Summary: Jesus sends us out into the world ahead of Him to do His work, preparing unbelievers to receive Him.
“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go” (Lk. 10:1). In every generation, Jesus appoints men to go forth and prepare the way before Him. Surely Jesus could do the work Himself—indeed as God the Son He was the creative Word that made all things. But Christ has determined that the Church shall operate not as a dictatorship, but as a fellowship, a body, His Body. So He sets us to task. And where are we to go? We go to those places that the Lord is about to go. Where is that? To the ends of the earth! There is no place that Jesus is not looking to save and redeem. But within this mission field, here in Easton and Talbot County, in our workplaces and neighborhoods, we must ask the Lord, “Where are we to go?” Where exactly are You planning to move next; to whom are You about to visit? We must inquire of Christ what is the next place, because we want to be going ahead of Him, not moving on away from Him.
“He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field’” (Lk. 10:2). The fields are ripe, the seed has been sown and the grain stands golden in the fields. There is not so much a shortage of crop to harvest, as there is a shortage of servants to bring it in. God has prepared such a harvest in this place, that if the Lord’s laborers went to gather it up, there would not be room enough in all the churches to hold the people.
It is not the laborers’ initiative to choose to go into the harvest field. Yes, the worker must be willing, but it is the Lord of the harvest who chooses to send the laborers or not to send them, who decides to bring in from this field and not from that one. This is why we must first “ask the Lord of the harvest.” We must find where He wants us to go ahead of Him, so that we bring in the right crops. Right now is the correct time to harvest blueberries and last month was the right time to harvest wheat. But what if we were to go into a cornfield and start harvesting the ears of corn? First, we’d find that the corn is little more than blisters; second, we’d destroy the good crop that could have been harvested in the autumn. And it’s worth noting that if you go to New England, it would be too early for blueberries, even; where we are affects where God sends us out. Following God’s initiative is critical for the Kingdom of God to come in power and its fullness.
“Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves” (Lk. 10:3). After we are appointed, and after we have prayed for the Lord to send out laborers, when the Lord says to us, “Go!” we must then GO! Asking Jesus to send out people to bring in the harvest is not enough. It’s not enough for us to sit comfortably within these walls and “do church.” When sent, we must go and do the work that He has given us to do. There is all manner of ministry in the Church: he gave “some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11). I am jealous of Fr. Nate’s God-given gift that allows him to walk up to all manner of people and speak Christ to them in a very personal way. But Fr. Nate’s giftedness doesn’t mean that I can neglect my duty to reach out to those who need the Lord.
When we go into the world, we shouldn’t be surprised when we face obstacles. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). We go out as lambs among wolves. We are sent not to force ourselves and our message upon others, but to show them the Savior, the only One Who has the words of eternal life. The world converts like the wolf, by devouring and tearing apart. The Church must convert gently.
“When you enter a town and are welcomed there, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you’” (Lk. 10:8,9). As we minister to the world, gently like lambs, we should accept what is given to us whether it is humble or grand: we should eat what is set before us. That means that we should not pine for what we don’t receive but the next Christian does, or long for the days when we had better things, or think about how much nicer the next place might be. Also, it means that if we are offered splendid things, we should not turn them away out of a sense of false humility. The thanks that we receive is not thanks to us, but it is a response to God’s goodness, and the offering is holy unto Him.