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What to Do When the Harvest is Plentiful - Part 2

August 11, 2019 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series: Luke

Topic: Evangelism Verse: Luke 10:1–10:16

 “What to Do When the Harvest Is Plentiful”

Luke 10:1-12

 

Theme: Followers of Jesus Christ must rely on grace as they spread the Gospel of peace to those condemned by sin.

 

I. Recognize the Urgency of Sharing the Gospel – 10:1-2

A. The Importance of the Message – v. 1 

  • It is interesting Luke links what he continues to say to the previous discussion on what it takes to follow Christ by stating: “Now after this …”
  • Many of the disciples of Jesus turned aside when they found out what following Him would mean.
  • However, those who are truly saved by the grace and power of God remain true – something that is often referred to as the “perseverance of the saints.”
  • Those who are genuine followers – saved by the grace of God through faith – are saved in order to be used to bring glory to Jesus Christ.
  • Here, “… the Lord appointed seventy others …” – a reference to the twelve disciples that he had already sent out – cp. Luke 9:1-2
  • Jesus then “… sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come.”
  • Sending “them in pairs” was for several strategic reasons:
  1. They would be able to keep each other from discouragement as they faced hostility – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
  2. They would provide credibility to one another – cp. Deuteronomy 19:15.
  • Jesus had apparently shared with these disciples what His route was going to be as He headed to Jerusalem – cp. 9:51
  • Hence, they were to go as an advance team “to every city and place where He Himself was going to come.”
  • They were to seek to prepare the way before Him so that people would be able to believe in Jesus when He arrived.
  • Today, because of the Great Commission, we also seek to prepare the hearts of people through the Gospel for the “visitation of Jesus” – either as a Judge or a Savior depending on their responses to the Gospel.

B. The Insistence on the Messengers – v. 2

  • Jesus has a sense of the urgency of this mission – as “Jesus was [repeatedly] saying to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful …’”
  • This theme of “the harvest” does not refer to people who are ripe for salvation, but for judgment – Joel 3:12-14; Matthew 13:30, 39-40; Revelation 14:14-15
  • The idea of “the harvest is plentiful” refers to “the mass of humanity moving inexorably toward divine judgment and eternal hell, while only few are working to reach them with the saving truth of the gospel …”
  • In light of this impending, imminent judgment, Jesus said “therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
  • He said that the task then as well as now, is greater than the number of people who have been sent out – a far great number is needed.
  • The “Lord of the harvest” is Jesus Himself – to whom all judgment has been given - cp. John 5:22, 27-29
  • Jesus effectually is saying – I know what is coming for those who are in their sins – pray that I will add to the number that I have already sent out. Once you get into the “field” and see how they are “white unto harvest,” you will beg me to send help – John 4:35.

Application:

  • Have you ever considered yourself part of an “advance team” – going out to inform people to whom the Lord intends to visit either for salvation or condemnation? 
  • What difference would such a role make in how you approach unsaved people?
  • How does the certainty and imminence of judgment affect your participation in evangelizing? How should it?

II. Rely on Grace in Spreading the Gospel – 10:3-9

A. Rely on Grace for Protection – v. 3

  • He commands them to “go” – [ὑπάγω] – to leave or get on the move – and suggests His call for them to obey His command and stop staying put
  • However, Jesus wants them to “go” with an awareness that their experience will require them to continue to rely upon Him – “Behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.”
  • The hostility of the world against them and their message was real – “lambs” don't stand a chance against “wolves” … especially was they are “in the midst of wolves” that is, surrounded by them, immersed among them.
  • Their only hope of survival would be for the “Great Shepherd” of the sheep to tend to them with protection – something He promised in the Great Commission – cp. Matthew 28:20.
  • Jesus assures them here that despite the real dangers that you will encounter and the ferocious hostility of the world, I will guard you with My eye upon you.

