This Sunday morning we will continue our study of the Gospel of Luke in Chapter 10 verses 1-2. It reads:
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
This morning, we will learn three things about our text: First, the Harvest; Second, the Laborers; and Third, the Responsibility.
The Harvest. Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful.” What is this harvest? Jesus is not a farmer; therefore, He cannot be talking about a physical harvesting of fruit or grain. What Jesus is talking about is a spiritual harvesting of people. It is an illustration of the good news of Jesus Christ. It is the offering of forgiveness of sins to the world and the reconciling of men with God. This harvest refers to the Great Commission Jesus gave in Matthew 28-18-20:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
What does Jesus say about this spiritual harvest? He says it is plentiful. It is plentiful in that there is much work to be done in the harvest.
On October 31, 2011, it is estimated that the world population reached 7 billion and in 13 years the population will reach 8 billion. Of the 7 billion people alive today, almost 3 billion (42%) live in what we call an “unreached people group”. An unreached people group is a group of people in which less than 2% claim any form of what we would call Christianity. Consider the 122 million Japanese people; there might be 1,500 who would claim any Christian affiliation. Imagine if that were Scott City. Scott City contains almost 4,600 people. If Scott City were Japan, there would be 55 people in the entire town that would claim any Christian affiliation. Truly, the harvest is plentiful.
The Laborers. We have a plentiful harvest that needs to be harvested. What about the laborers to work in this harvest? Jesus says, “The laborers are few.” Why are there few? The laborers are few because there are a lot of people who do not follow Jesus. The Bible tells us that all people are “by nature, children of wrath” (Eph 2:3). Everyone is born “dead in their trespasses and sins…following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:1-2). The laborers are few because people love “all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life” (1 John 2:16) more than they love God.
Tragically, the laborers are few because even among those who follow Jesus there are some who are not laborers in the harvest. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to go to Africa, but everyone has a role to fulfill. Consider what the Paul says to his fellow Christians: “We are His [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:9). God has prepared work for every Christian in the harvest. There is labor to be done and we must all do our part.
The Responsibility. With such a great task of harvesting and so few laborers, what shall we do? Jesus says, “Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” What good is that? It is the most important thing because you are speaking with the Lord of the harvest who is in charge of sending out laborers into His harvest. God knows the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few and He has been, currently is, and will continue to raise up men and women to labor in His harvest. He is doing so right now.
This is why we have boldness to share our faith and labor in the harvest. We know Jesus’ words in John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
The gospel is to go out into the entire world because His word “shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isa 55:11). In Revelation 7:9-10 we see this promise fulfilled:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
This does not mean that everyone will be saved, but it does mean that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom 10:13). What is remarkable about this responsibility to pray earnestly is that it is understood that you are asking for the Lord to send out other laborers. The seventy-two who were told to pray were first told to go.
There is much work to be done in the harvest here in Scott City, in Missouri, in the USA, and in the world. Let us all labor in the harvest and pray earnestly for the Lord to send more workers for this important task.
Questions for Reflection
- What does Jesus say about the harvest? Why is this true?
- What does Jesus say about the laborers? Why is this true?
- What is the proper response to the harvest?