After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field.” (Luke 10:1, 2)
“Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour.” (John 4:34-38)
What would happen if we actually believed Jesus when he said that right now there is a plentiful harvest in every town and place?
That right now the people living around you are ready to enter into the experience of God’s kingdom, of his circumstance-transforming, people-liberating reign? That is, to meet Jesus.
But, of course, we don’t actually believe Jesus. We don’t believe that is what he meant. Obviously, he meant the specific context that the twelve, or the seventy-two, found themselves in. Not a principle that is in any way paradigmatic for us today. Hypothetically, there must be places where the harvest is plentiful, but we don’t know where, and if we were by some chance to stumble across such a place, that would be God’s sovereign grace. Not that God’s sovereign grace extends across our time and space…
“You mustn’t expect to find a harvest among the middle-classes…or among the working classes…or among the Muslim communities, or the Buddhist or Shinto nations…”
“If I was in that context, I’d be reaping the harvest the people there are failing to reap, but I’m called here where the harvest isn’t ready. Perhaps if I wait patiently, for a few months, or years, a seed might sprout…”
“That would be too easy. It’s got to be harder than that. If it isn’t hard, really hard, it isn’t genuine…Only when it is deeply unattractive can we be sure the message is the true gospel.”
But then again, what if Jesus actually knew what he was talking about?I’ve been challenged again by the idea that people might be waiting to meet (not a bunch of his disciples, but) Jesus.