The Not-so-Grim Reapers

The “Not-so-Grim” Reapers…

Luke 10:1-9

 In Jesus Name

 

May You find your lives reflecting God’s glory into the darkness, as you are sent out with the Father’s grace, mercy and peace, proclaiming God is really in control.What we Jesus tell you, that you couldn’t take?

Looking at the picture on the bulletin cover, of the two men reaping a harvest, and the simple lives of the Amish, a thought began to develop.

If Jesus was sending us out today, as we heard Him send the 12 out a few weeks ago, as He sent the 72 out in today’s gospel, what would He tell us we couldn’t take with us?

No cash, no credit cards, no ATM cards, probably not even scrip cards for gasoline or restaurants! He might even send us out walking, telling us for this journey we don’t need our cars!

He even might ban our electronics, no computer, no tablet computer, no {gulp} smart phones…

He’d instruct us to stay on task, not to get bogged down in texting each other about what we see and experience, no stopping at Starbucks to enjoy a Venti latte froze espresso cappuccino with pumpkin flavoring, while chatting with friends  No suitcase full of clothes and spare shoes – just you and your partner, hitting the pavement,

Move along now…..

If He sent us out with the Message, but forbade us to bring anything besides what we were wearing.. how would we react?

Why should our Load be Lightened?

It is quite easy to get the wrong impression as to why Jesus would separate the disciples from that which our minds think would benefit to their ministry.  We usually see this as a matter of sacrifice and obedience.  Are the seventy-two willing to suffer for Jesus, are they willing to demonstrate their faith by doing without?  I’ve read commentaries where this is hailed as a mark of the disciples devotion, as standard for those who would serve God.  Indeed, there is a sense of pride that can become involved, as people compare what they are willing to give up, what they were willing to endure.  Some even went as far as seeking pain, suffering, and embracing poverty, in order to prove they were holy…

We do not need such suffering to prove our holiness, any more than the young man last week had to sell everything he had, to gain eternal life, to be in fellowship with God.   We, like the young man, find ourselves in God’s presence, now!

But those things Jesus directed them to leave behind, if the reason isn’t to prove their faithfulness, why would He ask them to leave them behind….

unless they would get in the way of the harvest?

unless the disciples would depend on what they had, more than depending on who was with them.

God doesn’t ask us to give up what we need, as much as He would see us freed from what holds us back, as He would free us from what compels our dependence upon His providence.

If we are always looking to our credit cards statements;

if we are considering why our lunch bag is empty;

if we are wondering how far we can get on the nearly empty gas tank;

if we are distracted from our work by less important text messages;

then does the reaping, the harvesting get done?  Or do we focus on our grim situation, and become “grim” non-reapers?”

It is not really about the items we leave behind, it is the anxiety that they can cause, the stress of caring for what we have, or the concern caused by focusing on what we lack…that takes simple things and turns them into idols, into what we count on, more than we count on God

Yet – in Jesus commanding us to leave it behind, in recognizing that the work of the Harvest is His as our Lord, He is taking responsibility to make sure we have all we need.

Just as when He brought us to faith, and granted us repentance, we need to learn to depend on His care, on His Lordship.  It is as much about depending on Him, as it is about obeying Him.

Why do we have to depend on others?

The seventy two found the same challenge, when it came to where they would stay.

Many here would rather serve in the kitchen, then be the one hosted.  Part of it is how we are brought up, how we are trained – especially in the church.  The laws of hospitality, whether rigid in Jesus day, or the more rigid ones around today, are explicit.  We take the idea of being servants, and relegate it to the physical world, to preparing food and doing that which we think we must do, to appease our guests, to entertain them, and in doing so, sometimes we think we’ve done well…

So did Martha, and it was because Mary wasn’t holy enough, that Martha went to Jesus to complain!

While the 72 were sent to serve, they were just as much to depend.  There was to be a relationship here – where they were to feed these people spiritually, even as they were being fed.  They were to bring God’s blessings to these people, who would respond by blessing them.

It is not unlike our relationship with God – who brings us incredible blessings through the work of Christ, then gladly receives our worship and praise and yes – our sacrifices in response.  Each brings something to the relationship – not one party taking advantage of the other, but each being a blessing to each other!

It’s like the command to eat what is put in front of you – what if the host, the one to whom you are bring the word of life, give you a portion that is significantly larger, is noticeable better?  Can we receive blessings, even if people sacrifice greatly to give them to us?

It is about dependence, about being thankful; whether we are offered steak, or hot dogs, or just a piece of bread, whether it is a glass of the finest champagne, or a cup of water.  For if God led us to bring them the gospel and the hope of knowing Jesus, could He not lead them as well?  It is a difficult lesson, is it not?  It requires wisdom, and humility, for I think it takes more humility to be served, than it does to serve.

There is of course, another advantage to this – if we have no money, no food, no ability to sustain ourselves on the journey, neither can we simply run away when the journey gets too tough.  It’s hard to run, when you have no way to get away, no sustenance of your own?  There may be a time to leave – but surely that comes to both the one sent, and the one they were sent to, and the providence becomes something they work out together…as they abide together in Christ Jesus.

Provide therapy and ministry and tell them……

After helping the seventy two get focused on being sent, and ensuring that they brought nothing that would cause them stress and anxiety, but instead encourage their dependence on the Lord Jesus’s ability to provide for them, Jesus tells them what they are to do, as they bring God’s peace to households, and to people.

Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

While that phrase is often translated, “heal the sick”, it by no means is referring just to physical illness.  The verb “heal” is from the word we get “therapy” from, and the word for ill is used not only for sick, but for any trauma that causes one to be weak, helpless, unstable, unable to stand on one’s own.

The disciples were to minister to whoever was broken, to serve whoever needed God’s love, and more importantly, God’s peace.  It was about assuring them that God was in charge, that He still reigns, that He does care and is present in their lives. It was about sharing with them the lesson that they were learning more and more on this missionary journey.

That to have faith, to trust in Jesus, is about depending upon Him.

To depend upon Him for fixing that which is broken,

To depend on Him, even as we pray as Jesus taught, for what we need daily…

To depend on Him to forgive our sins, and the sins of those who sin against us.

To depend on God to give us a way to escape temptation and to protect us from evil.

For that is what it means that the Lord of the Harvest has gathered us in His harvest, even as He sends us out to gather others.

For even as the 12 sent out include the clergy today, the pastors and leaders of the church, so the 72 represents all of us, the family of God, sent to serve, to gather, to reap, not grimacing, but rejoicing, for even if we go with nothing in the world’s eyes… we know what the Lord of the Harvest provides… what He tells us to bring people…
Our reaping, our work in the harvest field is never grim, no matter what we lack in the world’s view.  Rather, it is rich, for we dwell in and gather others into a peace that is beyond comprehension…

His peace.

AMEN?

 

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on October 22, 2012, in Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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