Grace, mercy, and peace be
unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Doesn’t it make you wonder
what kind of miracles did occur in those places? I mean if Jesus is
saying, “Woe to you, for if the miracles that were performed there
were performed among you, they would have repented a long time ago in
ashes and sackcloth.” Makes you wonder because in our own country,
great miracles have been done. God has brought to life those who are
dead in sin.
Great amounts of preaching
have been done, unhindered, unbound, and we just continue to get fat.
I love my country, and I know you love your country, but this country
will come and go like other countries before her. But the faith of which
you and I are a part, the miracles done in your heart and in my heart,
that is eternal. And that will continue to grow and be beautiful in heaven,
but in this world and in this nation, we don’t know how much longer.
When Jesus sent out those 72
to go from village to village, He gave them great authority, gave them
power to drive out demons and to heal. When they came back, do you notice
what they focused upon? In the text they come back and they focus not
upon how many people heard the Word of God, how many people harkened
unto the voice of the Good Shepherd. They rather fixed upon only, “Wow,
what we did when demons left at the power of Your Word.”
Now one could say, “Well, they’re really talking about the fact
that people did come to know the Lord Jesus, and demons were driven out in
that sense.” But my guess is, like all human beings, they focused
on the glorious things and not the inglorious things which really those
are the glorious ones. What do I mean? When the 72 went out and they
did what God had given them to do, to proclaim, “The kingdom of
God is near,” having done so, rather than seeing the glory of God’s
work in the hearts of the people, they report only back what they saw that was glorious to their own earthly eyes. That can happen to you and me quite often.
We can look and say, “Is our church doing anything? We’re not seeming to accomplish anything.
Not like that church, or not like those people. What is it?” Do
you marvel at the fact that you are a believer? Do you marvel at the
fact that God took your heart, of all hearts, and resurrected it and made
it His and called you by name? Do you not marvel at the fact that He
did this in this church, or through that gospel? And f that gospel was
good enough to have converted you and brought you to faith, it is pure
and good enough for those in this world.
The problem is, like those
places of which Jesus spoke in the gospel reading, and pronounced, “Woe
unto them,” our own country could be pronounced, “Woe unto
you, O America, if the miracles that were done for you were done in
Europe, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes, or
Africa, or in Asia, or in South America.”
It is at times we feel we want
to see something powerful and we forget to look at ourselves in the
mirror, and marvel at God’s work in a sinful clay pot like us that God
made us His believing child. He did so through means that the rest of
the world looks at and says, “Ah, that’s old fashioned, antiquated.
That’s old school and by-gone era stuff.” No, it is the same kind
of stuff that will convert homeless people. It is the same kind of stuff
that will convert young people. It is the same kind of stuff which can
make an old person come to faith who has denied it all their life. It
is the kind of stuff that makes one who is dead, alive. That doesn’t
In fact, that’s the key in
this text after Jesus, having sent out the 72 and they returned, Jesus
affirms the fact that yes, He has seen Satan fall from heaven like lightning
by God’s power. “But don’t marvel in that,” He said, “Marvel
that your name is written in the kingdom of heaven. Marvel that you
have been converted.”
We live in a nation that is
pretty fat, and I know we are going through difficult financial times,
but doesn’t it make you sit back and just scratch your head sometimes
and go, “Wow, on the other hand, we’re pretty lazy?” There
are crops to be picked in the state of Washington, and they don’t have
anybody to pick them. No one wants that menial of work. So they had to
fly in hundreds of people from Jamaica and pick their crops of cherries
We have dozens of churches
and thousands of opportunities, and yet no matter what church, we don’t
have enough pastors. Is it viewed as too menial? Is it viewed as unglorified?
The reason I suggest this to you is that when it says, “Pray to
the Lord of the harvest that He would send out laborers into His harvest
field,” first and foremost, He is saying, “Pray that we would
have pastors.” For young men must sacrifice a great deal to stand
where we stand.
You’ve heard of sacrifices,
and this is not to laud any one person, but you’ve heard of the sacrifices
that Pastor Stenson had to give up in order to follow the call of God. As
an engineer, well established in his career, having attained a good
reputation, he laid that all aside for the sake of God’s call.
There are young men in our
congregation and there are middle-aged men in our congregation who God
may want you to prompt. You see when we realize God is calling us, it’s
not through a lightning strike, and it’s not through some vision, it’s
through people like you who say, “Have you ever considered becoming
a pastor? Hey, have you ever considered being a teacher of the faith?”
It’s through people like you that God uses to prompt us to be a part
of this great gift of proclaiming God’s good news.
The second part of that is
this, you…you my brothers and sisters are part of that whom God is
sending out into this mission field. How long has it been since you
have invited someone to come to your church, the church that you love, the
people you are proud to be sitting in the pew with, the great gift of
all that is a part of what this church is? Has it been a while?
Make that phone call, then.
Stop by and see them. Put a bug in their ear because what brings God
the greatest joy and pleasure, and how God has always decided to work,
which you have to scratch your head at times, too, and think, Lord,
of all the possible methodologies You would have picked, this seems
to be the most innocuous one of all. That He would use people to
reach people, people with hypocrisy and sins oozing out of every pore
to reach people whose own hypocrisy and sins are just as bad. Yes, you
are the ones whom God uses.
That’s what was used upon you,
a sinful mom and dad who brought you to church with much complaining
at times. A loving grandparent who made sure you got to church. “Do
I have to go to confirmation?” God uses people to reach other people.
It’s all about relationships. It’s all about getting someone to come
and hear the kingdom of God, for here, here is where it comes near to us and
encounters us. Here is where we are joined to Him, and He to us. Here
is where that person you invite will hear it.
Now, we may not always see
the harvest right away, but know this. When we have seen harvests of
baptisms and adult confirmations and so on, when we have seen harvest,
it’s not us who did it. Someone else took the time to plant those seeds
and water them a long time before we did. We just happened to be the
one who is blessed to see the harvest, and so we will plant and sow
many times, but we will not get to harvest those, maybe.
So like the 72 who returned,
and Jesus is trying to remind them of what they’ve seen is glorious,
yes indeed, but what they’ve seen is not nearly as miraculous as fixating
upon the fact of you. God chose you, of all people, and you are just
as vile as the homeless person who you and I write off as being completely
unreachable. You and I are just as stubborn as any youth of this age
that we think we have to tailor, craft, or manipulate in order to bring
into the church. Just look at yourself and what God has done in you.
Wow! That should be enough proof to you and to me. If God can do it
to me, He can do it to anyone.
You are a part of that that
has been sent out into the harvest field, and you will harvest where
you did not sow, but you and I will sow where we did not harvest. And one
more point, take a moment to encourage a young man, to encourage even
a middle-aged man to consider that God might be calling him into the
office of holy ministry so that our grandchildren can have pastors too.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.
The peace of God which passes
all understanding keep your hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to
life everlasting, Amen.