The Importance of Context

In Matthew 9:37‑38, Jesus tells us the key to a great harvest of many people is to ask for more workers. The more we ask, the more workers. The more workers, the greater the harvest. It’s a simple equation.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest , therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field” Matthew 9:37‑38

But to shed more light on this equation it’s important to go back in time to when Jesus first uttered these words to His disciples. He actually said this to them on two different occasions, repeating Himself to them and to us for emphasis (Matt. 9:37-38; Luke 10:2). When these words were spoken there was only Jesus and His few disciples facing the entire world population. My question is simple. Where did they expect the answer to come from. When they heard Jesus tell them to ask the Lord for more workers, in their mind, what would be the source of these workers? The workers for the harvest must come from the harvest. There can be no other intent in the mind of Jesus or His disciples.

Today many church leaders use these words to challenge believers to get out of the pews and into the fields. But there is a problem with this.

  • Most Churches still set out to “make converts” who hopefully become involved in the programs of the Church. This is a closed process. Jesus told us in Matthew 28:19-20 to “make disciples” who make more disciples. This is an open ended multiplication process.
  • If the initial intent is to get people involved in programs that seek to get people outside of the Kingdom to come to the programs, challenging believers to get out of the pews and into the fields is near on impossible.
  • The context of the Matthew passage was Jesus seeing the crowds and having compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. If people live their lives in a Church how are they to have the motivation for those who are harassed and helpless.   

The reality is that the Church has created the above problem and even if it sets out to rectify it (which should be attempted) it usually has limited success. People usually only buy into something once. Unless we look at Matthew 9:37‑38 the same way that Jesus and his disciples did and obey what Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 28:19-20, we will see little positive outcomes into the future. But, if we see that the bulk of future workers will come from the harvest as we make disciple in the harvest, then we will see a Church that is Good News to those without hope.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.