Christian Library Australia

...because God cares about you

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Sermons “DOING BUSINESS FOR THE KING” Luke 10:1-24


E-mail Print PDF


Luke 10:1-24

David Calderwood

Many of you, at some point, will have heard a missionary motivation sermon based on this passage. It is a favourite for encouraging mission work because it is a stirring theme: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, therefore GO out and preach the gospel . . . .”

But here’s a question: Is that actually Luke’s focus in the passage? Is it an appeal to people to go and do the harvesting that urgently needs to be done?”

I want to state clearly that the emphasis on mission appeal – who will go? – is wrong. And I also want to state clearly that when Christians use these verses in this way they adopt a really poor motivation for mission.

The emphasis in these verses in not on the ones going – Christians, but on the Lord of the harvest – Jesus.

So I want to suggest to you that these verses are another point at which our self-centred, person-centred approach to the biographies of Jesus is evident. I have been pleading for weeks that we might approach every section in Luke’s gospel on the basis of what it tells us, first and foremost, about Jesus and his kingdom, rather than what it says about people, including you and me.

That same theme continues into chapter 10, our passage this morning. So, let’s get into it with the first theme: The Lord of the harvest sends out the harvesters (1-16).

Luke introduces us to yet another development in the mission of Jesus. This time Jesus commissioned, and sent out pairs of disciples as ambassadors (the Greek verb is apostle) to do the business of the king – that is to bring in the harvest of people into the Kingdom being established by God through Jesus.

Note two things in passing. First: while the picture word harvest is new, the idea is not. Back in chapter 5:1-11 we had a fishing picture: Then we had a farming picture in chapter 8:1-15: Then chapter 9:1-6 the small inner group of disciples were sent out as ambassadors.

So the idea is the same in each. In the picture of these verses, doing business for the Lord of the Harvest is to play our part in establishing Christ’s Kingdom by being a harvester.

This means to speak or declare what they had heard and learned from Jesus regarding him being God’s king and saviour come to re-establish God’s rule in the lives of people, which in turn brings renewal in people thereby gathering or harvesting people into the Kingdom.

Second, the emphasis is on Jesus sending. It is Jesus who is firmly in control of the harvest. Three times we are told that Jesus sends workers or ambassadors or harvesters out.

This is a really important point. The focus is not on the missionaries who ‘go’, but on the Lord of the Harvest who ‘sends out’. Understanding this connection gives us proper motivation, confidence and direction for the task of harvesting or mission we are called to.

First: We should ‘pray urgently’ to the Lord of the harvest (2). Countless sermons over the years have focussed on how few workers there are for the enormous task of Kingdom harvest, and finished with the appeal – will you go?

But the emphasis is not primarily on ‘go’ of v3, but on ‘pray’ of v2. The right response to understanding the enormity of gathering sinful people across the world into God’s Kingdom, is to pray that the Lord of the Harvest will do what only he can do to guarantee the harvest.

It is the practical outworking of the parable of the sower and soils, and the experience of his disciples that humanly speaking the task is impossible.

Satan will do everything in his power to snatch away Jesus’ words before they can take root and change people; people won’t listen to Jesus because sin and rebellion have rendered them unable and unwilling to hear; There will be rejection and hatred of the message of Jesus rather than glad acceptance.

If there is to be harvest then we need to pray urgently that Jesus will make it happen both by sending out, the word has the idea of pushing or forcing out workers for this difficult task and equipping them to be able to complete the task successfully.

So, are you praying urgently that The Lord of the harvest will act decisively to secure his harvest, and that he will use you and this church as a group to help in the task? If not, it can only be because we think we can do it in our own strength and with our own resources.

I think it would be fair to say that lack of consistent urgent prayer is probably our greatest weakness as individuals and as a church. We say we want to see people saved, but are we praying that the Lord might use us to that end?

And second: we should then ‘get on with it’ confident of ultimate success (3-16). The verb translated ‘go’ is constantly misunderstood. It has the idea of getting on with the business at hand. The idea is not that some should go, as opposed to others who do not go.

The idea of getting on with the business at hand leaves no option for some to be involved in the work of proclaiming Jesus as Lord and saviour, while others are not.

If you are a follower of Jesus then doing the business of the King is doing the work of the King – getting the seed of God’s word out, and bringing in the harvest that results from it as people respond and are transformed.

And what’s more because the Lord of the harvest is behind us every step of the way, we can be confident in a humanly impossible task (3-8).

Contrary to the way mission is often portrayed these days there is little romantic, or exotic about gospel mission. The picture in verse 3 is one of absurdity – a little lamb going out to convince ravenous wolves to become vegetarians. Humanly speaking urging people who are instinctively hostile to God, to submit to his rule at every point in life is a hopeless task.

And verse 4, the challenge here is the single-minded devotion or focus that is required for the work. This is not an absolute command that Christians should not have any comforts or leisure; rather it is an attitude of self-denial, as already stated in 9:23-27.

That costly self-denial extends, verse 4 to anything that would distract from harvest work; and, verses 5-8, to not being distracted about their accommodation, or about what’s acceptable to eat and drink, or about socialising equally with people.

