“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2
Continuing the discovery of this verse:
Ok, this is reminiscent of a certain debate in the ‘90’s … but “is” does have specific meaning. And it’s not really open to debate.
“Is” is one of those words that is so foundational to our communication that it is, however, a little difficult to clearly and precisely define.
Miriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines “is” as, “present 3rd singular of be.”
Not particularly helpful, I continued looking…
The American-English Online Dictionary had a bit more to offer including several definitions of “be” including, “to have the quality of being (as in ‘John is rich’),” “identical to something (as in ‘John is the president of the company’),” “to occupy a certain position or area (as in ‘John is somewhere’),” “to exist (as in ‘there is a God’),” etc.
The main point is that “is” is definitive. It makes a statement. It makes a claim. It declares something. It stands.
“Is” doesn’t leave room for “possibly,” “perhaps,” “could,” or “might.”
Now I might make a bold claim and state that “this is that,” but you could come along and challenge my claim. You could say, “No, no, no, you’ve got it all wrong. This is not that.” We are both making definitive statements, but one of us is wrong.
But in this passage Jesus is telling us that something “is.” This is huge as we consider what this passage is conveying. If Jesus tells us something “is” it holds infinitely more weight than you or I making a similar claim.
We don’t have “possibly” with Jesus. We don’t have “perhaps” or “could” or “might” with Him here. He says simply, “The harvest is…”
What does Jesus mean when he says something “is”?
Go back for a moment to your elementary school lessons on the conjugation of the verb “to be.”
I – am.
You – are.
He/she/it – is
How many statements did Jesus make that begin with that? “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will not die.” “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry. He who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (there are more, but you get the idea.)
We place huge value on Jesus declaring things to be true.
And we should also do so when we read that “the harvest is…”
It is a declared certainty. It is a given. It is a foundational truth. It is a trustworthy and true statement.
So what are the implications for us?
If this is true (and we can have complete assurance that it is) then we can look for it. We can know with utter confidence that the harvest exists. It exists perpetually in all generations and will continue to do so until the end.
We don’t have to waste any time wondering if there is a harvest here or there – the harvest is…
One of my students asked me recently why I care about missions. She asked, “if you know that God will save those whom He calls, why do you go to places to help people working in missionary efforts?”
Two things immediately came to mind.
First of all, Romans 10:14 says this: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
For some inexplicable (yet amazing) reason, God has deemed human communication his method of choice to reveal himself to mankind. He could have imprinted knowledge of himself on our brains. He could have stamped, irrevocably, into rocks or mountains all we needed to know about Him. He could have emblazoned it in the stars. (Some might argue that he did, in fact do all these things, but he did these things in a way that we might know there is a God, but not in a way that we can know that Jesus died on a cross and died for our sins).
No, he chose to use spoken and written words – from one person to another – to reveal himself and his plan for humanity.
But the second thing that came to mind is equally as important – and that is the foundational truth that there is a harvest to be worked in. There are people – in every land – who belong to Him who have yet to hear of Him. There is no doubt. It’s not a “possibly,” “perhaps,” “could,” or “might.”
The harvest is…
Go confidently, then, and work in the harvest that we know exists.