B. Rely on Grace for Provision – vv. 4-9

  • He then calls on them to demonstrate their trust Him to provide for them in a variety of ways – vv.4-7

  • Jesus promises to meet their financial needs -  “carry no money belt” 
  • He promises to meet their need for clothing – “no bag, no shoes”
  • He promises to do this without any solicitation on their part – “… and greet no one on the way.”
  • He promises to meet their need for housing – “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’” 
  • The “peace” that they wish upon the house is clearly a reference to the “peace” brought by Jesus as the reason that they are sent is to prepare the way for Him.
  • If in discussion with a resident of a city caused the resident to respond favorably to the message of peace attainable with God through the Messiah’s ministry – cp. Isaiah 59:8; Luke 1:79; 2:14
  • “If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him …” – a reference to a “son of peace” or one whose nature is consistent with peace and indicates someone who is receptive to the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
  • “… but if not, it will return to you” – meaning that it is rejected by the man, this peace will remain yours alone.
  • When you are received by someone who is willing to believe the good news, “Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages” – this is the way that the Lord will “pay” those who serve Him.
  • What Jesus forbids is for His servants to greedily maneuver to greater opportunities or better accommodations – “Do not keep moving from house to house” which was the way that the false teachers operated.                                                                                    
  • Provision through Them – vv. 8-9

  • Yet, not only were they to rely on God’s grace to meet their needs, they were to rely on God’s grace to be used to bring the message to the city where Jesus was to go.
  • For the purpose of demonstrating that they were grateful servants of Jesus sent for the welfare of the people in a city, “Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you.”
  • They were not to set a standard for themselves and demand special treatment but were to be grateful for the Lord’s provision in whatever form it took.
  • Additionally, they were to faithfully proclaim the truth – “… and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near to you.’”
  • Clearly, they were to perform the miracles that authenticated their message through healing so that they could announce the reality of coming of Jesus – “The Kingdom of God has come near to you” through the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • The message included: that “the Kingdom of God” has come near through the coming of Jesus the Christ
  • That the only response of “the Kingdom of God” coming near through Jesus is to repent – cp. Matthew 4:17
  • Whether they are talking about being provided for or provided through, Jesus assured them that they would lack no grace – cp. Luke 22:35.

Application:

  • Why do you believe Jesus instructs His disciples to remain in a state of utter dependency upon Him?
  • What role does Jesus have in peace prevailing in a home?
  • What does it suggest when hostility and conflict prevail in a home? What can be done about that? 

III. Reveal the Consequences for Snubbing the Gospel – 10:10-12

A. The Declaration of Judgment – vv. 10-11

  • However, the Gospel presentation cannot be considered accurate without both an emphasis on the accomplishments of God’s grace as well as the assurances of God’s judgment. 
  • Jesus instructs His followers “But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you.’”
  • The wiping off the dust from the feet is a cultural sign of complete rejection – cp. Luke 9:5
  • The specific occasion for this action was the final presentation of the opportunity to receive the King before His death and the rejection of Israel because of their rejection of Jesus – cp. Luke 13:34-35
  • Their rejection of the opportunity for peace with God through belief in the Son of God meant that God would not have peace with them – those who reject Christ will be rejected by Him in the judgment – cp. Matthew 10:33.

B. The Degree of Judgment – vv. 12-16

  • The consequence of such rejection is severe – those who choose to reject Jesus when they have all of the evidence or proof of who He is, will know the full boiled wrath of God.
  • Jesus communicates through the use of comparative judgment that the rejection of the Gospel and the attending rejection of the King is worse than any other kind of sin. 
  • Jesus uses a series of radical, wretched examples of cities that the Jewish people would unanimously agree were the worst people who do not deserve any mercy from God whatsoever to underscore how much worse the sin of rejecting Jesus is than anything else:

