St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

The Lord Commissions His Workers

Sermon on Luke 10:1-9, 16

Text: After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’”
“He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Throughout our synod, young men are being ordained and installed as pastors in our congregations. These men, having completed the course of study, have received their first Calls as pastors. Later this summer, young men and women will be installed as teachers in our elementary school and high schools. What a special day for them as they begin their full time work as pastors and teachers. This morning in our text, we have seventy-two men who were Called and commissioned for a very special task. You and I have also been commissioned by the Lord. THE LORD COMMISSIONS HIS WORKERS. 1. He Tells Them Why They Are Needed. 2. He Explains How They Should Carry Out Their Assignment. 3. He Gives Them The Authority To Do The Work.

In last Sunday’s Gospel Lesson, three men were called by Jesus to follow him and proclaim his kingdom. For one reason or another, they found reasons why they could not, at least not now. Now Jesus found seventy-two men for a task. These seventy-two were in addition to the twelve disciples that had followed Jesus for almost three years. These seventy-two were sent ahead of Jesus with a very special task. They were to go “to every town and place where [Jesus] was about to go.” Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem where he would suffer and die. He wouldn’t necessarily be able to spend a great deal of time at any one place. So he sent these seventy-two out, two by two for support, to get the people ready for his arrival.

As Jesus sent them out, he told them why they needed. He said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” The harvest that Jesus is referring to is the people who will be brought to believe in Jesus as their Savior. He told these men that the harvest is plentiful. There are many people who would be brought to faith. He also tells them, “the workers are few.” There were few people to go out and spread the good news of Jesus Christ and his salvation.

The same holds true today. The harvest is plentiful. Look at the millions and millions of people in the world today who do not yet believe in Jesus as their only hope for salvation. They need to know and believe that message if they are going to be saved. You don’t even have to look to foreign lands. You can look at the United States and even in our own communities. As the hymn writer reminds us, “Fields are white and harvest waiting, Who will bear the sheaves away?”

It also reminds us that the workers are few. This year, there were not enough pastoral graduates to fill the requests for them. Yes, the number was close, but some congregations had to be told that they would have to Call from the field again to fill their vacancies. As far as teachers go, this year there were a number of men and women who could not be assigned because there were no places for them. So, does this mean that there is no problem, that there are plenty of workers and then some? Not at all. By God’s grace it may well be soon that there is a greater need for Called workers. Throughout the history of the synod there have been many times when the supply of workers is greater than places. It is also true that there are many times that there were more places than there are workers. When that happens, we don’t want to have to wait for four or eight years to start filling the vacancies. So, what can we do?

Jesus gives us a number of answers. The first we read in verse 2, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” The first thing that we can do is pray. Pray that the Lord of the harvest would lead more young men and women to consider entering into the full-time pastoral or teaching ministries. The Greek word here has the idea of begging or beseeching. We make this a part of our ardent prayers. It is already included in the Lord’s Prayer as we pray, “Thy kingdom come.”

As we pray, we can also encourage those in our midst to consider studying for this. There are many pastors and teachers who are serving today, because of the encouragement from a parent, grandparent or other friends. Perhaps we can think of someone we can encourage. Thus, we can send out workers into God’s harvest field.

However, that’s not the only way that God’s harvest field is to be labored in. We don’t just train pastors and teachers and then sit back and cheer them on. Jesus also comes to each of us and says, “Go! I am sending you.” God comes to each of us individually and says, “Go.” He wants each of us to be actively working for him. Perhaps you can recall the World War 2 recruiting poster where Uncle Sam is staring out from the poster with index finger pointing straight ahead. The caption read, “I want you.” When people saw that poster with Uncle Sam, it appealed to their sense of patriotism. They felt that they had to go to serve their country.

So, Jesus comes to each of us and says, “I want you to go.” When Jesus calls us to go, he doesn’t try to make us feel guilty or under pressure to go. However, we are reminded of what Jesus did for us and we want to obey. Jesus came and saved us from an eternity in hell that we all deserved because of our sins. Because of my laziness, my hurtful rather than helpful words, and so on down the line, I should have been in hell forever. But, Jesus came and took my place. He suffered hell so that we might never have to. He comes to us and tells us, “Son, Daughter, be of good cheer. Your sins are forgiven.” Imagine, if you will, that someone came and saved you from a burning building. You couldn’t help but be grateful. Perhaps you would want to do something that would show how grateful you were. The same holds true for what Jesus did for us. We were rescued. Now we want to say “Thank you” and this is one of the ways that we can do so. When he comes and says, “Go! I am sending you,” may we respond, “Here I am! Send me!”.

Jesus had very specific instructions for the seventy-two men as they carried out their assignment. Jesus speaks of things like not stopping to greet people on the way, lest they be distracted from their assignment. He mentions proclaiming a word of peace on the house where they stayed. He told them that they were to be supported by those that were taught. Many of these things do not apply to you as you carry out your assignment that Jesus has given you. So, how are we to carry out the assignment? We find our answer at the end of verse 9, “Tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near.’” We proclaim the same message as the seventy-two. This kingdom of God is God’s gracious rule in our hearts. It is his kingdom that brings salvation to all believers in Christ. We bring this message to others. It will entail pointing out sin where it is necessary. It is also the sharing of the way of salvation. It doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of a formal evangelism presentation. Perhaps it is better to share your faith with friends, relations, acquaintances and neighbors. If they see how much your faith means to you, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say. Even the way that we act toward others is a strong testimony to the faith in our hearts. As Jesus tells us, “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Whatever the means, they need to hear the Gospel. As Paul reminds us in Romans 10, “How can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”. Jesus explains to us how we are to carry out our work. We simply proclaim the kingdom of God.

However, what if they won’t listen? After all, I’m not a very good speaker. Who am I that I should go to them? Are those some of the questions or doubts running through your mind? They were questions that Moses asked when God sent him on his task. Why should you be any different? But, for every one of Moses’ questions, God had an answer. God showed him where he would get the authority to carry out the task.

Jesus also told the seventy-two and us as well from where we and they would receive the authority to do the work. We read in verse 16, “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” Jesus gives us the authority to carry out this work. When we proclaim the Gospel message, we are doing what he commanded.

The success or failure of a person to believe the message doesn’t depend on us. If a person believes, it is because the Holy Spirit has worked through our testimony to create faith in their heart. If a person stubbornly refuses to believe in Jesus, the fault lies with them. However, in doing so, they have rejected the only way to be saved. However, the fact remains that Jesus has called each of us to go. We are to spread the seed of Gospel. It is up to God whether that seed sprouts and grows or not. We continue to spread the seed.

When we think of mission work, we so often think of places across the sea, with strange customs and languages. Yes, it is true that there is a need for that type of mission work. However, the need for mission work is also much closer to home. May the Lord help us to labor in his fields. May he send forth more laborers into the fields. As the hymn writer put it so well, Take the task he gives you gladly, Let his work your pleasure be; Answer quickly when he calleth, ‘Here am I, send me, send me!”. Amen.