The Workers Are Few

In Matthew 9:35-38, we have the famous words of Jesus calling the disciples to pray for God to send laborers into His harvest. What I find interesting in this passage is that it begins with Jesus proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God and Jesus healing diseases. It begins with Jesus speaking into people’s spiritual needs and healing people’s physical needs.

It begins with Jesus working.

Jesus did not sit back in the distance instructing the disciples to do something that he was not doing. He was first setting the example in both action, attitude and urgency.

When he told the disciples that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few, he was understating how few the laborers were. At that time, he most likely was the only “laborer” working His Father’s harvest. Now this may have simply been a known expression meaning a certain task lacks workers but the point was clear: the Kingdom of God lacks workers. And the disciples were being given a front row seat to the specifics of what this work was.

To be a disciple of Jesus is to recognize that you are called into the work of Christ. To be a disciple of Jesus is not about living out a Christian lifestyle but about being about the work of Christ . To be a disciple of Jesus is not about a living in a Christian community but about a being about the work of Christ. To be a disciple of Jesus is not about taking on a Christian worldview but about the work of Christ .

Now the work of Christ will shape our lifestyle, it will shape who we are in community with, it will shape our worldview. But when we follow Jesus he calls us into His work.

Are you at work in the mission of Christ. Or you are simply enjoying the lifestyle and community of Christianity.

The work of the Kingdom of God was never intended to be a one-man job. The work of the Kingdom of God was never intended to be accomplished only through the earthly work of Jesus during his three years of ministry. And even if all of the disciples immediately became workers, the workers would still have been few. Because the Kingdom of God requires all disciples in every generation to be actively engaged in the work of the Kingdom. Just look around at this world. How many people do not know eternal life in Christ. It is not a small number but rather a huge number.

Alton Garrison, in his book A Spirit-Empowered Church, wrote “The most important number for your church isn’t how many people attended last week but how many people in your neighborhood, town or city need Jesus.”

When the number that we are concerned about is those who need Jesus, it changes how we think about what we are doing. It keeps the task of the mission of Christ forefront. It keeps us recognizing that there is a harvest field that we are being called into as laborers.

How long would a laborer remain in a field. Until all of the crop is harvested. The laborers wouldn’t look at a half harvested field and walk away. And yet the church today too often looks at the field that clearly needs harvesting and walks away either forgetting or simply ignoring that is the task we have been called into.

The reason for the work shortage isn’t necessarily a shortage of disciples. It is a shortage of disciples who will work in the mission of Christ. I believe today many Christians are working. They are working to raise their family. They are working to build their church. They are working to change their culture. And while those are good things they are the things that happen while we are invested in the work of Christ. And so while we seek to raise a family and serve in the church, the harvest remains unharvested resulting in the kingdom of God lacking workers.

The job description for disciples hasn’t changed. We are still called to be fishers of men. We are still called into the outward work of the Gospel.

Will you go into His fields? Will you lay down whatever it is that has consumed your time and energy and become a laborer for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Will you enter into the work of the Kingdom of God?

The sign remains hanging over the fields: Help Wanted. Will you go?

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