It Is Worse than Sodomy – v. 12 

  • Jesus declares: “I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city.”
  • “… that city” – refers to any of the cities that would reject the gospel – we’ve already seen an example in 9:52-53
  • “Sodom” is the location where the decadence of depravity through debauchery and sexual perversion was judged by God who rained down fire and brimstone to destroy all who was within – found in Genesis 18:20-22; 19:4-11, 24-25
  • The actual events of God’s wrath toward the homosexuals of “Sodom” became renowned – to the degree that homosexuality is called “Sodomy.”
  • “Sodom” became the representational description of God’s fiercest wrath; yet, the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ will bring greater fury from God than “Sodomy” which is horrific enough!
  • This isn’t some homophobic expression – but an announcement by the Judge of all men – a promise by the Judge of what can be expected by those who reject Him – cp. Hebrews 10:29-31
  • Nevertheless, the reason that Jesus sends laborers – you and me – into the fields that are ready to be judged is so that they might be saved.

It Is Worse than Satanism – vv. 13-14 

  • Jesus continues to confront the damning sin of unbelief by pronouncing a series of “woe” to cities that had rejected the gospel of the Kingdom within Galilee – “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!”
  • These two cities had failed to repent at all of the wonders that Jesus had performed and the truth He had declared in their hearing.
  • “Chorazin” – was a town about which little is known – it was neighboring village to Capernaum and had seen “most of His miracles” – cp. Matthew 11:20
  • “Bethsaida” – was also nearby Capernaum as was the hometown of Andrew, Peter, and Philip – cp. John 1:44; it was also with the location or close to the location of the Feeding of the 5,000 in Luke 9:10ff. It Mark 8:22, it is the location of the 2 staged healing of the blind man.
  • In an astonishing declaration, stating that the principle of “comparative judgment” making the sin of unbelief the worst sin of all,  Jesus states that “… if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.”
  • “Tyre” was such a wicked Phoenician port city that when it came time for God to address His condemnation of Satan, he used the king of Tyre as a personification – cp. Ezekiel 28:11-14ff
  • “Sidon” was a city about 22 miles north of Tyre. It was so committed to the worship of Baal and Astarte that the most wicked woman in Israel’s history – Jezebel came from there and further corrupted the entire nation through her influence over Ahab – cp. 1 Kings 16:31.
  • Hence, these two cities became bywords for Satanic influences and idolatry – contemptible and decadent, epitomizing the depth of Gentile paganism, polytheism, and perversion.

It Is Worse than Self-Righteousness – v. 15 

  • In our text, Luke doesn’t compare Capernaum with any other city – allowing their self-righteous, self-contented attitude to stand as it’s own example of decadence and lostness.
  • Matthew takes us back to Sodom for comparison – cp. Matthew 11:23
  • The inhabitants of Capernaum made the grotesque and errant assumption that they were going to find preeminence in Heaven – “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you?”
  • Instead, their self-righteousness was damning – “You will be brought down to Hades!”
  • “Hades” [ᾅδης] – is a word generally used to refer to hell or the nether world; the destination of the wicked.
  • Capernaum’s response to Jesus was one of tolerance – and perhaps even pride in his celebrity; but clearly they failed to acknowledge Him as the sole way to gain peace with God and therefore it was a form of rejection – cp. Matthew 12:30. 
  • Jesus concludes this section from going from generalities to specific and personal application – “The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.”
  • When Christians share the message about Christ, given to us by Christ, for the purpose of the glory of Christ and enabled by the power of Christ, it is the Lord Himself who is speaking through them – cp. John 13:20; Galatians 4:14.
  • It is up to the individual to respond to the message of peace with God and thus, we rely on God and His grace as we proclaim the Gospel.

Application:

  • Why does Jesus instruct his disciples to make a public announcement of condemnation? 
  • What are the ramifications of the Kingdom of God coming near and yet being rejected?
  • What is the basis of “degrees of punishment” introduced by Jesus in these verses?

More in Luke

December 8, 2019

The Protection by God

December 1, 2019

The Pardon by God

November 24, 2019

The Provision by God