Sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost based on Luke 10:1-20
Dear Church of God: Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.” The kingdom of God is discussed as a harvest, similar to the parable of the sower. We are told the harvest is great; there is much harvest that needs to be gathered. However, the labourers are few. There are few who have been sent by the Lord of the harvest to labour to bring in the Lord’s harvest.
Thus, Jesus instructs us to pray to the Lord of the harvest so that He would send labourers into His harvest. This is one specific request for which Jesus has told us to pray. We have clear instructions that this is according to God’s will and that we should pray for it. If Jesus Himself has told us to pray for this very thing, do you not think God will answer this prayer?
We have our answer in the text. No sooner had Jesus given this instruction to pray that God would send out more labourers, than He immediately sent the seventy-two to work in His harvest. He sent the labourers even before anyone had a chance to pray that He would send more labourers. Jesus says, “Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest. Go…” His very next word to the seventy-two is “go.” Jesus is already answering the prayer that He tells us to pray.
So don’t get the impression that the harvest is out of control. Don’t get the impression that labour shortages will prevent God’s kingdom from coming. Don’t get the impression that the harvest is up to us – as if the harvest is ours; as if the labourers are ours; or as if the kingdom of God will only come through our prayers (SC II.2).
This is not just some random harvest Jesus is talking about. He says it is the Lord’s harvest. More than that, He is the Lord of the harvest. Even further, He sends labourers into His harvest. The harvest is His. The labourers are His. The results are His.
See, when it comes to His kingdom and His promises, Jesus is all about certainty. He will not leave anything to chance. Jesus sends His ministers with His Word into His harvest to bring about His kingdom. He gets rid of all the uncertainty by giving us His promises, and by giving us real physical elements combined with His Word that make His kingdom certain among us.
Jesus has given us Baptism which has the physical element of water that is physically poured over the head as one is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:18-19; Mark 16:16; I Peter 3:21). There remains no uncertainty after Baptism. No one needs to wonder whether they are truly baptized or not once it has taken place. All the promises of Baptism are given in Baptism and there can be no doubt that those promises are for you since you were baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:27; Titus 3:5).
Jesus has given us the Sacrament of the Altar which has the physical elements of bread and wine that are physically received in the mouth along with Christ’s own Words of Institution which tell us that we receive His true body and blood for the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; I Cor. 11:23-25). There remains no uncertainty with the Lord’s Supper. No one needs to wonder if their sins are truly forgiven after receiving the Lord’s Supper. All the promises of the Lord’s Supper are given in Jesus’ true body and blood and there can be no doubt that these promises are for you since you yourself receive Jesus’ body and blood.
Uncertainty arises only when the institutions of Christ are not followed, such as when one is not baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit or when an element other than Christ’s mandated element of water is used. Trying to be innovative and creative, some people, instead of baptizing in God’s triune name, baptize with characteristics or descriptions of God. They might say, “I baptize you in the name of the Creator, Liberator, and Sustainer” instead of what Jesus commanded. Others want to use other elements, such as rose petals, instead of water for Baptism. As ridiculous as this sounds, I’m not making this up! Such novelties remove all the certainty of Baptism as they do not follow the institution of Christ.
Uncertainty arises also when the institution of Christ is not followed with respect to the Lord’s Supper. If bread is replaced with some other element or if wine is replaced with some other element, all certainty is lost in the Lord’s Supper since these are not following the institution of Christ. Some church bodies use crackers and grape juice, but they do not believe that Jesus true body and blood are present anyway, so not only do they not have certainty, they outright deny the very Words of Christ.
Uncertainty is also introduced in the Sacrament of the Altar if one who is not sent by the Lord of the harvest presides over it. That’s why the church ordains men to carry out the functions of the pastoral office once they have been tested and examined and legitimately called by God through the church. It’s all about certainty so that you know that you receive what Christ has promised you receive. If you have someone who is not a pastor, or a woman who claims to be a pastor even though the Lord of the harvest has specifically excluded her from the role, you have no certainty as to what you receive since you are not following the institution of Christ.
Rest assured, this has nothing to do with the character or the person of the pastor himself. A pastor is just another sinful man, but God takes this sinful man and calls him through the church to be a labourer in His harvest to speak His Word and give out His gifts. That’s why all of God’s gifts are certain – they don’t depend on your pastor, but on the Word and institution of God.
Without God calling pastors through the church, you would simply have chaos in the church. You would have self-appointed pastors who want to teach their own ideas instead of the Word of God and gain followers for themselves and their own earthly gain. It would be like someone hopping a farmer’s fence and starting to harvest the farmer’s crops without the authorization of the farmer. Since they are the farmer’s crops, it is his harvest, and he sends his labourers to gather in his harvest for him. In the church, this is for the sake of good order as it is on the farm, but even more, it is the institution of the Lord of the harvest; it is for your certainty, so that you know what you receive.
The Lord of the harvest is so adamant about the certainty of your salvation, that He has also given you His sure and certain Word. Heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s Word will not pass away (Luke 21:33). He has given you His Word, so that you can recognize truth from error, and also recognize the labourers the Lord of the harvest has sent from the false teachers with which the world is filled. The Word of God is what is sure and certain, and it is your responsibility to compare what your pastor preaches to what God says in His Word. This protects you from following false teachers or from being misled into false doctrine.
The Lord of the harvest sends His labourers into His harvest. We pray that He would send them, and He answers our prayer before it is even uttered. God gives His sure and certain gifts through His labourers so that you are sure and certain that you receive what God has promised you receive – the forgiveness of sins. And the Lord of the harvest has given you His Word which leads and guides you in His truth to life everlasting. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.