Gathering the Harvest: The Work of the Kingdom.
This passage in Luke specifically verses 1 and 2 are a couple of the foundational verses for Christ Our Hope.
Luke 10: 1-16: The Mission of the Kingdom
You know the interesting thing about Life is that God meant for it to be reproduced.
This reproduction happens in several ways, whether it’s the planting seeds in the ground, giving birth to a child, or the seed of the Gospel being planted in the hearts of people so that Christ can reproduce a new believer, i.e you must be born again.
All that God breathes life into should have the capacity to reproduce. This is what we see in the scriptures.
Accordingly, we sow seeds of the Gospel to raise up new disciples who continue to take that seed, cast it about, and watch God replicate the process all over again.
In this passage we also see Jesus doing the very thing I just spoke about.
He is training his disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of God and we get a grass roots level look at how Jesus molded his disciples to go out before him spreading the word.
Specifically, at this point in ministry Jesus is headed towards Jerusalem to be crucified but before that happens he sends this group to many towns to preach the kingdom.
We see Jesus give some instruction to the disciples about how to get this task done and this is what we want to do with Christ Our Hope, as should any Christian.
After all, we are continuing the great commission and spreading the message about our King.
This passage of scripture helps to ground us in the reality of what it takes to spread the message of Christ.
If Jesus gave specific instructions about the work of the Kingdom then we must also consider what the work of the kingdom requires.
Here’s what the text points out:
Kingdom work requires labor.
Kingdom work requires instruction.
Kingdom work may be rejected.
As we labor in the work of his Kingdom these are points that we must always consider.
Jesus, being the faithful disciple maker, he did not send those who followed him out on wild goose chases saying make it up as you go.
He demonstrated specific actions, gave examples, and sent the disciples out to do as they had seen him do on many occasions.
Jesus even had specific instructions from the father and he said he only did what he saw the father do himself.
So we seek to emulate that and the scriptures give us the basis by which we establish how we do the work Jesus has called us to.
Luke 10: 1-2
1. Kingdom work requires labor.
1. Kingdom work requires labor.
The first thing we need to highlight is that Jesus is talking to Laborers. Now, Laborer assumes one whose time has been brought with a price to do some work.
Labor itself means physical or mental exertion, especially when difficult or exhausting work.
This isn’t a word that often brings great joy, we call it hard labor and giving birth is labor but there is a harvest and laborers are needed for it.
The Lord appointed 72 disciples. This shows us that while Jesus had the 12 there were many more that followed his ministry that he would use to spread the Kingdom.
Jesus used a lot of farming analogies to help people relate to his teaching. They understood what it meant to harvest.
And the harvest was the hardest and most labor-intensive part of the work, but where there are no laborers, you can’t expect a great harvest.
The ministry of Jesus was always meant to add more to the fold to continue the work.
Jesus is like the contractor who bids out a job:
From initial planning to final cleanup, contractors manage workflow like conductors manage orchestras. They understand the structure of the composition, they cue different players when it's their turn to take the lead, and they probably have experience with at least a few tools of the trade. If you've done your homework and hired well, your general contractor will keep the work flowing and the crews busy throughout the entire course of the project. (How stuff works.com)
After telling them where they would go and how much work there is Jesus tells the disciples to pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest
One commentary points Charles Spurgeon’s thoughts concerning the words “send out”:
“Now the Greek is much more forcible, it is that he would push them forward, and thrust them out; it is the same word which is used for the expulsion of a devil from a man possessed. It takes great power to drive a devil out, it will need equal power from God to drive a minister out to the work.”
This is a supernatural work in which we should be dependent upon God through prayer.
I always reiterate this and we have sought to build Christ Our Hope on the Cornerstone of Christ and a foundation of prayer.
And not only does this work demand prayer, but this is also work that we can’t do alone.
Jesus is sending out multiple disciples and considering this, we too should be looking around, lifting up our eyes to see the harvest field, because it is ripe and ready.
Our prayer for the Christ Our Hope is for the Lord thrust us out into the harvest and bring more laborers to come along side us as we minister as a church in our neighborhood and the City of Flint at large.
