Summary: The Harvest Is Plentiful 1) Pray for workers. 2) Thank the workers.
It won’t be long now before you can start picking berries. If you don’t have raspberry of saskatoon bushes of your own, you can always stop by one of those farms that let you pick berries from their bushes. Some of these farms are so big that it doesn’t seem as if they could ever run out of berries, no matter how many people are picking them.
Jesus must have felt the same way when he saw the multitudes of souls ripe for the picking. “The harvest is plentiful!” Jesus exclaimed. If you consider that there must be a least of few billion more people alive today than in Jesus’ day, one can easily see that the harvest remains plentiful. What should we do about it? Jesus tells us: pray for workers, and thank the workers.
A gardener who has lovingly and painstakingly seeded the garden, watered and weeded it during the spring and summer months will not entrust the harvest of his hard work to anyone. The last thing the gardener wants is someone trampling the tomatoes and squishing the squash to get at the garbanzo beans! Isn’t it surprising then that Jesus turns to sinners to announce that the harvest of souls is ready and all that’s needed are willing workers to bring the harvest in? Why not tell the angels this? They would do a much more efficient job of bringing in the sheaves.
It’s to our shame then isn’t it that we see this task of telling others about Jesus as a burden rather than a privilege? When you go to the mall or walk through the airport do you see people for whom Jesus has died? Or do you see competitors – people with whom you need to jockey for your space in line at Tim Horton’s, like cattle trying to nudge their way to the feed trough first? The crowds at the SuperStore checkout line and the people that share the morning commute with us are not objects to be tolerated; they are people whom God loves as much as he loves us. So pray for workers, Jesus says. Pray that God would send willing messengers of his Word into the harvest field to tell these people what Jesus has done for them so that they will come to believe in Jesus and be safely brought to the heavenly home he has prepared for them.
So when is the last time you prayed for the Lord to supply missionaries, pastors, teachers, staff ministers, and faithful professors to his church? Perhaps you haven’t done this since the last time this congregation was without a pastor 11 years ago. But there is a lot more work that needs to be done than just here in St. Albert. What about the surrounding communities? What about far flung countries that have recently opened up to mission efforts? This is a time when we should be expanding mission efforts and yet our synod, like many other church bodies, has had to recall missionaries for lack of funding. What can we do about it? Pray, says Jesus. Appeal to the Lord’s grace and his love for sinners to provide faithful workers in the harvest field.
But don’t just pray that God would send someone else into the harvest field; pray that he would make you a willing worker. Did you notice in our text how right after Jesus told his followers to pray for harvest workers he sent those same followers out into the field? In other words, those followers of Jesus were the answer to their own prayers! Likewise it’s easy to pray, “Lord, send someone to witness to Uncle Joe.” Why not instead pray, “Lord, give me the opportunity today to witness to Uncle Joe. And when I have the opportunity, give me the right words to speak as you have promised to do.” I admit that I don’t always pray that way. Why not? Because sometimes I think I’ve got too much going on in my life. Too much going on to tell others about Jesus!?! That’s what I’m here for! Imagine calling 911 because your house is on fire only to have the operator say: “I can’t send anyone right now because one firefighter is busy landscaping his yard, another one is catching up on his movie watching, and the others are just too tired right now. When I can get a team together I’ll call you back to make an appointment.” It’s really just as crazy for Christians to think they are too busy to tell others about Jesus. This is why we’re still here: to keep people from the fires of hell by telling them about Jesus.
Anyone can and should pray this way. After all, it’s why God has left us here so that we would be witnesses to the people around us. But today I also want to speak to you about considering training for the full time ministry whether as a pastor, staff minister, or a teacher. I love being a pastor because every day I get the opportunity to share God’s Word with someone. And the best part is I also have the time to prepare what I want to say. It’s not an easy task. Jesus told his listeners that he was sending them out as lambs among wolves. The unbelieving world does not want to listen to the message that we have to share with them. Indeed, Satan will do his best to block our efforts. But Jesus does not send his workers out without power and authority. Listen: “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19). When Jesus said that his harvest workers would have the authority to trample snakes, he wasn’t saying that they would never suffer a snake bite. Instead he was speaking about how his workers would have authority over Satan himself. Indeed, the 72 that Jesus sent out came back rejoicing that they had the power to drive out demons in Jesus’ name. Jesus shared their joy and said that he watched as Satan continually fell from his perch of power, like multiple lightning strikes hitting the ground with a wallop in a thunderstorm.