(Continued from Feb/March 2012 issue)
By Rev. Dr. Bob Tice
(3)“Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out (thrust out) laborers into his harvest.’”
Notice the words of Jesus indicate that the greatest challenge of world ministry is not the harvest, but rather the harvesters themselves. Jesus says the harvest “is plentiful.” The word “plentiful” here means very full and manifold. The harvest is huge and God-assured! We bemoan far too much that people are not open. While this can be true, based on this Scripture there is always an abundant harvest awaiting willing workers. We have met the enemy, and the enemy in mission… is us!
This is why we never find an instance in Paul’s letters where he asks his readers to pray for the unsaved. As the great apostolic missionary to the gentile world, Paul repeatedly asks that they pray for him. For Paul, the harvest is the lesser of the two challenges: Paul knew he had a harvest!
This is also why Jesus says, “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to thrust out laborers into his harvest.” Harvest eyes will notice two things here. First, despite a harvest waiting for workers, Jesus does not say, “So guys, just dive right into those fields!” Rather he says, “Therefore pray.” Pray first, because communion must always precede commission. Prayer is our declaration of dependence. This is why it is translated in places as, “Supplicate the Lord of the harvest.” Supply, oh Lord! We need you, Lord!
Second, harvest eyes will see the words “thrust out” (some translations have “send out”), which mean in the original language “to cast out” or “to vigorously thrust something out with a mighty force.” Part of the original word in Greek sounds like our English word “ballistic.” Of the seventeen other times Matthew uses this word, thirteen of them refer to the casting out of a demon! What must Jesus be telling us when the very same action needed to cast out a demon is needed to move us to ministry!? Oh, may it not be true that believers are as hunkered down in the comfort of their own salvation as ungodly demons are dug-in to those they possess! If we are to be numerous enough to meet the awaiting harvest, then there must arise from within the church a spiritually violent heart-cry. The church must cry out in passionate prayer… to go ballistic!
(4) Reproduce the Jesus in Yourself in Others, to Multiply the Harvest Brought in (10:1-2, 5):
“Then Jesus called his twelve disciples to him, and he gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these. …And these twelve Jesus sent out” (10:1-2, 5).
Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “The harvest is so big that I’m going to knock myself out and get all the glory for myself.” Rather, his plan for expansion is one of reproducing himself in others and then releasing others into God’s Kingdom. Remember! The harvest is huge, and it demands believers who understand there must be a huge army of harvesters. This requires believers and churches who call and raise up others (10:1a, 2); give these others true authority (10:1); equip them to send them out (10:5-42); plant new churches; and above all, walk in an attitude of humility, cooperation, team-building, broad apostolic vision, and unity in Christ.
This applies to every truly committed believer in God’s church, not just to its prominent leaders (and certainly not only to an isolated few at the top). Every believer can nurture and develop somebody else—a Sunday school child, a younger brother or sister in Christ, a struggling friend. In fact, those who have already become true harvest people usually have done so because they have been able to follow a worthy model and are always striving to return the favor with someone else.
Harvest people pass it on! And understand this: The “ripple-effect” can change the world!
Oh… for… harvest… eyes!
Rev. Dr. Bob Tice is Senior Pastor of RiverRock Church in Buffalo’s West Side. He holds a BS, Houghton College, MA, and ThM Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, CA) and DMin Northeastern Seminary (at Roberts Wesleyan College).