Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. – Matthew 9:37-38
Jesus believed that there were multitudes of people who were lost without Him. Have you come to such a realization? If not, you must realize how desperate the multitudes are for you to take the message of the gospel to them! You must acknowledge the evangelistic reality that people are lost without Jesus, and that we are called to reach them with the gospel. If you are ready to acknowledge the evangelistic reality that the harvest is plenteous, then you must now accept your evangelistic responsibility.
Your evangelistic responsibility is to recognize your responsibility as a worker in evangelism. You are responsible to reach the people of your community with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The sad truth is that there are few who have recognized and accepted their responsibility to evangelism by sharing their faith in the gospel. The question before us in this passage is not, “Will the Lord send laborers?” The question is, “Will the laborers go?” It is not a matter of whether or not these people will be called or commissioned, but whether or not the Lord will have the pleasure of “sending them off” into the harvest. In the parable of the householder in Matthew 20, the householder owned a vineyard and was in need of workers to reap the harvest. He sought out and found idle workers standing in the marketplace. Instead of doing their work, they were standing around as though there was nothing to do. The householder found them, hired them, and sent them to work. The householder repeated this seeking and hiring throughout the day. He found the workers, gave them a responsibility, and sent them off to perform their duty. The problem wasn’t that there were no workers to be found, the problem was that the people weren’t doing any work. Said another way, the workers were expected to accept their responsibility and to go into the fields as they were sent.
Likewise, Jesus wants to take the idle workers in His churches and send them out into the fields. The role of Jesus during His ministry on earth was to be the “sent one” (Luke 19:10) and to make His people missionary (John 20:21):
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. – Luke 19:10
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. – John 20:21
“Missions” simply means sending and proceeds from the plan and purpose of God. Jesus wasted no time in sending more people into the fields. Jesus prayed all night long then called the Twelve disciples, who he quickly enrolled in Evangelism 101 with Himself as the Professor (Luke 6:12-13; Matthew 10:5-7). Further, he called another seventy to continue the effort of evangelism to reach the multitudes. In order to clearly articulate His evangelistic vision to this new group of disciples, he repeated His earlier observation:
After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Luke 10:1–2
Even after the seventy new disciples were sent, Jesus said he wanted more! It is not difficult to see that the source of more workers who had a testimony to share and a gospel to preach would be found in His church. So, Jesus directed His church to continue the work of reaching the world after His resurrection and ascension:
As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. – John 17:18
…as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. – John 20:21
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations. Matthew 24:14
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. – Mark 16:15
From the time of empowered by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the believers of the church recognized their responsibility to reach the Jews, the Samaritans, and the nations as reflected through the exciting stories in the book of the Acts. Summarily, the believers “went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). Without a doubt, the continuation of Jesus Christ’s mission is through his followers.
The challenge before us is not a matter of being called to the mission field – every believer is called to labor in the mission field. The challenge comes as we confront the reality that the harvest of our community is plenteous and that we have a responsibility to reach it with the gospel.
Picture the calling this way. When your boss gives you a job to do at your place of work, you as the employee are expected to perform that job. You could disregard the task and refrain from performing the work. But what happens when the boss finds out? You know the answer – you will be held accountable. The same is true with evangelism. It is clear that God has called and Jesus has commissioned believers to go into the world to preach the gospel. Not only did Jesus believe that people were lost without Him, but so did the early church. You must also realize that people are lost without Jesus, and you must accept that you are called to be a laborer and to share the gospel with the world around you.
Christ calls all of His followers to be co-missionaries and co-laborers with Him. The call may not be to some far off and distant land; it is first the calling to reach those in your community. Have you accepted the responsibility to reach who you can in this world?
If you are ready to acknowledge the evangelistic reality that the harvest is plenteous, and if you accept your evangelistic responsibility to be a worker in evangelism, then you must now accomplish your evangelistic role….