By: Rosten Callarman
So if we don’t need a hammer, a guitar pick, and a fighter jet, then what is necessary for harvesting the Kingdom of God? For the answer, we will look back to Luke 10, the place where we started our journey. We will primarily spend time in 10:1-12, though I am a pretty big fan of the entire chapter. Especially when Jesus says “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.” What does that even mean? Sometimes Jesus talk craycray.
In the chapters leading up to Luke 10, Jesus has been traveling from city to city with his band of followers. Jesus has been teaching, healing illnesses and infirmities, driving out demons, and proclaiming the good news that “the Kingdom of God has come near to you” (10:9). And occasionally (once) he feeds five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. After raising a kid from the dead.
And you thought your preacher was good.
So Jesus is traveling around being awesome, but while this is happening there is another vital pattern that we often miss. In the towns where Jesus is doing his work, some people are receptive to Jesus’ work and teachings while other people are not. An excellent example of this phenomenon is 8:26-39. Jesus drives out either 1) a demon with Multiple Personality Disorder (actually called Dissociative Identity Disorder now, but if I had used the new name you wouldn’t have caught the admittedly lame joke) or 2) a really big group of demons that has basically set up a massive hippy demon commune inside of this guy. Jesus sends the demons into a herd of pigs, and the pigs promptly drown themselves. The people of the area are somewhat understandably scared by all of this and ask Jesus to leave. But the man who now has a lot more room in his head wants to join Jesus; in fact, he begs. Jesus tells him, “return to your home and declare how much God has done for you.”
To recap, here is our pattern that happens when Jesus shows up in towns throughout Israel: 1) Jesus proclaims the nearness of the Kingdom of God through his words and actions, 2) most reject Jesus and ask him or force him to leave, 3) some either follow Jesus or remain in their own region proclaiming the Kingdom of God, depending on what Jesus calls them to. Pay special attention to number 3, because it is the basis for the rest of our work. Those who are receptive to Jesus’ teaching either follow him and become part of his traveling group, or they stay in their own region and become local proclaimers of the Kingdom of God – people who share the peace of Christ in their local context.
In Luke 10:1-12, Jesus sends his followers out to do the exact same thing. Those who are following Jesus go to stay with those who have remained in their own regions to proclaim the Kingdom of God (number 3). Jesus’ followers proclaim the nearness of the Kingdom of God through their words and actions (number 1). Finally, some towns do not welcome Jesus’ followers, so they leave because no one there had accepted Jesus in the first place (number 2).
Those who followed Jesus get most of the attention at this point, but I want to give some attention to those who stayed behind (number 3), the ones that wanted to follow but were told by Jesus to remain in their town proclaiming the Gospel. Luke 10 does not say this, but I believe that Jesus is referencing these people specifically in 10:6 when he says, “and if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person.” The homes of these people of peace become the staging grounds for Kingdom activity in that area. The people of peace house the ones who were sent, feed them, and help make sure that the Gospel is not hindered. If one of these people is not present in the town, Jesus’ followers simply move on. They wipe the dust from their sandals…not even the active presence of Jesus in this town could bring about change in a single household, so what could they have done? “Yet know this: the Kingdom of God has come near.”
What then is necessary for harvesting the Kingdom of God? Based on the work we have done so far, we can finally answer our question. Specifically, we need:
- People of peace.
- Harvest fields.
The workers are those who have been called by Jesus to follow Jesus, who are now sent out by Jesus to proclaim the Kingdom of God through words and action. The people of peace are those who have been called by Jesus to stay where they already were, called to become Kingdom outposts, pockets of peace in the growing Kingdom of God. And the harvest fields? We are the harvest. All of creation. Every person, place, animal, tree, rock or anything else that is not currently fully alive as it will be in the Kingdom of God. Everything that could be included when we hear Paul say, “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God,” and that “we know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now.” Harvesting the Kingdom of God is harvesting a new world…the world as God would have it.
So are we finished? Not quite yet. One more thing is necessary for the harvest, and this is important…the most important thing of all.
Attention to what the Lord of the harvest is doing.
Who is this Lord of the harvest? In case you haven’t figured it out, God the Father is the Lord of the harvest. Or is Jesus the Lord of the harvest? Or maybe the Holy Spirit is the Lord of the harvest?
In Luke 10 we meet the Lord of the Harvest, who has sent himself into the harvest, and who is now placing himself inside of his people for the sake of the harvest. His harvest is a people, the People of God, inside of which a kingdom, the Kingdom of God, is growing. His harvest is not just the restoration of all things into what they once were, but the redemption of all things into what they were always meant to become.
The harvest is always plentiful, because the creation is eagerly longing for it. Not because creation was made to be harvested, but because creation was made for the Kingdom of God. The Lord of the harvest is already actively engaged in the harvest. And we are invited to join in.
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”