The Harvest Is Plentiful 1 - But The Workers Are Few
Updated: Jan 13
Chan Gin Kai
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.” (Luke 10:1-3)
As Jesus got closer to Jerusalem and his impending death, his urgency to reach out to as many as possible increased. He appointed and sent out 72 disciples “ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.” These were places he had planned to go, and he had sent the disciples ahead to prepare the way.
Similar to John the Baptist, their mission was to prepare the people for the arrival of Jesus. He is the Saviour; they are the heralds. And like the 72, our mission as Christians is to go out and get people’s hearts prepared for the arrival of Jesus – his Second Coming.
Jesus’ urgency is obvious in his description, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Imagine a huge orchard of mango trees, abundantly laden with luscious fruits, turned golden yellow as they ripen. The few workers harvest what they can, but many more mangoes are left on the branches. They soon get too ripe, drop to the ground, and decay. They get infested with worms, and the sweet aroma turns into a rotting stench. For me, a person who loves mangoes, this is an incredible waste.
Hearts that are ripe for the gospel and ready for Jesus are like delicious fruits. The transformation of their lives brings sweet rewards to all around them. But if these open hearts are not harvested after some time, they will eventually get corrupted and rot. Jesus cares for all of our hearts.
The problem is, most of us cannot see a plentiful harvest, but a barren desert with prickly cacti instead. Finding an open heart in a godless land can be tough and we sometimes get pricked with rude reactions and even persecutions. Where are the fruits that are ripe for the picking?
That is why we need to “ask the Lord of the harvest”. We pray that as God sends us out, He will guide us to open hearts. We also pray that He provides us with wisdom as we talk to people about Christ, and courage when we face rejections. God will equip us for the harvest, but are we willing to be sent out?
“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. When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. 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.’” (Luke 10:3-11)
Jesus went on to give the 72 some practical advice for their mission:
“Sending you out like lambs among wolves” – Jesus does not intend to make our mission sound like a bed of roses, and he highlighted the dangers. We may have innocent hearts and pure intentions, but we can be eaten up and corrupted by the world. We may meet people who mean us harm too. We have to be careful, and we must put our trust in our Shepherd, who will protect us.
“Do not take a purse or bag or sandals and do not greet anyone on the road” – This is not an instruction to be unprepared or lacking in courtesy. It is akin to an advice to ‘go light’, so that we don’t get overburdened by material concerns and distracted by unnecessary etiquette. What distracts us from our mission?
“If someone who promotes peace is there” – Jesus told the 72 to take up lodgings with people of good reputation. We should not work and partner with people of ill repute. Bad company can sully our reputation, making it harder for us to save others.
“When you enter a town and are welcomed” – To those who welcome God’s message, we will serve them and preach God’s word to them.
“But when you enter a town and are not welcomed” – To those who don’t welcome the gospel, we ‘sweep the dust off our feet’ (we’ve done all we can, and it is no longer our responsibility). We can walk away with a clear conscience after we’ve tried our best. But have we always done our best?
“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.” (Luke 10:13-16)
Jesus then went on to warn about people who reject his words. The Jewish cities Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum were compared to two neighbouring Gentile cities, Tyre and Sidon. He said the Gentile cities would have turned from their wickedness if they were given the same opportunities.
Jesus highlighted how ironic it was that God’s chosen people had refused God. They self-righteously believed they were following God, yet did not recognise that God was in their midst in the form of Jesus. We share the same danger too.
It is not only non-believers who have rejected Christ; we who profess to be Christians sometimes reject Jesus too. We may grow proud on the little bit of Bible we know and the little good that we’ve done. We stick stubbornly by our misconceptions of the Bible and arrogantly reject advice from people are trying to help us grow. We need to humble ourselves to God’s Word.
The harvest is plentiful and the workers are few. God cares for His people and many around us need to hear the gospel. Let’s go out into the harvest field.
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Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".