Workers for the Harvest Field
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… (Luke 10:1-3)
“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. “Whoever listens to you listens to Me; whoever rejects you rejects Me; but whoever rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” (Luke 10:8-17)
How many of you go to church? I mean “regularly to one particular church?” Think about your church: – it’s your church, you know the people and they know you; the people there would miss you if you stopped going, and you would miss them if you stopped going. Relationships.
How long would you still go to that church if the pastor left? How long would you still go to that church if the pastor, your family and friends, and the entire worship team left? Maybe a better question would be “WHO do you go to your church for?” Relationships? BUT IF ALL THOSE PEOPLE LEFT, would you still go there?
“Why do you go there?” For ministry opportunities? How far do you drive to go to church? Consumerism. “I’m comfortable there!” Sometimes churches are chosen like we choose restaurants or like we choose clothing stores.
But do we choose a church because of the situation in the community itself? We care about the church folk that we know, but what is going on in the community outside the church? Is that on our radar? A lot of times, the church isn’t really engaged with the problems of the community. Nationally we care, because we watch TV and hear about poverty, public health, crime and community protests. But in our own community? This year, COVID-19 came to your community. Black Lives Matter right in your own community. Shouldn’t our churches know about the communities in which they are situated? WHY are the churches in those communities if they are not involved in their communities?
The Gospel of Luke reads, “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.” 72 divided by groups of 2 = 36, 36 teams of 2. Those teams were the Advance Teams sent ahead of Jesus to each place where He was about to go. Jesus had a master plan to visit 36 towns and villages. And He sent 2 guys ahead to EACH one of these places to preach BEFORE He got there. 36 locations. 36 communities. 36 places where people lived and worked. 36 places where Jesus was going to come. But first, before He came, the people in those places were going to hear 2 guys preach, cast out demons, heal the sick, and tell the good news that Jesus Himself was about to come to their town! Fascinating!
And so, they all hit the roads and went to the 36 towns! Verse 17 says that “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’” Jesus rejoiced with them (verses 18-20) and prayed to the Father thanking Him for helping the 72 (verses 21-22). Imagining what Jesus might have said, he probably said something like this, “Hey, guys! That was awesome! Good work! Thank you, Father! Thank you, 36 Advance Teams! The HARVEST really WAS plentiful and there were only two of you in each town! God used you!!!”
Going to back to an earlier question - “BUT IF ALL YOUR PEOPLE LEFT your church, would you still go there?”
I wonder how your church began? Did it begin because somebody cared about your town?
Who were the first people that began meeting together in Jesus’ name in that neighborhood and began your church? Somebody prayed about that place. Somebody prayed about the people who live there. Someone “asked the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field.” Jesus might have sent just TWO disciples. But they were faithful, and they began to preach and cast out demons and heal the sick and tell the good news that Jesus Himself was about to come to that town. How many did it take to start YOUR church? WHY did they start where they did?
One hot summer when we were in South America, we were sent to a small farming town that didn’t have much of a Christian population: there was only one small church of 20 members in the town of 30,000 people. We scheduled a showing of the Jesus Film on a Saturday night in the city park which was right in the center of the little town. EVERYTHING went wrong that night! First, we couldn’t get the projector light bulb to come on. We had to get more gasoline for the power generator. It looked like it was going to rain. Not that many folks came to see the Jesus Film. And right in the middle of the story, a BIG BLACK CLOUD of mosquitos hit us like you wouldn’t believe!!! We grabbed our cans of OFF and started spraying everybody! It was horrible! Almost everyone ran back to their homes. ONLY FOUR PEOPLE STAYED until the end!
But one lady stayed and, at the end, she wanted to pray. Her name was Eledia. She was probably in her 60’s and she had come all by herself. She told us that the movie helped her to see who Jesus really was and what He did by dying on the cross. She wanted to make a decision to follow Jesus. So, some of our ladies prayed with her, she gave us her phone number and her address, and we promised to visit her the next weekend when we came back to her town.
My team and I came back the next week, and we were met at the door by Eledia’s husband and by her adult daughter who had driven in from another nearby town just to meet us. They were ecstatic! They welcomed us into the house and were so excited about Eledia’s conversion!! (This was not the USUAL reaction that I heard!) It turns out that they were long-time Christians and had been praying for Eledia for SEVENTEEN years. They were part of a small Messianic Jewish church that was at least an hour away – they had been inviting her to join them all those years, BUT she WOULDN’T go with them or have anything to do with their church. They were overjoyed that Eledia had found the gospel through a simple film about Jesus in HER own town!
One week later, Eledia called us to come over to her house again. Three other people went, and what do you think they found when they got there? There were 23 people sitting in a circle in her backyard waiting for our team. Eledia had invited all of her neighbors and friends to come over, and she wanted our team to tell them about Jesus! Our folks didn’t have to say much – there was ELEDIA smiling from ear to ear and talking NONSTOP about the joy and forgiveness she had received from Jesus! And her husband and daughter and her family were all there, very happy, too! They had fixed a feast with all sorts of barbecued meats and terrific food and deserts for the entire neighborhood!
In less than 7 days, a church got started in that town that day, and they are still going strong! One lady – Eledia – was the first one to accept Christ and she brought most of her neighbors and friends in with her! Eledia loved her neighbors right there in her community, and they saw the difference that God made in her!
Maybe the best question should be “how many people go to your church because YOU go THERE?
Professor Tim McKeithen, NBC Faculty and Director Hispanic Pastoral Ministries Program
Filed Under: Communicator Published: 06/15/2020