We are praying that while we are working the Lord sends more. You ever had that experience where you were working very hard and then someone came along to lighten the load and help how much more could you get done.
So we are working on opportunities to serve, whether that’s prayer walks, volunteering at the shelter, tending to to the fatherless through mentoring, etc, etc.
As we put our hands to the plow, as we work in the city we are be praying for the Lord to add more laborers to the harvest.
And as they are added we will teach and disciple them as Jesus did.
Read Verse 3-9
2. Kingdom work requires instruction.
2. Kingdom work requires instruction.
He gave them 5 things they were to do.
A. Jesus told them I am sending you out as lambs amongst wolves. He told them how to think about themselves while doing the work.
Jesus said I am sending you out as Lambs among wolves. Now who wants to go out being likened unto a lamb, you know what wolves to them lambs don’t you. They get turned into Lamb chops!
Now the disciples had seen the acts of Jesus up to this point; they saw his mannerisms amongst the people and with his opponents.
Jesus was gentle, but firm. We can see the contrast when he dealt with religious hypocrites’ vs the lost.
Jesus knew the hearts of humanity perfectly, so he always had the perfect response and I believe it wise for us to always try to strike a chord of uncompromising gentleness.
Paul instructed the Colossians in Chapter 4:
5 Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.
We are not trying to be spiritual bullies seeking to convert by force and coercion and we will see why in a little bit.
The disciples were instructed to handle themselves in the same manner as Jesus, wise as serpents but harmless as doves.
We must exercise this wisdom because we have opponents who would seek to malign the faith and the one, we believe in.
We have specific issues that we’ll have to deal with and many ideas and beliefs to oppose but whatever it is, in our encounters with people, Jesus wants us to deal with them gently and mildly, never sacrificing the truth but addressing them with a gracious tone. Like Paul said let your speech be gracious seasoned with salt. Not cayenne pepper.
We can go forth in the name of the Lord not fearing the wolves but like Christ seeking to be gentle and meek as we engaged our opponents.
B. They were told not to take extra provisions; this would not be an extensive trip, but nevertheless who does not like to leave the house prepared.
They would have to trust in God as they would be leaving without the basic provisions that they would normally keep on a journey.
We depend on the Lord of the Harvest, primarily, and not any strategy. And if you knew our story it’s the Lord that has been keeping us. Since 2012 we have been at this!
Even with Christ Our Hope we started with nothing and God has provided!
C. He told them not to great anybody on the road. This shows that Jesus did not want them to lose focus or get distracted while on mission.
Greeting people is not a bad thing but Jesus let them know that the urgency of the mission is more important than stopping along the way to greet people on the road.
Customs from this time for greetings was more than just a high and by, often people would implore travelers to stay in their house and get a bite to eat, this would cause time to be wasted.
How many times y’all parents gave y’all some money and said go straight to the store and come straight back, they did not want you to be distracted.
One of the things I have learned is the benefit of an established mission and vision. We don’t want to drift away and get distracted from what Jesus directed us to do.
D. When they arrived at their destinations they were to stop and enter the homes of others and if there was peace and no hostilities from the hosts they were to stay and minister from that spot, not going from one place to another.
The wages were the simple things they were given like room and board. I’m quite sure people gave offerings as well but Jesus did not send people out to get rich and make a profit off of preaching the message.
That is not the pattern that gives us.
E. Their message was simple, Jesus told them to heal the sick and preach the word saying the Kingdom of God has come near you.
One commentary spoke of how the ability to heal the sick showed that the Kingdom comes with power exhibited by acts of mercy and kindness.
The author would go on to say, “It may be that the remarkable display of God’s power in the work of the seventy was meant to prepare people for the ultimate revelation of God’s power and kingdom in the soon death and resurrection of Jesus.”
He has sent us out to do good works and proclaim the Kingdom message. The two go hand in hand.
So, in our endeavors we will be looking for the opportunity to pray for people and meet the physical needs of people.
I say that because some of the barriers faced in the city are high poverty and crime rates, imprisonment, and hurting families.
So while we out here doing the work we want to be careful to honor the needs of the people.
