Workers for the Harvest

Pastor Jerry Donovan

The mission of the church is “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Sometimes I picture the process of making disciples like the Ford Motor Company makes cars, rolling off the assembly line all shiny and new. Now I know what a car is for, to get from one place to another. So, what is a disciple for? Sometimes we in the church are so busy making disciples we forget to ask that question. The word disciple means learner. They learn something from somebody, and those first disciples learned something from Jesus. Like apprentices working under a Master craftsman, they watched the way the Master went about his trade, and His is bringing in The Kingdom. He did it by preaching and teaching; healing the sick; cleansing the lepers; raising the dead; and casting out demons. He did all He could to bring heaven to earth and He did it masterfully. So, the disciples watched Him, they took mental notes as He was preaching and teaching. Eventually they got a chance to learn in the best of all possible ways, they got to learn by doing, as told in Matthew 9:35-10:8.

Jesus took some of his own authority and handed it over to his disciples so that they had what He had when it came time to cast out demons or cure a disease. But can you imagine that you might have to cast out a demon or cure a disease? Before they can even think about it, Jesus gives them their marching orders.

”Jesus sent out these twelve, instructing them as follows: ‘Do not go to Gentile regions and do not enter any Samaritan town. 6 Go instead to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’” (Matthew 10:5-6 NET Bible). That just doesn’t sound like Jesus at all. Where’s the Jesus of John 3:16 “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Why now does He seem to be excluding the Gentiles, some of whom are probably listening to this sermon; and Samaritans who are probably not? Yes, Matthew is the most Jewish of all the Gospels but even by Matthean standards these instructions seem exclusive. If there is no Good News for the Gentiles, then there is no good News for us.

If I could ask Jesus just one question it would be: What do You have against Gentiles and Samaritans? To which I hope He would reply, “nothing-nothing at all some of my best friends are Gentiles, and I’ve met some very good Samaritans. But you have to start somewhere, and for their sake I asked my disciples to start with the people closest to them in culture and custom.” Or as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message, “Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood.”

Is healing a special privilege for the 12 or does He expect all His disciples to offer healing. If He does, I know how disappointed He has been in me, because my fall back excuse when God asks me to move out of my comfort range is; I’m only a disciple, a learner trying to learn how to do things that Jesus did and I don’t want to mess it up. But isn’t this passage the proof that there comes a time when disciples need to start doing something rather than just learning about them?

In our Church’s recent Bible study of The Book of Acts we shared maps of Paul’s three missionary journeys around the Mediterranean, which is a good thing to learn for disciples who are learning about Paul in the Book of Acts. But, when we stand before the Lord, I don’t think he’s going to ask us where Paul went on his second missionary trip; I have a feeling he will ask us were we went on our second missionary journey.


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