Great Harvest, Few Laborers

Jesus refused to allow His followers to sit idle, even after they’d stumbled. There was work to do, and He commissioned them to do it. He sent out more than 70 disciples as we read at the opening portion of Luke 10.

This was done even after what we read in Luke 9. The Savior chided His chosen band for their faithlessness and their perversity as it related to the boy under demonic siege. He rebuked them for misguided attempts to demonstrate their privileges and authority regarding an outsider proclaiming Jesus’ Name and for their agitated call for a discourteous town to burn.

And yet these people were the Son’s main messengers. They delivered His invitation to life eternal and worked wonders as He empowered them.

This is what He had to work with. Did He need these guys? As the Lord Almighty, Maker of the heavens and the earth, He needed nothing. Right? This seems like a logical conclusion at which to arrive.

Yet I am convinced it’s the wrong conclusion.

There’s something deeper and wider at work, a mystery that brings us to both wonder and bewilderment. People had to be included in the work.

The Lord positioned Himself to be in need, in need of us, as strange as that sounds.

He did so because of the essence and necessity of love and loving. Minus the freedom of choice and the ability to respond, relationships exist under the forces of command and control. These things form all other rules of engagement related to religion.

Yahweh had something else in mind. He desired lives devoted to fellowship and exchange. Give and take was to characterize the expression of His life set loose in people.

The Lord instilled this reality in His realm through the nature of reproduction. Species were made diverse — two dimensions, the male and the female, were crafted to come together so that there would be more, more, more. In the lower forms of life, this procreation is made to happen via instinct. This was by design, and because such operations continue according to that design, there exists an ever-present testimony to the hand of God at work in our world.

Free to Agree or Disagree

The Lord gifted those beings situated higher in His created order with something more. That is, the ability to think, to reason, and to respond. The response mechanism rooted in real liberty included the capacity for refusal.

Yes, I have to say that God made space for agreement and also for disagreement.

These higher ones possess a liberty given according to the Creator’s good pleasure. Simply put, God wanted angels and humans to choose Him. Rather than pressurize them into conformity, He designed these created ones with a sense of self, and a spirit as part of their essence.

Among the angelic host, there was freedom. Lucifer occupied an amazing and most powerful position as an anointed cherub welcomed at the mountain of the Most High. He chose to seek an enhancement of his position. He become “I” centered as iniquity brewed within him. He stirred a rebellion that garnered a third of the host to his side. He could and he did enter into an attitude of anti-love. And he led others in it. He refused to live in contentment and fell like lightning from heaven as the father of lies and became a most murderous power.

Liberty is what love is all about. God is love, and love cannot flow if it is not exercised in freedom. Without freedom, there’s no exchange going on at all. Without freedom, all initiation is unidirectional and all reaction is preexistent and programmatic. It is domination, not relationship.

Can there be true joy in this manner of arrangement? Not really.

And so when it comes to the communication pattern for the spread of the Gospel, Jesus uses those who choose to draw near to Him.

Could He have had it any other way? I think not. Love is the issue and love involves the Lover and His beloved. Split that latter word into two — be loved. The Lord made it a point to use those who allowed themselves to “be loved.”

Still in the Work

As we have seen reading through Luke, this reality made for some messy moments. Yes, there were high points for sure, but the beauty of the Bible is that it tells the straight, unvarnished stories of a number of people.

We get words about David on how by faith and in the Name of the Lord, he slung a stone that put the giant on his face. We also get words about how this very same hero took a rooftop walk and wound up stealing a man’s wife for himself with a disastrous fall into sin.

“The harvest truly is great.” Jesus declared this. Nothing can change that. There are always going to be those in need of the Gospel.

“The laborers are few.” This is the other reality. God works with what He’s got.

These weak and often selfish followers were His workforce. They agreed with the Truth of His Person. He knew this and understood perfectly. Their faith lacked luster for sure, the evidence of this is there for us to read. The maturity process was going to be a bumpy one — both for the truly human Son and for His followers.

These disciples experienced defeat, but the Lord would not bench them. The harvest remained. The reapers were needed. Despite their still developing capacities, Jesus got them back on the field. Click To Tweet

These disciples experienced defeat, but the Lord would not bench them. The harvest remained. The reapers were needed. Despite their still developing capacities, Jesus got them back on the field.

Go and tell the cities and towns that the Son has come, they were instructed. Announce the Peace with God that is now available. Some will receive this Peace, others will not.

Those sent out were to make themselves at home with those who received the Message. Eat and drink, share the table with such as these. Believers become family at once, do they not? Heal the sick. Announce the arrival of the Kingdom of God.

The Lord’s Day Shall Come

Not all doors will open, Jesus warned. Rejection was nothing new to Him. They were not to take this personally. Rather, the disciples were told to move along from those who refused to listen. Wipe away the dust of such places. Their day of judgment will come just as it came to Sodom.

Sodom did get a witness, albeit a rather weak one in Lot, the nephew of Abraham. Let’s not forget that Lot and his family were related to the one called the father of faith and the friend of the Most High.

Lot may have struggled to project his faith to the townspeople, and to his family. Still,  the fires from heaven fell upon the immoral scoffers of Sodom as Lot and his daughters and wife were pulled clear of the devastation.

Sure, the Genesis account does reveal Lot’s spirituality as something less than fervent. However, Peter writes of this man as a righteous one who was “vexed” over the wickedness that he saw around him (see 2 Peter 2:7-8). Lot’s flickering faith was alive enough so that he recognized heaven’s messengers when they came to visit the city and rescue him.

Peter understood better than most the trials of our faith. He faltered more than a few times. He denied the Lord, and even punctuated the last denial with a curse. This disciple was the perfect writer to speak of Lot under the terms of the finished work of Christ. He understood the faithfulness of the love of God and according to this love he spoke of Lot.

Jesus told His laborers just enough about the judgment to come. He told them things to embolden them and to comfort them.

Those who turn their backs on the Message shall face God. The Day of the Lord will come — it will arrive suddenly as an amazing interruption to a world that snoozes passively under the blanket of the wicked one.

The harvest is here and now. We are the laborers Jesus seeks to use in the fields. Maybe we don’t have much going for us on the surface. But we have Him. He loves us and we love Him. We choose with purpose to hear Him and let others see Him at work through us.

Psalm 37:4 gives us the secret: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Seek contentment. And the best way to find contentment is to fill our minds with the thoughts from God’s Word and our hearts with the love that the Holy Spirit gives.

Rejoice in the Lord, and again we say rejoice.

 

 

 

Steve Andrulonis
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