This Sunday morning we will continue our study of the Gospel of Luke in Chapter 10 verses 1-3. 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. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.”
Last week we discussed that the harvest is plentiful. We discussed that the laborers sent out into the harvest are few. We discussed that we should be willing to go and pray earnestly for God to send out others as well. This morning we will focus on verse 3 as we resolve to live and die for Christ.
Lambs and Wolves
Jesus told His followers, “I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” That does not sound very comforting, does it? What normally happens when lambs find themselves in the midst of wolves? They become lunch. Why would Jesus tell His disciples this troubling statement before sending them out? He is warning them of the difficulty of the task. One reason why the laborers are few (v.2) is because the labor is difficult.
Lambs are protected from wolves and other predators because they are helpless to defend themselves. It is this vulnerability that is the key to seeing the connection Jesus is making between His followers and lambs. Jesus’ followers proclaim the gospel through witness not warfare and through Bibles not bullets. Christians are vulnerable to attack and suffering as they carry out the mission.
Jesus tells His followers that He is “sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” Do you sense the danger involved? A follower might say that he does not want to go into a particular area of the world because it is dangerous. But, Jesus says I am sending my followers into that area because it is dangerous. When Jesus gave His Great Commission, He was not just speaking about the safe areas but the dangerous areas as well:
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. (Matthew 28:18-20)
For most of us, pastor included, the thought of going into a dangerous area is frightening because of the thought of dying. Dying for Christ is not something most of us wake up eager to do. Let me encourage you in this way: before you commit to dying for Christ, commit to living for Christ.
Live for Christ
Are you willing to live for Christ? What does that mean? Living for Christ might be one of the hardest things a Christian can do because it means swimming against the cultural current. It means putting up guardrails in your life to help you live a life that is pleasing to God. It means loving God more than your money, your family, and your job. It means that you “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1). It means “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17).
Living for Christ means that He is your greatest desire and your thoughts are always focused on bringing glory and honor to Him. Living for Christ means that you strive daily to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Living for Christ means that you understand that every breath you take and every meal you eat is a gift from God that is given to provide the strength to labor in the gospel harvest. This is important because only a person who is committed to living for Christ is willing to die for Christ.
Die for Christ
Before we discuss this next point, remember that if you are not willing to live for Christ; you are not willing to die for Christ. Stephen died for Christ and he was “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). Why would a person die for Christ? Would Jesus ask His followers to die for Him? Jesus does not require all of His followers to die for His name, but He does require all of His followers to be willing to die for His name. If the decision is between affirming your life and death or denying your faith and living, you resolve to die before denying your Lord. Remember Jesus’ words in Luke 9:26, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
Jesus prepares us for the difficulty of the task in John 15:20, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” Paul wrote to a young minister named Timothy and said, “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12). Are you so committed to Christ that you are willing to die for Him if needed?
Let us conclude by reading the words of Paul in Acts 20:22-24:
I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. – Paul in Acts 20:22-24
Questions for Reflection
- Why does Jesus say His followers are being sent out as lambs among wolves?
- Does your life prove you live for Christ?
- Does your life prove you are willing to die for Christ?