Thy Kingdom Come: Laborers Needed
First in a series of three
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our sermon text for today is Luke 10:1–20, Jesus sending out the seventy-two disciples.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Laborers needed. I remember a few years ago when our Mission Society was still active, that we had a gal in town here who needed help reroofing her house. It was getting towards fall, she had the funds to buy shingles, but she couldn’t do the labor, so she called her church. I remember saying “Yes,” putting the phone down. I leaned back in my chair and wondered how we would ever pull this off.
I went into Pastor Griffin’s office, he got ahold of one of our local contractors. We started coordinating, and then it got to be Saturday morning. Now, we had a few people signed up to help, but there was a lot of work to be done, and I remember, by about 8 in the morning, it was looking like there were going to be one or two handymen and two preachers up on that roof, and that wasn’t going to go well. I remember getting my church directory out, scanning down the names, beating the bushes, calling anyone under the age of 65 to ask if they would help.
Now, there are all kinds of stories I could tell about that day, but I remember getting to one man, a new member at the time, calling him and telling him how many laborers we needed, and asking him if he could help, and he, like many other people, said “Yes.” What was different about this man was that about five days later, he sends me a Thank You card in the mail, thank you for asking me to serve.
But the point is this: laborers were needed that day. In our text, Jesus says this, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his fields... in this end, he says this, “Rejoice not that the spirits submit to you but that your names are written in heaven.”
Today we consider the coming kingdom of heaven as Jesus sends out his people. Today we consider the calling of the 12 apostles a few chapters before, the sending of the 72 disciples in our text today, and the sending of the whole Christian church on earth into the harvest fields.
Three points for today, one thing to pray, one thing to know, and one reason to rejoice.
First, today, I would invite you to pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers. Did you notice that’s Jesus’s first command to the disciples here in our text? Pray!
Those he sent out that day began this journey – this remarkable journey with prayer. They were to pray earnestly that God because he is Lord, and they were to pray for the harvest because he’s the Lord of the Harvest. What is that harvest? In the end, it’s the day when Jesus comes back. In the meantime, it’s every victory of sin, death, and the devil that leads to repentance in the forgiveness of sins.
So, he says to those he sends out on this endeavor, pray. Begin your journey with prayer. And that’s no more the second commandment says. “Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. You should fear and love God so that you do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie or deceive in his name, but call upon him in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks. That’s every task, every day. Call upon him at every time.
So, I’ll tell you, your task wasn’t to go from town to town like these 72, but it is significant. And I’ll ask you, how did you begin your tasks today? Was it with the name of God, or was it with something less?
Second, know that he sends out you. It was easy to see that day. The disciples had a specific task for a set amount of time. They were told by Jesus what to do, where to God. It was easy to know that he sent them. Jesus endows them with power He gives them authority. He tells them that the one who rejects them rejects him. It was easy to know that he was sending them.
Now, your task isn’t to go from town to town like these 72, but it is significant.
Know that Jesus is the one who sends you. This church is like a mission outpost on a hill, seeking to connect broken people to their savior. Every church is like a little city set on a hill. Every person who makes up every church is send by his savior.
But the question is, sent to do what?
That day in our text, they were sent to prepare the way for Jesus to God. In our day, and this is Greg Finke language, I would submit that we are looking for what Jesus is already doing.
We are sent to see what Christ is doing to prepare hearts and minds in the lives of those around us. We are sent to let forgiveness and compassion flow over hurts and wrongs. We are sent to make all of the tasks of daily living full with the love of Christ.
The kingdom of heaven is like a man whose never been a missionary to a foreign land. He’s never set left home to go across the world. But. He does love his neighbor. He does care for the sick. He does have hospitality for the stranger. And when they ask him, why, he says, “Because of what Jesus has done for me.”
Third, Rejoice that your name is written in heaven. Jesus says this after the disciples have come back. They have seen with their eyes what their faith has always grasped in, and they are rejoicing to see the fruit of their labor right before their eyes. They got to command spirits, and they came out, command diseases and they were done... can you imagine what it would be like to hear your prayers answered immediately and with power!
And not only that, Jesus is rejoicing in this too. He exults that Satan is falling like lightning from heaven in this moment. He is happy alongside of them, but then he closes our text.
Rejoice that all the disciples did in their day was preparation so that Jesus Christ could be overcome by darkness. All that they did to bind Satan that day was so that Satan could have a field day with the Son of God. All that they did for others that day was so those others could gather as the crowd that would scream “Crucify him, Crucify him!” on Good Friday.
Rejoice in this: that the Son of God has overcome more than we can imagine in a way that we can hardly fathom. Rejoice in this, not so much in your strength, nor in your intellect, not even in the fact that when you pray, the Lord answers and even binds spirits in the name of Jesus. But rejoice that you are baptized and through simple water with God’s word, an act more precious than all of the disciples casting out all diseases happened. You were made a son and daughter of the Most High God.
Rejoice that every time you pronounce forgiveness to your neighbor, every time your pastor forgives you, with the ears of faith, you are hearing the chains of Satan fall away and people are set free.
The kingdom of heaven is like a large church in a small town where much can be done, every day. There are more opportunities to serve than there are people who can fill them. And faced with overwhelming need, that church rejoices. Rejoices that the mission they are sent on is from their Savior. Rejoices that they can spend their effort doing things of significant, that sometimes they see the end of. But mostly they rejoice that their names are written in the book of heaven.
Amen and amen.
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