181. Lord of the harvest.
Starting with the day of Pentecost, the Church experienced rapid growth, because the 'Lord of the harvest' was personally overseeing the operations of the Church. The Spirit who is called the 'testimony of Jesus', addressed the crowd through Peter, saying, "Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." When the people heard this, they were cut to heart ... Those who accepted his message were baptized and about three thousand were added to their number that day.' (Acts 2:36-41) Thereafter 'the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.' (vs 47) The disciples began to understand why Jesus said, "It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go, the Counselor ( Greek: paraklētos) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7) With the coming of the Spirit, the work became more widespread than before because it was no longer limited by physical constraints! The Spirit personally directed each major advance of the Church. He send Philip into the desert to meet the Ethiopian (Acts 8:29), set apart missionaries in Antioch (13:2), guided the first Church council (15:1-28), and helped plan Paul's itinerary (13:4;16:6). As presented in Acts, the Spirit was no vague mist but a living person, who spoke, guided in decisions and fuelled the Church with the energy of faith.
How can we accomplish the task of evangelising the world without the Spirit? The work is so vast and we are outnumbered! Jesus himself faced that situation when he saw the crowds. 'He had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.' Overwhelmed by the enormous task before him, 'Jesus went out to a mountain side to pray and spent the night praying to God. When morning came , he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated Apostles' (Luke 6:12-13) 'that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach' (Mark 3:14) and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.' (Matthew 10:1) He multiplied his efforts by sending twelve more like him to do what he was doing! Then seventy two others! '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." ( Luke 10:1-2) Then when the 'Lord of the harvest' came on the day of Pentecost, a hundred and twenty who had gathered in the upper room at Jerusalem, which included those who were sent earlier by Jesus, were ignited with 'tongues of fire' (Acts 2:3) and he launched them to reach the ends of the earth with the Gospel. Since then the 'Lord of the harvest' has been recruiting men and women from all walks of life in every generation for this humongous (huge, enormous) task! There is a sense of urgency in the kingdom because the time is short and the 'full number of Gentiles' have to come in (Romans 11:25) before the second coming of Jesus when Israel 'will look on the one they have pierced' (Zechariah 12:10) and be saved. The 'Lord of the harvest' is exhorting us to take note that the fields of the earth are ripe for harvest and to join him in his noble endeavour. "I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together." ( John 4:35-36) Amen.