Overall, we want to be a church that is known for proclaiming the good news expecting the power of God to work in the hearts of the people bringing them to salvation.
We want to be a Church exalts Christ as our only hope in a fallen world.
There are many places in Flint where hope is lacking, and we want to introduce Christ to these hopeless situations.
With that being said our work and message won’t always be accepted.
3. Kingdom work may be rejected.
3. Kingdom work may be rejected.
Jesus is pretty explicit in what will happen to those areas in which his message was not received.
He actually lived in Capernaum which is why he is saying they would have a harsher judgment than some of those other cities.
He did many works in these cities yet they many there were still obstinate and not accepting his message.
This just goes to show the extent of our blindness. Many of think if Jesus was preaching right now we’d line up to hear him, but these people were no different than us.
He told the disciples to wipe the dust off your feet and let them know the Kingdom of God has come near you. This was witness against them.
Let’s look at an example of this in the book of Acts:
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and honored the word of the Lord, and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the prominent God-fearing women and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district. 51 But Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
He simply wants for us to move on to the next place, why because there is plenty of work to be done, there is plenty of ground to be covered.
He did not tell the disciples to give them a piece of your mind; ya’ll know we like to do that when we get mad at folks. Even if we preaching Jesus.
Remember we are to always be gracious and I’m not discounting a hard word our problem is often times we don’t know when to go hard and when to ease up.
24 The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, 25 instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. 26 Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
When the message is not received it isn’t time to challenge people to put your dukes up, it is time to graciously move on and keep praying for them to be saved.
Y’all there will be some who won’t hear the message, but we will be faithful to keep preaching the Gospel trusting God for the increase.
In our hearts sometimes we can feel some sort of way when people reject the message that we have, but the Lord does not want us to take it personally.
We can do that because as Jesus says in verse 16 as I close:
16 Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
We are merely laborers at work in the Lords harvest. It is not our harvest, it is not our responsibility. It is all his.
So, when people don’t accept the truth we know that they are not rejecting us they are rejecting God.
They are not rejecting us they are rejecting the Lord that died and was resurrected so that they may be saved.
Jesus was on his way to the Cross when he gave these guidelines and instructions.
We see how Jesus was at work in all these areas, he prayed to God and chose his disciples, they became the first laborers.
He taught and lead by example showing them what to do, and lastly he was rejected by the masses.
This is what we do today. Jesus sends us out to proclaim his name letting the masses know the King has come, was crucified, suffered the wrath of God in your place, and was raised in glory.
Now he invites you into his kingdom.
Then he was going to his death, and now he is coming back to claim what is his.
This is why we started Christ Our Hope, we want to advance on the kingdom of darkness by the power of God.
We want to see people rescued from the oppression of Satan by the power of the Gospel, making disciples out if men and women preparing them to duplicate the process.
Churches are started because faithful disciple making will produce more missionaries to be thrust out into the harvest, which will lead to greater reach of the Gospel.
Churches are started because God wants his message spread to the ends of the earth, and he raises up laborers to do it.
We have been brought by a price and with that purchase God not only saves us from his wrath but he makes us workers in his harvest of souls.
So that more people can be saved.
For those of us who know him we can be forgiven for the times in which we did not approach the work according to his instruction.
We may have lost our zeal, been fearful of rejection, or just preferred our comfort over the labor it takes to spread the his word.
He loves us and wants us to become better and more bold at his work. When he hires us he doesn’t fire us, but he will put us on a remedial program PIP personal improvement plan-discipline and correction.
For those who don’t know him in here today. We are his workman seeking to walk, explain, and love you just as he sent workers to do with us so we could hear the Gospel, understand our need for a savior, and be saved.
Jesus has not come to condemn you he has come to give you life.
If you don’t know him you are condemned already from the simple fact of being born in sin as a human being.
Your destination is already determined but the Gospel provides an exit ramp to salvation.
Don’t be one of those we reject the message and face the eternal judge being covered in nothing but your sin.
Believe in accomplished the work of salvation by his death burial and resurrection so that your sins may be forgiven and you can be saved from the wrath of God.
That is our message and we are sent out because Jesus was sent out.
And we are thankful for that.