8 May, 2014 Jonty Allcock
In Luke Chapter 10 Jesus describes Himself as “The Lord of the Harvest”. That is rich imagery. Here are four reasons that this is great news. Why not use these to thank Him now?
· God’s plan is a worldwide harvest – Jeremiah 2 says that Israel was only “the firstfruits of the harvest”. Isaiah 56 says that God will “gather still others besides those already gathered.”
· Jesus is the great Harvester – John the Baptist described Jesus as the One who would gather the wheat and burn the chaff.
· Jesus gathers the nations by His cross – He did not come to bring the fire of judgment but to face that fire Himself as He died. He rebuked His disciples when they suggested calling down fire. As He was lifted up He was being the Lord of the Harvest and “drawing all men to Himself” John 12:32
· The harvest is guaranteed – people from all nations gathered before His throne in worship – we have no reason to be pessimistic even if things are tough. Replace our despair with worship as we see the Lord of the Harvest
Here are six implications for the mission of the church from Luke 10
· He sends out workers – harvesting is back breaking work. If we feel tired then that is right. Of course we need time to rest, but we rest so that we can work. We must be ready to slog, ready to sweat, ready for the long haul. It is nothing more than the Lord of the Harvest did. He was willing to sweat drops of blood for us.
· We need to be risk takers – Jesus sends His guys out as lambs among wolves. That is not safe – our world is hostile to the gospel – we will all be tempted to step back and go for the safe option. But Jesus left the safety of heaven and was ripped apart by ravenous wolves. Perhaps we need to leave our safe place…
· Focus on people not organisations – Jesus sends out the seventy two to go and speak to people. To spend time, eat with, stay with people. No branding or website or structure or publicity just people. Organisations have their place but we will be tempted to major on them because people can be exhausting and disappointing. The work is never finished.
· We are not salesmen – we are sent out to announce the good news of the Kingdom. If we reduce it to a sales pitch we end up with a future focused version of the prosperity gospel. Jesus will forgive you and let you into heaven when you die. True. But the gospel is more than that. Jesus is King. He must be worshipped. We command people to repent. It is about God. Some will reject it and some will turn.
· Don’t get bogged down – In Luke 10 the workers have to keep moving. Don’t greet anyone on the road. Don’t get bogged down in long greetings. Don’t waste your time in fruitless activities. Look for where the harvest is. Look for where the fruit is. There are so many needs, so many good things we could get involved in. But they are not harvesting. They will distract and slow us down. Churches are in danger of grinding to a halt. Harvesting has got pushed out because maintaining the thing is taking all the time. We run things because we have always run them and even though they are not fruitful we keep doing them. We have to be more ruthless. Constantly moving forward. I realise that sometimes fruit comes after years of persisting and we need the wisdom to discern that. But sometimes we just need the courage to shake the dust off and move on. There is a judgement day coming. We do not have all the time in the world. Beware the bog.
· Don’t tie your joy to success – we are happy when the church is going well and depressed when it is rubbish. The seventy two have had an amzing start but tough days lie ahead. Jesus knows that and so gently shifts their joy to a firmer foundation. “Do not rejoice that spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Here is our ultimate reason for joy. Not in our success, but in the status Jesus has given us.