From "Went" to "Sent"

The Jesus Mission - Part 2


Text: "Then [Jesus] said to His disciples, The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.'" (Matt. 9:37-38). "These twelve Jesus sent out" (Matt. 10:5a).

Thought: We have been watching Jesus in action and on mission in Israel, and this text gives us a pattern to follow and principles to apply as we are on mission with Jesus today by the power of the Holy Spirit. We have seen already that, to be fully involved in Jesus' mission today: 1) we must grasp the nature of Jesus' ministry (verse 35), and 2) we need to share the depth of Jesus' compassion (verse 36a). Now, we move on in our consideration of this historical and instructive text.

III. We Must Respond to the Accuracy of Jesus' Vision (9:37)
"Then [Jesus] said to His disciples, The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.'" As Jesus assesses the crowd, He makes this simple and clear statement. This statement is not just a sociological description of what He sees, His statement is a missional vision that He is passing on to His disciples. Jesus is referring to the great and urgent opportunity for harvesting. He is speaking of kingdom harvesting, not judgment.

The task of harvesting "souls," the task of kingdom ministry and mission is what Jesus is actually doing in these verses and throughout the Gospels. Jesus is describing harvesting as a big task due to the great need and the small number of people involved. Jesus is also describing the harvest positively since anyone involved in harvesting would want a "plentiful" harvest. What a great expectation!

At the same time, Jesus is contrasting the great opportunity with the small number of workers. This clearly points to the need for more to be involved in this divine mission. In summary, the opportunity and urgency for a plentiful kingdom harvest is now, but more workers are needed because "the laborers are few." This is the vision that Jesus sees and presents that calls for response.

IV. We Must Join in the Completion of Jesus' Mission (9:38, 10:5a)
"Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His Harvest.' These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them." Having presented the vision of a plentiful harvest and the need for workers, Jesus gives instructions to His disciples. But, instead of calling for all His disciples to get to the harvest immediately, Jesus calls for prayer.

1) Pray Earnestly. Notice that prayer is not an optional response, but the duty of the disciple. The prayer is to be offered to the Lord of the harvest. It is the Lord's harvest and He is sovereign over the sending out of the laborers. So, prayer must be offered to the Lord to direct in the harvesting of His own harvest. The laborers are to be sent out by the Lord Himself. How this directive from the Lord should challenge us to pray fervently and continually for the mission of Jesus to be fulfilled today! And this will involve the Lord sending out more workers in our day. The important lesson for us to remember is that those who go out to labor must first be sent, and the laborers need to be sent by the Lord in the light of our prayers.

2) Expect Confidently (10:1-5a). It must be our expectation that the Lord will indeed answer the earnest prayer for laborers to be sent into the harvest. In our text the Lord calls His twelve disciples together. He gives them power, and He sends them out on a mission to the "house of Israel" with very specific instructions. Jesus is choosing the laborers for this specific mission, and Jesus continues to choose laborers in our own day. We must confidently expect that the Jesus Mission continues in our day, which means that Jesus still sends out workers today. So, we must be prayerful, and we must also be open to the Lord's call if the Lord calls us into service. 

When we consider the words of the "Great Mission" (Matt. 28:18-20) and other words of commission and mission by Jesus, we are all called into His mission work today. Not all will be called to go overseas or to cross-cultural mission, but all are called to "make disciples."

Thrust: By the power of His Holy Spirit, we need to continue the Jesus Mission today.

David L. Olford teaches expository preaching at Union University's Stephen Olford Center in Memphis, Tennessee.

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