Pray the Lord to send out labourers into his harvest
What kind of harvest does the Lord want us to reap today for his kingdom? When Jesus commissioned seventy of his disciples to go on mission, he gave them a vision of a vast field that is ready to be harvested for the kingdom of God. Jesus frequently used the image of a harvest to convey the coming of God's reign on earth. The harvest is the frui-tion of much labour and growth - beginning with the sowing of seeds, then growth to ma-turity, and finally the reaping of fruit for the harvest.
God's word grows like a seed within us - In like manner, the word of God is sown in the hearts of receptive men and women who hear his word, accept it with trust and obe-dience, and then share the abundant fruit of God's word in their life with others. The har-vest Jesus had in mind was not only the gathering in of the people of Israel, but all the peoples (and nations) of the world. John the Evangelist tells us that "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Be a sower of God's word of peace and mercy - What does Jesus mean when he says his disciples must be "lambs in the midst of wolves"? The prophet Isaiah foretold a time when wolves and lambs will dwell in peace (Isaiah 11:6 and 65:25). This certainly refers to the second coming of the Lord Jesus when all will be united under the Lordship of Jesus after he has put down his enemies and established the reign of God over the heavens and the earth. In the meantime, the disciples must expect opposition and persecution from those who would oppose the Gos-pel. Jesus came to lay down his life for us, as our sacrificial lamb, to atone for our sins and the sins of the world. We, in turn, must be willing to offer our lives with gratitude and humble service for our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are called to speak and witness in God's name - What is the significance of Jesus appointing seventy disciples to the ministry of the word? Seventy was a significant number in biblical times. Moses chose seventy elders to help him in the task of leading the people through the wilderness. The Jewish Sanhedrin, the governing council for the nation of
Israel, was composed of seventy members. In Jesus' times seventy was held to be the number of nations throughout the world. Jesus commissioned the seventy to a two-fold task - to speak in his name and to act with his power.
Jesus gave his disciples instructions for how they were to carry out their ministry. They must go and serve as people with-out guile, full of charity (selfless giving in love) and peace, and simplicity. They must give their full attention to the procla-mation of God's kingdom and not be diverted by other lesser things. They must travel light - only take what was essential and leave behind whatever would distract them - in order to concentrate on the task of speaking the word of the God. They must do their work, not for what they can get out of it, but for what they can give freely to others, without expecting reward or payment. "Poverty of spirit" frees us from greed and preoccupation with possessions and makes ample room for God’s provision. The Lord Jesus wants his disciples to be dependent on him and not on themselves.
Jesus ends his instructions with a warning: If people reject God’s invitation and refuse his word, then they bring condem-nation on themselves. When God gives us his word there comes with it the great responsibility to respond. Indifference will not do. We are either for or against God in how we respond to his word.
Don Schwager, www.dailyscripture.net