THE 4TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST AD 2019
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy- two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, Peace be to this house! 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. 7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near. 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. 13 Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.
16 The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me. 17 The seventy- two returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name! 18 And he said to them, I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
Eight short days from now I think I might get to breathe - a long deep breath, I hope. Yes, things have been a little busy of late. I had the Monkton/Logan vacancy, and then, I was asked to be the vacancy pastor for the Maritimes Mission at the same time, then came the invitation to go and speak in the Ukraine, the week before we had planned to take our youth to the Higher Things Conference in Chicago. This was all followed by a last minute request to write an article for the Canadian Lutheran. All of this, while trying to stay on top of my regular pastoral duties. I must confess that the thought did cross my mind, “Is there no one else who can do some of this stuff other than the guy who had the stroke?”
The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. Yes, the Church knows all about a lot of work that needs to be done, without many people to do it. There is a plentiful harvest … a harvest of great value … a harvest that could go to waste if nobody goes out to gather it. How many are the souls of this world that are ripe for the harvest of God’s grace? You don’t have to look far to see them. They are all around us, so many people who do not know the depths of God’s love for them, who are living in bondage to sin, who are under the curse of death.
They are valuable beyond imagining. You only have to look at what God was willing to pay for them to see how precious they were to Him. He was willing to pay no less than His only begotten Son to purchase them. You only have to look at the cross to see how valuable they were to God. The Son of God suffering and dying that they might be saved from sin and death. The Son of God suffering and dying that they might have eternal life in His name. No price paid for anything in this world can compare to that.
If price has anything to do with value, surely then each soul, each human being, no matter how small, no matter how lowly, including you and me, is this world’s greatest treasure. Knowing that, we can understand Jesus a little better, as He looks out and sees all the precious lives that are ripe for harvesting. We can understand His heart for this harvest a little better - His deepest desire that not one be lost. We can perhaps hear Him a little better, as looking out over the world He speaks these longing filled words to His disciples, “the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few.”
Now the Lord certainly could carry out this harvest all by Himself, and a whole lot better without a poor miserable sinner like me. But wonderfully, the Lord wants to make His people a part of this harvest as well. He wants to give them the great privilege and joy of being a part of this incredible work in the world. He has united them to Himself after all, so that they can share in His life and His work. He wants His love to be their love … His joy to be their joy … His labour to be their labour.
The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. Yes, there is a harvest of souls out there, beyond value, that is at risk of all going to waste. The fear that it might go to waste … the fear that some of it might be lost … the fear that it might rot there right in the field should move us to act, to speak, to pray that none should go to waste. But it’s not so easy is it, beloved? We all know of those that we should reach out to, that we should speak to, that we should pray for, but the whole thing can seem so overwhelming.
The powers lined up against us seem so strong and seem to be growing stronger all the time, as the world continues to seal its deal with the devil by shutting its ears to the Lord and His Word. The strong man has an iron grip on so many as they hold fast to him. Of course he’d love for us to believe that, so that we’d wipe the dust of this world off our feet before we’d even speak, because the lost would then remain lost. We mustn’t forget, beloved, that the Lord Jesus has bound the strong man with His cross. Sadly, many will be lost, but we need to hear the Lord today, that there is also a great harvest that is waiting for His Word.
There is great waste going on all around us, terrible and tragic loss, the harvest is rotting in the fields. I know, beloved, how hard it can be to put yourself out there. I know how inadequate you can feel, how overwhelming and scary the whole thing can be. I lived it out just a little over a week ago on the edge of the Black Sea. So often I feel so small, so unfit, so unprepared for the great task given me. But the Lord in His mercy draws my eyes away from poor miserable me to the One who has promised to be at work in me. He draws my eyes back to Jesus and in Jesus all begins to flow and the Lord blesses His people, even through the likes of me.
Yes, there is a great harvest but it is not our harvest. It is the Lord’s harvest and He is the One who has promised to be at work in the harvesters to gather it in. The Church, her pastors and her people never speak on their own behalf … never go out in their own authority … never operate under their own power. The Lord Himself is the One who has promised to be in them to speak His word. The Labour is not ours, it is the Lord’s. He has invited us into His labour but He is the One who will be at work in us to do it. The labour is never about us. It is all about Jesus. The task only seems impossible, when we believe that it’s all up to us to do it. The work only gets done when the many work through the One.
The Lord Jesus comes to us this morning to deepen our understanding of this truth. He comes to live out in our lives the very grace and mercy that He wants to carry out through us into the world. He comes to forgive us that He might spread that forgiveness through us to a world lost in sin and death. He proclaims Good News to us, so that He might spread that Good News through us to a world locked in fear and despair. He comes to gather us into the arms of His mercy, so that through us He might gather others into His grace. He harvests us here, so that He might harvest others through us out there. The Lord Jesus comes to us in His flesh and blood, so that we might not doubt but believe, that He is in us … that He has drawn us into His life … into His love … into His work in the world.
“The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few.” They are Jesus’ longing filled words for the world. Yes, it is a scary thing for poor sinners to be a part of the mission of that longing heart. I know it all too well, but Jesus calls out to each of us today, drawing our eyes to Him, that He might still our troubled hearts in the truth that it is never about us, beloved, but only and always about Him. Amen.