“The Harvest is Plentiful, but the Laborers are Few”

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

7 July 2019

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

The Rush United Methodist Church

 

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20  (http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=429328360)

 

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.

Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’

“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

 

Prayer.

 

Peace to this house!

 

Well, that was easy.

My work here is done.

 

Well, not quite yet.

 

Peace to this house.

My peace I give to you.

When I give to you my peace

I do so without assessment or judgment.

 

Your past?

It’s over.

We’re good.

I mean it: we are good!

This is a day of new beginnings!

 

Your present?

Christ sends his disciples to cure the sick.

No need to travel this road alone.

There’s strength in numbers.

Let’s travel this journey together towards healing.

 

Your future?

The harvest is plentiful and

It’s up to us to get the job done.

It’s up to you and me to

Get the job done right, on time, and under budget.

This tells me

Jesus is looking for perfectionists, passionate leaders, and exceptional stewards!

 

Jesus gives us a laundry list of things that just has to get done.

Men, stop your whining and step up.

Women, follow the example of Mary from Magdala, the first to witness to the fact of Christ’s resurrection.

Young and old: It’s time to roll up the sleeves and get to work!

 

In case you hadn’t noticed,

People aren’t passively coming to Jesus.

Walk in traffic isn’t going to cut it in tomorrow’s Church.

Prevent defense leads to failure.

Jesus is looking for a full court press.

 

I may be naive,

Being the new kid in town, and all,

But I’m pretty certain that there are more than a couple hundred people in Rush, Henrietta, and the surrounding communities

That need healing,

That are seeking peace in their lives,

Who long for evil to be defeated and

For the world to be transformed.

 

Am I right?

 

Peace to this house!

Peace is an absolute confidence in God’s abiding presence to be shared with others.

The sick are healed when God is present!

Satan, demons, and all the evil powers of this world are cast out Like a flash of lightning, (10:18)

By the presence and power of God!

 

When you and I bring peace to another

We are offering them the healing, loving, redeeming, saving presence of God.

We are called to extend peace

Knowing full well

That our peace first comes from God,

That our peace isn’t diminished when we share peace with others.

 

The Lord supplies peace faster than we can give it away.

 

The absence of peace in our church, in our land, and in our world tells me

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

There is much work to do.

 

Challenge number one:

In everything you think, say, and do the days ahead

Make an intentional effort

To be the peace,

To bring the peace,

To breath the peace

That allows our relationships in the world to be healed.

 

If you’re not first bringing peace,

You’re not doing it right.

 

 

By this, the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke,

Business is booming!

 

Jesus’ first wave of disciples sent into the countryside

Resulted in outstanding success.

In chapter nine,

Jesus called twelve together,

Gave them power and authority

Over all demons,

To cure all diseases, and

To proclaim the kingdom of God. (9:1-2)

 

The results would have led

The sales and marketing team to throw a party.

The press would have taken notice.

It may not have made the front page

In The New York Times

But the reports would have made page one of the B section:

“They departed and went through the villages,

bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.” (9:6)

 

Jesus’ traveling salvation show was multiplying in spades.

Boom!

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

 

‘Go big, or go home,’ I’ve often heard say.

It worked for twelve,

Jesus probably thought.

Lets scale this ministry, for

The harvest is plentiful.

Let’s try 35 pairs of two.

Do the math;

Yes, that’s 70.

 

No, we are not going to ask for volunteers.

No need for resumes,

Because, quite frankly,

Education, certification, qualifications, and compensation history don’t even interest Jesus.

The Gospel is full of such examples

Where Jesus calls the least expected and

Appoints them to complete his greatest tasks.

 

The key word here?

Appoint.

Jesus is going to call you, convict you, and appoint you!

“The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them,” the Gospel reports. (10:1)

 

You know the 80/20 rule of local churches?

20 percent of the people show up and step up to mission, ministry, and discipleship.

The fact that you’re here this morning tells me

You’re all probably twenty percenters.

Don’t fret over the 80 percenters who decide to sleep in on Sundays;

Rest assured

God has a plan for them, too.

 

You and me; we’re the ones called, convicted, and appointed.

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

 

Let’s pause for a moment to bask in the sunshine

Of God’s grace and love,

Taking pride that Jesus has specifically chosen

You and me,

Yes, you and me,

To proclaim peace,

Heal and cast out demons,

To gather in the harvest, and

Bring near the kingdom of God.

 

Okay.

Time’s up.

 

 

Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

 

Jesus knows the job at hand for his appointed disciples

Is going to be rough and tumble.

“I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves,” (10:3)

Jesus instructs with transparent honesty.

 

Jesus himself knew how difficult ministry would be;

A Samaritan village refused to receive him, (9:51-56)

Simply because his final destination was Jerusalem

And not their village.

Rejected, Jesus and his disciples simply moved on.

No, he wasn’t going to rain down fire and smote them,

As his disciples eagerly suggested.

The days of Sodom and Gomorrah long since had passed.

They simply shook the dust off their feet and moved on towards Jerusalem.

 

We all know what happened to Jesus in Jerusalem.

The cross of Calvary confirms the fact that

Jesus knows the pain and suffering of rejection.

The going is going to get rough.

Are we prepared to climb onto the cross with Jesus and to die with him?

 

Wolves eat lambs all the time.

The work of discipleship is life or death.

Such is the struggle to bring people to Jesus

And to overcome the evil that enslaves the people, systems, and communities of our world.

 

Politics, hubris, and power is life or death.

Poverty, injustice, homelessness, and malnutrition is a struggle between life or death.

Refugees, immigrants, and people who long to be free

Risk it all.

 

The mission, ministry, and the call of discipleship

Is life or death.

Such is the struggle

to bring peace and the presence of God to the world

for the transformation of the world.

 

Do not underestimate the power of the enemy, Jesus warns.

You’ll be rejected;

Move on.

Rejection may be the least of your worries.

 

You and I are being sent to dangerous places; so

Place your trust in God and in the hospitality of the host God provides.

We’ve been given power and authority over the enemy;

“Nothing will hurt you,” Jesus promises. (10:20)

 

Nothing will hurt you.

Not even death will hurt you,

Such is the witness of an empty tomb.

 

Be confident our labors,

Difficult as they may be,

Are bringing near the Kingdom of God.

 

 

Dearly beloved members and friends of Rush

Peace to this house!

I am so excited to begin this journey with you.

 

We’re the nuevo seventy,

The present age, new seventy,

Appointed to

First, proclaim peace, to

Bring healing to a broken world, to

Wield authority over all the power of the enemy, to

Bring near the Kingdom of God.

 

Let’s get to work!

Amen.

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