Right after having a difficult discussion with his 12 disciples in Luke 9, Jesus sent 70 others in pairs ahead of him to every town and place he was about to go.
He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to “kick out” workers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Do not carry a fanny pack with money, backpack, or flip flops; and do not stop to greet people on the way. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Shalom to this house!’ If there is a person of Shalom, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid.
"Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what they serve you; heal the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest”. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’"
In Luke 9:51 Jesus “turned his face toward Jerusalem.” As he followed the trade routes through Samaria it became clear to these villagers that he was not caught up in culture. Their rejection of Jesus created a stir with his disciples, yet Jesus reminded them that he had come to save all people, not just the Jewish nation. His challenge to three Samaritans who considered following him on this journey was a reminder that his ministry required focus, commitment, and a willingness to suffer. This hostile territory required stubborn and focused leaders.
Jesus sent his disciples into this hostile community. Samaritans had their own temple (Mt. Gerizzim), their own translation of the Torah, a culture that clung to witchcraft and idolatry, and typically distrusted and disliked Judeans. It is not until Acts 8 that we read of this community embracing the Good News of Jesus. However, Jesus saw the need to prepare them for the future by sending disciples to preach and teach in their villages.
Jesus described this community as a field that had fruit ready to harvest. Harvesting is hard work, must be done quickly, creates and requires “all hands-on deck.” Unfortunately, Jesus reminded them that there were “few hands-on deck.” The Greek clause in Luke 10:2 reads, “on the one hand there is a full harvest, but, on the other hand, there are only a few workers.”
This is the dilemma we face in ministry today.
None of this really matters to the Mission of God. Jesus sent his disciples into hostile territory with a simple request, ”Pray for the master of the harvest to ‘throw people out into the field’.”
The word we usually translate “send” is a Greek word that means to “kick out,” “cast out,” or “throw out.” Throughout the Bible God’s people have had to scatter to follow the original call to “be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen 1:28). Whether it was languages around the tower of Babel, allotted land, exile, or fleeing Jerusalem of the murder of Stephen; God’s people have needed a “shove” to embrace missional life. For Jesus, the call to follow was a call to an active missional lifestyle.
He also asked the disciples to have both a public and intimate ministry. They were to stay in the home of a person of Shalom. While the Greek word in this text is “peace” the Jewish culture understood it as Shalom.
Shalom is more than peace—it includes justice, integrity, honor, and safety. Disciples were to find a man (and family) of integrity, justice, peace, love, and safety. In Samaria this would be important as it would be a base of operation for the disciples. They would eat what they were served (difficult for Jewish males in Samaria), serve the family and their extended connections, confront the evil in their area of influence, and bless the homeowner in the eyes of his community. In those homes with corruption, injustice, and lack of safety due to a person who was not “Shalom,” the disciples would publicly distance themselves from their influence and lifestyle by rejecting the behavior of the owner. This would clear Jesus of any accusations from the community. Additionally, the disciples' public display of justice would create space for other people of Shalom to invite them into their homes.
Finally, Jesus twice mentioned that the Kingdom of God was close. This is not a temporal event, but spatial. When Jesus’ disciples preach and live out their faith in hostile communities, they illustrate the presence of God’s Kingdom. When Jesus’ disciples get to work and harvest the crop, people see the presence of God. When Jesus’ disciples choose to do mission, rather than talk about it, they bring the presence of Jesus into any community.
Kairos Church Planting Support has experienced a tremendous surge of young couples and individuals seeking to join the harvest. During Covid, the Holy Spirit has responded to our prayers to “shove” workers our way. Our Discovery and Strategy Labs continue to be full; ministries have decided to “reboot” and found growth; our church plants are taking on interns and apprentices, and new works are preparing to begin. During these events we continue to receive requests from more and more interested disciples who feel the call to join the mission of Jesus. As with the disciples, an “all hands-on deck” ministry in the US is still met with a “few hands-on deck” pool of future leaders. However, we continue to pray, and the Lord is faithful.
Continue to pray for us as we train leaders to plant new churches in new places for new people. Please continue to offer praise to the Lord of the Harvest, who is always faithful in any time, season, and among hostile villages.