doors, with a strategy and prayer before we would leave the church. No one but Pastor Sid showed up that morning. We both tried again the following Saturday with the same results! I was so discouraged. Was I the only one in the entire church who had “the calling”? Was this whole idea just one that I made up in my mind or was it really from God?
THE HARVEST IS PLENTIFUL
In the agrarian or farming economy of Palestine, the harvest was an ever-present reality. The idea of the harvest was used not only for bringing men and women to faith in Christ but also for a final gathering of God’s people at the end of the age (Matt. 13:19 and Rev. 14:15). But here in Luke 10, Jesus has in mind an immediate harvest; a right now kind of harvest!
So often, we look at people with natural eyes, where Jesus looks at their spiritual readiness. He sees the people of Judea as if they are a huge harvest, nearly ripe, ready for the pickin’.
Fields are typically planted so the whole field becomes ripe about the same time. Seldom would you go into a field or orchard for selective picking. Rather, when the whole field is ripe, you bring in the harvesters and reap the whole field at one time.
A HARVEST EVEN IN SAMARIA
While the disciples might hate the Samaritans, Jesus sees a harvest among them:
“Do you not say, It is still four months until harvest time comes? Look! I tell you raise your eyes and observe the fields and see how they are already white for harvesting. Already the reaper is getting his wages [he who does the cutting now has his reward], for he is gathering fruit (crop) unto life eternal, so that he who does the planting and he who does the reaping may rejoice together. For in this the saying holds true, One sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap a crop for which you have not toiled. Other men have labored and you have stepped in to reap the results of their work” (John 4:35-38–Amplified Bible translation).
How do you view the harvest in your community? Perhaps all you see is the immorality, the apostasy, as represented by the Woman at the Well.
But a word from Jesus can turn resistance to openness; unbelief to enthusiastic faith. The answer is found in His word and His power!
THE WORKERS ARE FEW
“And He said to them, The harvest indeed is abundant [there is much ripe grain], but the farm-hands are few” (10:2b).
Needed is an unlimited number
of hard-working and committed “farm-hands” with a willingness
and readiness to harvest the fields before they
Plenty of kingdom “fringe benefits” for those who aren’t quitters.
I am a city boy! Now like a lot of you, I’ve had vegetable gardens, and fruit trees to harvest from but I never required any “farm-hands” to help in the gathering.
Dr. Ralph Wilson is living at the edge of the California Central Valley. He remarks, “Too few workers at harvest time can be a disaster! The entire crop can spoil and rot in the fields UNLESS workers are available at the right time. Workers who are willing to work very hard at the concentrated harvest season.”
Farmers rest in the winter months but during the long summer harvest season, they might be working night and day. It’s HOT, SWEATY and MUSCLE ACHING work in thee fields and many avoid that kind of intense labor.
Fortunately, Jesus’ workforce is growing; from 12 to now 70! But it is hard to find committed workers. Too many people make excuses. Just prior to the Sending Out of the seventy, Jesus said,
“Become my disciple, side with My party, and accompany Me! But he replied, Lord, permit me to go and bury (await the death of) my father. BUT Jesus said to him, Allow the dead to bury their own dead, but as for you, go and publish abroad throughout all regions the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:59-60–Amplified Bible).
If you were to look at the average Christian congregation in America, how many of the members are actually involved in church “harvesting” activities? It seems to me that many are involved in what meets their needs and their children’s needs, yet shy away from mission to meet others needs. “Not in my church!” Then good for you!
We have an abundance of churches in our community but few workers and perhaps few actual disciples. Disciples are those who follow Jesus in His work; deny self, take up their cross daily and follow Him. Their discipleship is not a matter of their own comfort but of Jesus’ mission. Jesus seeks to recruit us as a worker in His harvest, not just church attenders.
TOO FEW WORKERS? THE ANSWER TO THE PROBLEM IS?
The answer is PRAYER:
“Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (10:2c).
Why does Jesus say this to His disciples that the answer is PRAYER? After all, it wasn’t their problem, it’s His. He shares this answer because soon they will be the harvest foremen in need of workers. They need to know how to deal with this need in some other way than beating up on the believers; by manipulation and guilt trips.
The word translated “send out” in this verse is noteworthy. The Greek word is ekballo. At the root level it means “drive out, expel“; literally, “to throw out forcibly”.
Secondarily the connotation of force recedes with the meaning “send out“. The root word ballo, “to throw,” is a violent word, the basis of the English word “ballistic“.
PRAYER is our most important recruitment technique, proceeding any other invitation to the work. It is also Jesus’ pattern too!
Before He appoints the Twelve, He spends the night in prayer (Luke 6:12). Who is the Lord of the harvest? God. What does to ask mean in relation to God? PRAY! Ultimately, it is the Lord of the harvest who sends men and women out as His workers, not the foreman. The foreman merely directs the workers that the Master hires and sends.
“A SENSE OF CALLING”; A NECESSITY!
What does a sense of calling look like? The apostle Paul wrote,
“For if I [merely] preach the Gospel, that gives me no reason to boast, for I feel compelled of necessity to do it. Woe is me if I do not preach the glad tidings (the gospel)!” (1 Corinthians 9:16–Amplified Bible)
Sometimes we make an arbitrary distinction between the clergy and the laity. We use words like “vocation” (from the Latin word for “calling“); to describe a career path in the ministry. I have heard people in the church say, “I thought I was called once into the ministry. But now I am too old!”. You are never too old, for “The harvest indeed is abundant” all around you.
Pastors are no more “called” than you and I to ministry. That is to say, both you and professional ministers are called by God to serve Him in whatever capacity He chooses. Whether you are a full-time Christian worker or a “tent-maker”; to earn a living like Paul (Acts 18:3). You are no less called.
Are you a worker or farm- hand in the harvest? Do you work in Jesus’ mission, out of a sense of personal calling, or out of duty and obligation to a human leader or organization?
By talking to God yourself, ask Him about what He has for you to do. Get it from God Himself and then EXPECT! Be confirmed by your Christian brothers and sisters by the fruitfulness in what He is calling you to do.
“Evangelism is NOT a professional job for a few trained men, but it is instead the unrelenting of every person who belongs to the company of Jesus.” by Elton Trueblood.
An Evangelist, according to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary: euangelizo, “to proclaim glad tidings,” “good news, gospel;” “a messenger of good,” denotes a “preacher of the gospel,” Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11.
THE OUTCOME OF THE CALLING?
“The seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!” (Luke 10:17).
If that verse doesn’t give you the confidence and faith that you will need a laborers, I don’t know what will!