Friends the point is simple, advancing the cause of Christ in our community or wherever we find ourselves, requires a single-minded focus that foregoing that which others around us enjoy and demand as a right. That is the attitude Paul had – (bulletin insert Piper, Don’t waste your life, p 48)

It’s foregoing the warmth of home and bed on a winter’s night, or a family gathering, or catching up with friends, to go and speak to someone about Jesus. Its foregoing things you might buy so that money is freed for gospel ministry. It’s hanging in with family, friends and workmates when their speech and attitudes would make you want to withdraw from them.

Now from a human point of view who would do this? Answer Christ’s people will do this when motivated by wanting honour for Jesus, and concern for people who so need his message of forgiveness, salvation and a fresh start in life, and convinced that the Lord of the Harvest goes before us and will bring success wherever his word is proclaimed.

So, in the words of Piper: Do you have a single passion for the glory of Christ that would set you free from small dreams of ease and security and drive you out to people in your street, or this city, or the outback, or overseas, and make you take big risks in order to see people saved?

And confident that rejection is not a measure of success (9-16). Their task is to declare the good news that in Jesus there is forgiveness, salvation and new life – The Kingdom is God is on offer to them in real time.

But people will hate the challenge to submit to the rule of the Lord, and will take out their hatred on the messenger. But the Lord of the harvest sends his workers out with the confidence that his Kingdom will grow and succeed regardless of how people respond.

In fact the equation, according to Jesus is simple: There is more than enough evidence to show that Jesus is good news and that his Kingdom is real and that forgiveness and a fresh start is possible immediately. But if people will not have Jesus as Lord and saviour, then they will have him as Lord and judge.

The link between the Lord of the harvest and the harvesters is so close, verse 16, that rejection of the messenger is a rejection of Jesus which, in turn is blatant rejection of God and this will bring inevitable judgment and derstruction.

That’s the reality for anyone who is not yet a believer here this morning. You might think it’s no big deal whether you hear and believe or simply continue to come along to church for friendship or appearance sake, while consistently blocking out the words of Jesus.

But Jesus warns you it is a big deal and it will result in your judgment. His ongoing patience is not open-ended. He will not accept such blatant rejection, and your refusal to believe will not hurt his cause, it will only result in your own eventual destruction.

2. The Lord of the harvest is delighted with his harvest (17-24). There is a time gap between verses 16 & 17. Clearly the important thing is not the time but the reporting back of those sent out as ambassadors.

These verses are hard to understand, but key is that both the ambassadors and Jesus are full of joy, or super excited, or over the moon. So, what does Luke want us to see? He wants us to see that the harvest is proceeding just as Jesus said it would.

Satan’s kingdom is being dismantled ‘person by person’ (17-20). The great reversal that Jesus promised was under way. Even the disciples could see that as the powerful word of Jesus was sufficient power to claim back lives held in bondage to sin and Satan.

Jesus confirms their experience, verse 18. Every person freed from demonic power was part of God’s promised reversal. God’s rule in his world was being clearly demonstrated and re-established by the word of King Jesus now spread by those doing the business of King Jesus. Verse 19, nothing can stop this great reversal brought on by Jesus.

But Jesus’ delight is even greater, verse 20, as he reminds his disciples that there is far more happening than just people being healed from illness or freed from demonic control. The ultimate success is that people are being restored to relationship with God and are having their place in heaven pre-booked as it were.

And finally the Father is receiving the glory he is due (21-24). Jesus is absolutely stoked that the Father’s good pleasure or purpose throughout history is being clearly seen in the harvest that is underway, verse 21.

That these followers now understand what Jesus is about and understand the power of Christ’s word to change lives, is obvious proof of the Father’s work in them.

Christ’s word was the means by which they were changed and renewed, but the source of that change and renewal was ultimately the father’s power and mercy and grace.

And all that, Jesus says, verse 22, simply shows what the father is really like and how this whole process of salvation and renewal works.

Both the father and the son have a crucial role to play in people becoming Christians. It is only through King Jesus that a person can actually see or get into relationship with the father. The father’s purpose is worked out through the proclaimed word of Jesus, and this cycles round to produce more honour for the father.

But it is not only through Jesus that the father is honoured. There is even more honour from his followers, verse 24. His disciples have witnessed something that all history has waited for. Even more they have been included in the mission of Messiah.

The amazing thing is that those doing the business of King Jesus also have a role in people becoming Christians, in working out the father’s good pleasure and purpose in history.

So, the reason for their confidence in the success of their mission, their reason for continued joy in the task, is not the number of missionaries that clever preachers convince to go out, nor in the resources and techniques they have, but because God works to renew people’s lives through the words of jesus that his servants proclaim.

So, it is confidence in the Lord of the harvest and the power of his word that will give confidence for mission, and encourage people to go out – whether going out is simply at your workplace or family gathering or with your neighbours in your street, or into a different country or culture.

If we have real confidence in the Lord of the Harvest and his determination to bring in a full harvest. If we have confidence in the word of the lord of the harvest, that it will be used by the Spirit to break down resistance and to bring renewal, then we will gladly be forced out to speak of jesus to others.

Why? because like Jesus himself we will long for the joy and delight that comes from seeing, person by person, things being put right in God’s world, and we will enjoy seeing Jesus and the father being honoured as they deserve to be.

So don’t focus on the people and activity of ‘go’, rather focus on the Lord of the harvest who sends.



Follow us on Twitter