Luke 10:1-4 – 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. 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. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
The mission is serious, the message is urgent and the labor will be challenging! Jesus prepares His disciples for this with His declaration: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” It’s going to be a BIG job, and when He says this, Christ is not referring to the wheat, corn, beans or figs! He’s talking about souls that are ripe for the kingdom of God! “The harvest is plentiful…”but there are very few harvesters to get the job done! A multitude of souls are ripe for the Kingdom, but there are not many enlisted in the task of reaping! There is more work than 36 teams of two could ever accomplish!
Jesus urges His followers to pray about this shortage of laborers, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.” I don’t think things have changed much these two thousand years later. Good, faithful and productive labor is hard to find. There are not enough workers! It seems most people would rather be the queen bee! There’s a shortage of work ethic and laborers in our culture, and the same is true in our churches! Ten percent of the people do most of the work, while ninety percent enjoy the benefits of someone else’s labor! So, Christ instructs His disciples to PRAY – pray that God will inspire, train up and commission more workers!
Having told them to pray, His very next instruction is, “GO!” The Lord of the harvest immediately commissions into the labor force those who pray for Him to send out workers! Do you think maybe that’s why very few heed this instruction to pray – because they realize that would likely mean THEY would be sent into the labor force? Pray and Go! We are not free to pray that others would be sent if we are not also willing to work! Our prayer cannot be, “Here am I, Lord, send HER!” The GOSPEL begins with GO!
“I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” Great! This is beginning to sound a bit like a suicide mission. Everyone knows how well lambs survive in a pack of wolves! Wolves are blood thirsty predators, and these lambs better pray that they aren’t prey! These lambs will not be laboring in a sheep-friendly environment. They will need to be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves. They will need to be on their guard, men possessing the faith of Daniel, courageous and strong, doing everything in love. This mission is not a vacation retreat. They are to travel lightly, taking no extra money, luggage or shoes! And, they are not to be deterred in their urgent mission by stopping to socialize along the way! Small talk and meaningless conversation will hinder in their assignment. They are to be single-minded, diligent, alert, faithful ambassadors who are tending to their Master’s business – right in the middle of a wolf pack! Where can we find humble faithful diligent laborers, who are willing to take on a dangerous mission, without adequate help for the amount of work, and with very limited resources and equipment? Does this kind of character exist in our world? Pray and ask the Lord of the harvest to send some – then be ready to be one!
Prayer Challenge: Join the Psalmist in this prayer of praise and assurance. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23)