And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (Lk 10:2)
As Jesus sends out the 72 to the towns to which he would come, he explains to them, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” The harvest is speaking of is people who are ready to receive Jesus as Lord. The laborers are those who would go and tell them about Jesus. “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Ro 10:14) When you look at our churches today it might be easy to doubt the first part of this statement, the harvest is plentiful. Is it really? We hear reports about thousands upon thousands responding to the call of the gospel in Africa and South America but see so little of it in the United States. It is enough for us to doubt that the harvest in our backyard is plentiful. But then again, it may be that there are simply too few laborers to find them and bring them in. We may think of our churches as having plenty of people, but how many are laborers? How many of us are actually telling other people about Jesus? This is where we struggle. We’ve let culture influence us with its “forbidden” label on religion. We’re afraid people will reject us. We don’t have time in our busy schedules. Whatever the reason, we lack true laborers.
Early on in Jesus’ ministry, when he called Simon (aka Peter) and Andrew he said, “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” This is another call to become a “laborers in the fields” ready for harvest. His call comes at an interesting time. Luke tells us (Lk 5) that Peter has been fishing all night and has caught nothing before Jesus comes along. Jesus instructs him to put out into the deep and cast his net. Perhaps somewhat exasperated Peter explains how they have fished all night and caught nothing, but does it anyway because Jesus has told him too. When he does, the net is filled to breaking. It is with this miracle that Jesus invites them to come with him to catch men. I think we think of ourselves like Peter and the others who have fished all night (or at least feel like we’ve been busy) and caught nothing. And so we are doubtful when Jesus tells us to go. And yet, if we go at Jesus’ instruction, according to his instruction, we should expect to catch men. When Peter threw in the next at Jesus’ command, the net was filled to breaking and they had to get help to haul it in. They needed more laborers. This brings us full circle to Jesus’ instruction to pray, “the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Rather than growing discouraged, let us pray this prayer, knowing that Jesus is the Lord of the harvest and the harvest is his.