Summary: The harvest field is always ripe for harvest. Jesus is sending people out to bring in the harvest before it is too late.
January 6, 2005
Text: Luke 10:1-12
Subject: #1 in the Series – Preparing for the Harvest
Title: Sending Out Laborers.
My family moved from St. Charles County, MO in June of 1964 when my Mom and Step-dad bought a little country store about 8 miles north of Troy. As a boy of twelve I was excited about the move. But I didn’t realize how much work would be involved in growing up as the son of retailers. There was a lot of work involved just getting the store ready for business. Then there was the actual operation. Each member of the family was expected to do their part. On Tuesday, the store was closed so my parents could go to St. Louis and pick up needed supplies. On Wednesday it was our job to price the new stock and get it all on the shelves. Yes Alice, we moved the old stock to the front and placed the new to the back, and we dusted off the old as we moved it. We took an inventory every quarter for tax purposes.
Along with helping with the store, we waited on cars at the gas pumps. (No self-serve pumps) I couldn’t tell you the number of times that people came in to get one or two dollars worth of gas.
Now I need to tell you, everything that we were asked to do as children was made easier by the fact that we were given instructions to follow. There were certain ways to bag groceries. Put all the refrigerated items together in the same bag. Double bag them. Put as many canned goods together as you could. Get as much in a bag as possible. Bags are expensive. Always carry groceries out for the customer. Always be polite. When someone came for gas always ask what grade (regular or ethyl) and how much. Always wash the windshield and check the oil. And always treat people with respect. We were always well prepared to do the work appointed to us.
In our text today, we see that Jesus has given seventy disciples a job to do. And much like the story I just related about my childhood, He also gave them everything they needed to know about the work He was asking them to do. He was sending them out to begin the harvest of souls that continues today. And the words He told to the seventy are as relevant today as they were two thousand years ago.
Let’s see what Jesus says about going into the harvest fields.
I. APPOINTED TO SERVE (1-3)
A. Sent By Jesus. Verse 1, “After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.” If we look back to 9:57-62 we can see what Luke was referring to when he wrote, “after these things…” Three different men approach Jesus about following Him, but Jesus knew their hearts and responded appropriately. In Verse 62, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” So after these things… Jesus appointed seventy (NIV says 72) others. Seventy was considered by the Jews to be the number of Gentile nations there were in the world. So by implication, Jesus was saying what He confirmed in the great commission. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” He was sending disciples out to continue the work because He knew that His time on earth was short and that after that the final judgment could come at any time. So there is a sense of urgency in what Jesus is doing.
B. Sent Two by Two. Sending Messengers “two-by-two” was common, not only among early Christians, but among the Jews as well. It provided companionship, protection, and the double witness called for in Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:5. By sending them out like this, He was preparing a wider area to receive the message of the kingdom that He was going to preach. It is necessary to cover as much ground as possible while we wait for the return of the Lord. Jesus said, “The harvest is truly great, but the laborers are few…” When there is a lot of work and not many workers, somebody has to get busy. Did you notice that part of the great commission tells us to go and preach the gospel, and part tells us to make disciples? When we make disciples we create workers. It would appear that much of the discipleship work is done through prayer. “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Wow, that takes some pressure off doesn’t it? I mean if we pray that God would send laborers out to the harvest then all we have to do is sit back and keep praying right? In Luke 9:12-13, “12When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.”