THE NEED FOR HARVESTERS
Luke 10:1 12
If God has a need, it is for harvesters. We hesitate to speak of God having a need. He is the Eternal One who is
eternally sufficient in Himself. Yet we come to a passage like this that reveals the Divine Concern and the Divine
Method in such a way that we realize His need of workers.
This passage is unique to Luke's gospel, even though it is very similar to the sending out of the twelve. This
took place as our Lord began his final journey to Jerusalem. His journey would take Him through the cities east
of the Jordan. In preparation for his final visits in these communities, He sent seventy selected messengers
ahead. He sent them forth two by two.
We should probably see something symbolic in the sending of the seventy. In the Genesis list of the Gentile
nations, there were seventy of the nations. The area to which these were sent was partly influenced by the
Gentile culture. The people were looked down on by most of the Jews. Was our Lord trying to demonstrate His
concern for all nations in the sending of the seventy? However some of the older manuscripts have seventy-two
being sent, so we should not be too dogmatic about this.
As our Lord prepared the seventy to go forth, He unburdened His heart to them. He said, "The harvest truly is
great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into
his harvest." (vs. 2). He was de¬claring "Needed; Harvesters". If these words were true then, they are even
more true now.
I. HARVESTERS ARE NEEDED BECAUSE OF THE DIVINE CONCERN
The words give us a profound insight into the concern of our Lord for people. There can be no question that
people were always a primary concern of our Lord. There are two great concerns expressed in this figure of the
A. The Divine Concern about the human potential.
It is of special interest to study the three times Jesus spoke of the harvest in this
way. The first time was in Samaria. It was spoken to the disciples
to call their attention to the spiritual potential. He said, "Say not
ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold I say
unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white
already to harvest." John 4:35. When the disciples looked at Samaria,
they saw only spiritual darkness that would make any work
difficult. When Jesus looked at the same people, He saw potential.
He saw a people that could be gathered to and for the Lord. He saw
The next time our Lord used this figure was in the Gospel of Matthew. As Jesus went through the villages, He
saw the people "scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (Matt. 9:36). The situation looked so dark
and hopeless. But Jesus saw in the situation a harvest potential. He said "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the
laborers are few". (Matt: 9:37) Jesus was able to see in broken and bruised humanity a potential for God He
called it a harvest.
This is the essence of our text. Our Lord saw in the spiritual blindness and poverty of the Gentile dominated
section of the holy land a potential a harvest.
Can you see the potential? Our Lord is concerned about this potential. He can look beyond what is to what
might be. The people are like ripened grain ready for the harvesters.
B. The Divine Concern about the human vulnerability.
This is the other side of the figure. If there is a potential in the harvest, there is also vulnerability. This is what
keeps the farmer from sleeping well during the harvest season. He knows that there is only a brief time for
harvest. If you do not gather the grain at just the right time, all of the potential is lost. This is a concern to our
This is true of every unsaved person you know. He or she has a tremendous potential. They are like a harvest
ready to be gathered to the Lord. They are a potential member of the people of God. But if they are not
gathered to the Lord, all of that potential will be lost. What might have been never will be!
Have you ever stood beside a grain field that was ready for harvest when it has been beaten down by a storm,
or burned by a fire? There will always be a deep sense of loss. This vulnerability of humanity concerns our Lord.
You will never understand the need for harvesters unless you understand the concern of our Lord. His concern
for mankind is to become a part of our motivation. We are to become workers because of his concern. He is the
one who is gathering a people for Himself. The harvest is His. It really does concern Him to see the ungathered
II. HARVESTERS ARE NEEDED BECAUSE OF THE DIVINE METHOD
This is the other great lesson we learn from this passage. We see a bold indication here of the Divine Method.
We learn two great lessons about the Divine Method here.
A. God works through people.
After stating the greatness of the harvest, Jesus says, "but the laborers are few". At first this is a startling thing.
When you realize the issue involved, it is startling to realize the implication of this statement. The figure of the
harvest lets us know that God is gathering a people for Himself. He is calling out a people to live under His rule
for all eternity.
But our statement reminds us that his laborers are few.
This was obviously true then. It these seventy included the Twelve, they were the only laborers to help harvest
the whole world. It is still obviously true, if you take all the people who know the Lord and put them down beside
the field of the world, they are so few. But if you take those who are actively working to gather the harvest, those
who are actually sharing the Gospel with others consistently, they are really few.
But this is still the Father's method. He works through people. If there are not enough workers to gather the
harvest, then the harvest just suffers. But there is yet another insight into the divine method.
B. God Works through prayer
. After calling their attention to the greatness of the harvest, Jesus says to them "Pray ye therefore the Lord of
the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest. "Matt: 9:38. This lets us know how basic prayer is to
God's method. Even though He is the Lord of the harvest, has a profound interest in the harvest, and knows the
need for laborers in the harvest, He waits on the prayers of His people to send forth more laborers. When they
call to Him in prayer, then He begins to thrust forth others to share in the labors.
This lets us know our first responsibility in the matter. When we become aware of the great need for workers, we
should make the need a matter of persistent prayer. We can approach this matter with full confidence that the
Lord will answer because we know He is the Lord of the harvest. He has an infinite interest in the outcome of the
But you should be warned those who begin to pray for workers usually end up being sent. I remember reading
an incident from the life of Martin Luther. Melanchthon was one of his closet friends when he launched forth in
his Reformation ministry. Even though he shared the convictions of Luther about the need, he was reluctant to
join him in the bold step. He told Luther, "Martin, you go ahead with your ministry, and I will stay behind and pray
for you ''
But as the days went by, there came restlessness to the spirit of Melanchthon. One night he had a dream. In his
dream he saw a large flock of sheep, but when he looked there was just one lonely shepherd trying to lead the
whole flock. When he looked closer, he observed that it was Luther. Then he saw another scene in his dream.
In this scene there was a field of ripened grain that went as far as the eye could see, but there was only one
lonely harvester in the field.
When he looked closely, he realized again that it was his friend Martin.
When be awoke from his dream, Melanchthon realized that he must do more than pray he must go. So he left
the security of the monastery and went to join Martin in the field.
This is the Divine Method. He fills the places of need in response to prayer. Do you now see why the proper title
for this text is "The Need For Harvesters"? When you realize the Divine Method, you become aware of the need
What is your response to this statement from our Lord? To help you clarify your response let me ask you a
series of questions. Are you able to see the harvest? Do you see the need for people to take the Gospel to
the unreached? Do you realize the urgency of this? Do you realize that God has no other method? If your
answer is "Yes", then surely you must either become a harvester, or become a part of the prayer effort for more
If your answer is "No", then you are still a part of the unharvested field. God help us to act on this text with the
prayer response. And may some of us move out of our comfort zone in the fields to gather the harvest.