Read Luke 10.1-12, 17-20
Jesus has his “face set on Jerusalem” which means that he knows trouble lies ahead. At this point, Jesus has only a small band of followers. Though the number of followers had increased, they were still no match for the numbers that would oppose them. Jesus knew that the road to Jerusalem was fraught with danger. As he puts it, “I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Not many would welcome these wanderers who took their faith so seriously and called for repentance. There is plenty of evidence that the people aren’t ready to hear the Gospel. The danger is evident. The atmosphere is hostile. The ground is rocky. Still, Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful.”
After Jesus declares the harvest, he sends the disciples into the various towns on a mission of peace. In this mission, we see the beginnings of our mission as a church. We are called to go into all places, to share the gospel of Christ. Jesus gives his followers four tasks: to live simply, to accept offers of hospitality, to cure the sick, and to spread the message that the kingdom of God has come near, that the harvest of God is now. When they are not welcomed, Jesus tells them to wipe the dust off their feet as a protest and warning.
It is our mission as a church, as Christians to spread the gospel of Christ, to announce that the kingdom of God is more than a distant hope, but a present reality. We do this by living simple lives. Jesus says, “Don’t clutter up your world with things that will distract you from your mission.” Staying focused on your mission requires that you give up those non-essential things that only get in the way.
Simple living is a gift that frees us to stay focused on our mission as the church and as Christians. We can get caught up in all the things we need to keep up with the world. Jesus reminds us that being laborers in God’s harvest is not a complicated task, but one that requires simple living.
Simple living includes accepting the hospitality of others. Don’t go looking for favors, says Jesus. Accept what is given to you. Accept the hospitality of others. There were those in his day who took advantage of the hospitality of strangers, who went from house to house to collect what would be provided. This is not the way, says Jesus. Accept what is provided for you and be grateful.
Jesus knows that his followers will experience rejection. He warns them of this when he says,” I am sending you out like lambs in the midst of wolves.” Taking your faith seriously and living out your commitment to God can be an unpopular way in the world. Not many people are ready to make the changes necessary in their lives to make repentance possible, to open the door for faithful living. It can be a lonely adventure attempting to share your faith when others choose not to listen. To guard against this, Jesus is careful to send the disciples out in pairs, to draw the strength of companionship from one another. He also encourages them to accept hospitality where it is offered and wipe the dust from your feet where it is not. In all you do, tell of God’s saving presence and accept the response of the people, whether it is hospitality or rejection.
Jesus also sent the disciples out to cure the sick. Healing is an essential part of the ministry of Jesus. To follow Jesus means to go where there is sickness and disease and offer the hope of healing. This is an important part of Christian living which we do as we visit the sick and pray for those who are hurting. We offer hope to those who experience brokenness of any kind, emotional, physical or spiritual, that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Finally, Jesus tells his followers that wherever you go, spread the news that the kingdom of God is at hand. God’s harvest is plentiful; it has come near to you. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send out the laborers. God’s harvest is plentiful. Pray that God send us as laborers into the field.
Live simply. Care for those who hurt. Spread the news that God’s hand is in the world. Declare the harvest of God.