Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out laborers into his harvest field.” – Luke 10:2. When Christ speaks the words above, He is speaking of us, as the harvest, and the elders as laborers who were sent out to reap God’s harvest of precious souls.
According to Luke 10:1-11, Jesus commissioned 70 elders, sent them out two by two, in advance of His coming.
To equip them for the task, He gave them four special instructions:
1. Set out with prayer (Luke 10:2).
2. Set out expecting trouble (Luke 10:3).
3. Set out unencumbered by provisions (Luke 10:4).
4. Set out to show both your and God’s good will (Luke 10:5-10).
The success of the elders’ work depended upon the wisdom of those to be harvested. At this point, one should be asking oneself, “Will I be wise enough to accept a visit from one of God’s elders?”
The elders were to set out with prayer. Christ told them, “Pray to the Lord of the harvest” (Luke 10:2). This was to help them better see who the harvest was and who would be willing to receive Him when He came.
All are called to be Christ’s elders, not just pastors. As ministers, we are to pray for the compassion needed to discern who is to be a part of this important work. Ministers must have a deep and sincere concern for the precious souls who belong to the harvest.
Then the elders were to set out expecting trouble. Why? Because Jesus said, “I send you out as lambs among wolves.” Luke 10:3. Lambs are peaceable and patient, easy prey, and if it were not for the spirit of Christ’s power and courage, the elders would have become prey.
In the competitive world, employers don’t care how few workers there are. The fewer the better; it would mean more profit for them. But in the non-competitive kingdom, Christ’s chief concern is not the competitive but the limited number of workers to reap God’s harvest. All good ministers wish there were more good ministers to help with this work.
Then they were to set out unencumbered by provisions. Jesus gave the 70 elders the same instructions He gave the 12 disciples (Luke 9:3): “Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic…” But He added one more instruction here: “Do not greet anyone on the road.”
Good ministers know we must travel light and with haste, not letting ourselves be distracted by people who seek to waste our time. Great ministers understand how God’s business relates to eternity. They often ask themselves, “Will what I do today really matter a 100 years from now?” And if the answer is yes, then they know their actions are God’s business.
The elders were to set out to show both their and God’s good will. Often not admitted to the synagogues, Christ’s followers were forced to preach from house to house. And they were told whatever house they entered to show goodwill and say, “Peace be unto this house.” In fact, the common Jewish greeting was, “Peace be unto you.”
Christ carefully instructed them on peace, saying, “If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him; if not it will return to you.” (Luke 10:6). The quality of peace received was to determine the nature of the elders’ reception. If not peacefully well received, their peace was to return to them and they were told in that case to leave and shake the dust off their feet.
Through Christ, we are to propose peace to all, to preach peace to all, to proclaim the gospel of peace, maintain a countenance of peace and to bring peace on earth. And we are to invite all men, women and children to come to Christ and find inner peace.
As for those who are of peace, your peace shall find them out and rest upon them. Your prayers for them will be heard. Through you, the promises of the gospel will be confirmed to them, the privileges of the gospel conferred upon them. And this “Fruit of the Spirit” – peace –shall remain with them.
If you’re not already in God’s Harvest, it would be wise to become part of it today.
*The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org