Last week, Pastor Len shared a very familiar message about our great calling – to GO and make disciples.
That passage applies to ALL of us, even though that command was given to the 11 that were closest to Jesus during his earthly ministry – THE disciples.
In case you had any doubts that this passage is for each of us today, I want to heat to another passage. Luke 10. Here, Jesus picks “72 other disciples” and sends them out. As they are going, he gives them these insights and instructions:
Luke 10:1–3 (ESV) — 1 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. 2 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. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
I think the American church has believed a lie. Well, maybe more than one, but there is just one I want to look at this morning.
If we were to give advice to people about evangelism, we might say something like, “The harvest is few but the workers are many” or “The harvest is few but the workers are few, too”.
BEFORE Jesus sends out these disciples, he gives them 2 INSIGHTS:
- The Harvest is PLENTIFUL.
- The Workers are FEW.
The PLENTIFUL HARVEST
ILLUSTRATE: take a bowl and a box of cereal. Show them the empty bowl. Explain that it is empty ;)
- Pour a little cereal in the bowl and ask if they would consider it “plenteous”.
- Add a little more and ask again.
- Fill the bowl almost to the top and ask again (some will say “yes”)
- Pour more so that it is mounded, then ask again (most will say yes)
This word “plentiful” means, there is a lot. In the NT it refers to the great crowds that Jesus fed with 5 loaves and 2 fish. It refers to the many people that Jesus healed. It refers to the many blessings that await those who are faithful to Him.
πολύς [polus /pol·oos/] adj. Including the forms from the alternate pollos; TDNT 6:536; GK 4498; 365 occurrences; AV translates as “many” 210 times, “much” 73 times, “great” 59 times, and translated miscellaneously 23 times. 1 many, much, large.
· POUR MORE CEREAL so that it flows all over the table. THAT is plenteous.
The harvest is like that bowl overflowing. As long as the church believes otherwise it will NOT see the harvest! Do you believe that there are MANY (polus) people around you that are READY to hear about Jesus? No? Then YOU have also believed the lie.
Jesus wants us to understand that the problem is not with the harvest, it is not with the unsaved, the problem is with the workers, the Christ-followers.
The FEW WORKERS
Now, let me just say that SO MANY in this church are hard workers! Some of you spend hours and hours each week doing work for the church, teaching, serving. Thank you SO MUCH for your faithful service.
So, if that is the case, why would Jesus make this statement?
It is NOT that Christ-followers are lazy. Frankly, they can be the most hard-working, selfless, giving people I know. It is NOT that they lack motivation – I have met thousands of people in this church over the past 27 years that have so much passion and devotion for Christ and his people.
This last week I was over at someone’s house and they had a sign on their counter... “live in light of Eternity”
Is it possible that we work hard, but there are not many that are working with eternity in mind? I know if I dissected my time over the past years, the VAST majority of it would be at work, with family and with church family. ALL great things to invest my time in. HOWEVER, that is NOT working for the harvest?
The study conducted by LifeWay Research found 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.
ASK: on your bulletin, write down the number of times you have had a conversation about eternity over the past 2 years.
That was a pretty humbling exercise for me... and it gets even more humbling. The workers truly are few when it comes to focusing on the Harvest. SO... what do you do?
Again, my American mindset starts filling in the options:
“Therefore” – because there are many people who are ready to accept Jesus and so few people who are willing to share Jesus with them we are commanded to do what?
- Teach more about it?
- Increase your budget?
- Add more staff?
How to WORK THE HARVEST
Jesus gives us 2 COMMANDS on what it takes to be a worker of the harvest, and it is not what we often think of.
- Go [this one Pastor Len covered last week]
PRAY. Again, perhaps this is not the “American way”. Why not any of the above-mentioned items? Why not increase teaching? Isn’t that what you are doing this morning, Pastor Mike? Well, yes, I am. And all those items may be helpful or needed... but it is not where Jesus says to start.
Pray... like, pray for the missionaries? Pray for someone else to tell them? Pray that people will somehow, magically hear about Jesus and come to know him :\
Pray for a HEART FOR THE LOST
One item we should have on our prayer list, is to ask God to help us love people the way Jesus did. Look at the parallel passage for our text – it gives a bit of the back story:
Matthew 9:36–37 (NLT) — 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.
When Jesus saw the crowds he felt COMPASSION on them. We need to have that kind of compassion. The kind that makes us want to help them, and not with just temporary things, but with eternal things. Jesus had compassion and THEN said we need more workers.
Pray that God will give you a heart of compassion.
Pray for ANSWERS FOR YOUR HOPE
We are going to look at this more next week, but here is the verse:
1 Peter 3:15 (NLT) — 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.
Pray for REVIVIAL
Pray that God’s message will spread
2 Thessalonians 3:1 (NLT) — 1 Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you.
We often hear this phrased something like, “pray for revival”. What we mean is, pray that we will see and experience God’s work of salvation in our homes, community, region, country and the world.
Pray for VERSES TO SHARE
Isaiah 55:10–11 (NLT) — 10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. 11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
God’s Word always produces fruit. Pray that God will remind you of verses that you can share so that God’s word, not your words, can sink into their hearts. This is also important to make sure you are passing on God’s truth and not just good ideas or Dr Phil’s remedy.
Pray for EMPOWERMENT TO SHARE BOLDLY
Ephesians 6:19 (NLT) — 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.
Whether we are afraid, why or just nervous, God can help us be bold. Pray that you will experience a Godly empowerment to be able to share with confidence the hope that you have in Jesus.
Pray to SEIZE OPPORTUNITIES
Colossians 4:5–6 (NLT) — 5 Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.
We often miss opportunities because we are not expecting them or looking for them. In this passage, Paul asks for prayer – that he would have opportunities to share. Make this request part of your daily routine, “Lord, give me opportunities to share your love and gospel with others today. Help me to see the opportunities that you place in front of me”
Pray for TWO PEOPLE TO COME TO CHRIST
Pray for specific people you know, and don’t give up!
John 4:36 (NLT) — 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike!
- H – heart for the lost
- A – answers for the hope that I have
- R – revival for community
- V – verses to share
- E – empowerment to speak boldly
- S – seize opportunities
- T – two people who you know need Jesus
- A prayer card for people – giving them some form of prayer challenge each day? Unsaved family, community, a co-worker, a foreign country, the USA, friend or neighbor?
- Perhaps a small prayer journal?
- Prayer journal app: PrayerMate? DayOne journal? Trello?
REGARDLESS of what you choose to use, the goal is the same: if you were as ashamed as I was of the answer to “How many time have you told someone about Jesus in the last 2 years?” then the goal is to start by PRAYING. NOT for someone else to do the work of evangelism, but that God would give YOU and ME a heart for the lost.
 Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.