Labor Shortages

Are you reading about labor shortages in the news feeds you follow?

Where in your neighborhood are you seeing examples of labor shortages?

Restaurants come to my mind…

Where has your experience been the opposite of the reported labor shortages?

Grocery stores and food delivery services come to my mind…

What causes labor shortages?

War? Aging out? Unwillingness? Poor work conditions? Fear?

What does a sunflower bloom with a single bee on it have to do with this line of questions about labor shortages?

What does any of this have to do with Bible study?

Read the following verse using two different translations:

ESV  Luke 10:2 And he said to them, “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.

NIV  Luke 10:2 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.

Before looking at the context of this verse consider the following definitions:

Laborer: one that labors specifically : a person who does unskilled physical work for wages

Another word for laborer is worker which is defined as: 1a : one that works especially at manual or industrial labor or with a particular material a factory worker —often used in combination

b : a member of the working class

2 : any of the sexually underdeveloped and usually sterile members of a colony of social ants, bees, wasps, or termites that perform most of the labor and protective duties of the colony.

Read our verse for today again, inserting these definitions for laborers:

ESV  Luke 10:2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but [those who do unskilled physical work for wages] are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out [those who do unskilled physical work for wages] into his harvest.

Or

ESV  Luke 10:2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but [those who perform most of the labor and protective duties] are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out [those who perform most of the labor and protective duties] into his harvest.

Before we go any further,  we need to review the context of Luke 10:2.

Authors Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart in How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour, put our verse today in perspective from Luke 9:51-11:13, stating that this large section is instructional material for Jesus’ followers. Luke 10:2 is part of the challenges and blessings his followers will experience.

What are the challenges mentioned in Luke 10:2?

  1. The harvest is plentiful
  2. The laborers or workers are few
  3. Prayer is needed

What are the blessings mentioned in Luke 10:2?

  1. The harvest is plentiful
  2. God is the Lord of the harvest
  3. God will send more laborers or workers if asked for via prayer

Why is  “the harvest is plentiful” listed as both a challenge and a blessing?

  1. A plentiful harvest typically means one has a short window of opportunity to gather or preserve the produce before it will spoil.
  2. A plentiful harvest  is exciting and encouraging as it means there will be plenty to enjoy and share with others.
  3. What other reasons might you include?

Luke 10:2 is not speaking about an agricultural harvest though.

ESV  Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.

ESV  Luke 10:5-12 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’

6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.

7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house.

8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you.

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

10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say,

11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless, know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’

12 I tell you; it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

What were Jesus’ followers commissioned to do for people they would meet for Jesus’ arrival?

  1. Jesus’ followers were to extend peace to those who received them.
  2. Jesus’ followers were to be gracious for the hospitality given them by those who received them.
  3. Jesus’ followers were to heal the sick of those who received them.
  4. Jesus’ followers were to inform those who received them that the kingdom of God has come near.
  5. Jesus’ followers were to wipe off the dust of the town where people rejected them.
  6. Jesus’ followers were to also tell those who rejected them that the kingdom of God has come near.
  7. Jesus’ followers were to also tell those who rejected them that the judgment Sodom received (see Ge 19:24-28) would be more bearable than their own.

Jesus’ harvest talk is about the coming of the kingdom of God.

We are told in this passage that the harvest is ripe for the coming kingdom of God.

We are also told that the laborers or workers are few.

If we are followers of Jesus,’ then we are those who perform most of the labor and protective duties for the coming kingdom of God.

We are to be gracious people of peace who bring healing and encouragement to those around us who welcome us.

If people reject us, then we are to move on but not before sharing that they need to prepare for the coming kingdom of God.

Reflection Questions

  • Are you a Jesus follower?
  • How do you demonstrate to those around you that you are a Jesus follower?
  • Are you a person who brings peace to others? Why or why not?
  • Are you gracious for what you receive as a wage for your labor? Why or why not?
  • How have you helped to heal the sick of those with whom you interact? Physically? Mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? Other? Why or why not?
  • Are you able to share what your experience has been with God and Jesus with others?

Be encouraged by Jesus’ further instructions to his followers in Luke 10:

ESV  Luke 10:16-20 “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” 17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Back to the sunflower bloom with a lone bee.

May that picture remind us in the week to come as we prepare for the American traditional Thanksgiving holiday that our perspective of labor shortages should be different than those who have rejected Jesus.

Instead, we should be gracious and peaceful as we pray for the Lord of the harvest to provide those who perform most of the labor and protective duties for our communities. Spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Are you willing to be a laborer for the Lord of the Harvest?

How have you experienced the Lord’s provision as you followed Jesus’ instructions?

I would love to hear your stories of thanksgiving this week!

Blessings,

Barbara Lynn

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