Introduction: In Matthew 9:37 Jesus said to His disciples, “The
harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Since Jesus is
talking about harvesting souls for the Kingdom of Heaven, I would
add, “and skilled workers are even fewer.” I have the handle of an
old scythe in my garage. Scythes are hand tools for harvesting wheat.
They have a long, curved handle, and a long, narrow blade fastened at
a right angle to the end of the handle. I’ve got an idea about how it
works, but it would take on-the-job training for me to use it
properly. What about harvesting souls? How do we become a skilled
worker at that critical task? Let’s plunge into our study of the
Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. Trial Run

    1. Read Mark 6:7. How many of you served an internship for
      your current job? Is that what we are seeing here, on-the-job training? (Yes. Jesus decides that before He returns
      to heaven, He will give the disciples a practice run, or
      internship, for their ultimate harvesting mission.)

      1. Consider the first two things that Jesus does. Why do
        you think Jesus sent them out in pairs?
      2. Why do you think that the second thing He did was
        give them authority over evil spirits?

      3. Read Ephesians 6:12. In our evangelistic work today,
        do we underestimate the importance of spiritual

    2. Read Mark 6:8-9. When the children were small, we would
      take vacation trips in our motor home. I believed in
      taking spare equipment and parts. I thought this was
      prudent preparation. Are the disciples unprepared? Why
      would they lack even the essentials – like food and money?

      1. Is the idea to teach them true faith and dependence?
        (Read Matthew 10:10. Matthew’s version of this event
        gives Jesus’ reason – and He does not mention
        increasing faith. Instead, Jesus says that those who
        benefit from ministry should support it.)

      2. In the past I’ve had ministries ask me to contribute
        to a fund so that they could accrue enough money to
        “launch” the missionary. More recently, a ministry
        asked me to contribute to the work of close friends.
        Is this a flawed approach? Should those who directly
        benefit from missionary work pay for it? (Read 1
        Corinthians 9:6, 12 and 15. The principle is that
        those who benefit should pay, but it is not a moral
        issue to make them pay.)

    3. Read Mark 6:10. Why not keep a look-out for better
      accommodations? (If you consider all of Jesus’ directions,
      they seem to point to an uncomplicated approach – don’t be
      weighed down by extra stuff and don’t be searching around
      for different places to stay. Focus on the mission of
      sharing the gospel.)

    4. Read Mark 6:11. What lesson should we learn here that will
      help us with our current evangelistic efforts? (We should
      focus on those who want to hear what we have to say.)

      1. Those of you who have read my lessons for many years
        may recall the struggle I had about my elderly
        neighbors. I did all sorts of “works” for them, but
        he did not want to discuss salvation with me, and at
        one point his wife seemed hostile. When they had
        trouble, they would call me to pray, but I never
        converted either of them. I thought it was my
        failure. What does this text suggest? (If some resist
        the gospel, move on to the next person.)

  2. The Message

    1. Read Mark 6:12. Consider the disciples’ message. Should
      that be our message today?

      1. Read Matthew 3:1-2. John preached repentance for
        Jesus was coming. When Jesus came He sent out his
        disciples and they preached repentance. How do you
        combine the message of repentance with having a
        welcoming attitude towards sinners?

    2. Read Luke 5:29-30. The Pharisees wanted sinners to change
      before they ate with them, but Jesus is eating with
      sinners. What would you guess was the first thing that
      Jesus said to the sinners? (I doubt it was “repent.” More
      probably, “Why don’t we eat?”)

    3. Read Luke 5:31-32. What is Jesus’ message? (Repent!)

      1. As a practical matter, what do you think this means?
        Exactly what should we say to people who come to our
        church seeking truth?

        1. When we see something that the new people are
          doing or wearing or eating that is inconsistent
          with our view of what is right, should we call
          them to repent of the doing, wearing or eating?

    4. Read Matthew 21:23 and Matthew 21:32. Who is Jesus
      addressing? (The chief religious leaders. These are people
      who believe in God and seem to have the doing, wearing and
      eating requirements exactly right.)

      1. In this context, what is Jesus asking them to do in
        Matthew 21:32? (Repent of their failure to believe in
        Jesus. John was also preaching faith in Jesus.)

      2. When they refused to “repent” and accept the “way of
        righteousness,” what had they refused? (Grace!
        Righteousness through faith in Jesus.)

      3. Now, let me ask you again, what is it we should be
        telling our visitors about repentance? (They should
        repent of sin, they should repent of believing in
        righteousness through their own works, they should
        accept righteousness through faith in Jesus!)

      4. If we tell visitors looking for truth that they
        should stop doing, wearing or eating something to be
        saved, who needs to repent? (The person suggesting
        that salvation comes through doing, wearing or

    5. Read Matthew 21:28-30. This is the story that lead up to
      the verses we just discussed. Which son did the will of
      the father? (Read Matthew 21:31. Not the son who merely
      said the right things, but the son who did the right

      1. Let’s discuss this. Based on the verses connected to
        this story, I suggested that church people who tell
        visitors that they must stop doing, wearing or eating
        something need to repent. This story says the son who
        does the right thing is the one who pleases the
        father. Was my suggestion wrong? (I trust not.
        Instead, I think this shows us the two sides of
        error. One side of error falls in the ditch of works
        – that you must do or not do something to be entitled
        to salvation. The other side of error falls in the
        ditch of saying sin is fine. You need change nothing.
        The path of truth is that you agree to accept Jesus
        as your only source of salvation and turn your life
        and your will over to Him.)

    6. Read Luke 24:46-49. What does this tell us is our message
      to the world? (Repent and seek forgiveness of sin, and you
      will have righteousness through Jesus’ life, death and

      1. They have the message. Why wait? (The power, the
        skill is promised. We turn to that next.)

  3. The Power

    1. Read Acts 16:6. If our goal is to share the good news
      about Jesus, why would the Holy Spirit keep us from doing
      good work? (The Holy Spirit was not keeping them from
      preaching, He was simply directing where they should not

    2. Read Acts 16:7-10. Have you ever wondered if you should
      share the gospel with a certain person? What kind of aid
      can we expect from the Holy Spirit? (This story teaches us
      that the Holy Spirit will lead us to people who want to
      hear the gospel.)

    3. Read Acts 2:1-3. Why the wind, noise and fire? (Read Acts
      2:4-6. It attracted a crowd. Consider how your church
      attempts to bring seekers into the church.)

    4. Read Acts 2:7-12. If you had a church meeting, and you
      wanted to share the gospel with people who spoke 15
      different languages, how would you do it? (Recall that I
      was blaming myself for not having the best gospel “pitch”
      for my elderly neighbors? The task facing the disciples
      was impossible – 15 (count them) different languages. But
      the Holy Spirit resolved it all.)

      1. What does that teach us about how we should present
        the gospel message? (It tells me that getting the
        right “help” is the most important thing.)

    5. Friend, if you are not sharing the gospel message, will
      you start today? Will you share with those who want to
      hear the message? Will you share repentance and salvation
      by grace alone? Will you pray that the Holy Spirit will
      empower you with the right opportunities, words and

  4. Next week: The Cost of Discipleship.