Jesus sent seventy of His disciples out ahead of Him, to where He Himself would subsequently go. They were to speak good news to those they met there, “that the kingdom of God has come near.” They were to bring the blessing, “Peace be to this house. And if a man of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him.” (Luke 10:6) These people of peace appear to be those whose hearts have been prepared in advance to be friendly to the message brought to them. Elsewhere, God is portrayed as the Tiller who causes the growth by advance preparation of the soil. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)
It makes our assignment of sowing the seed of the Gospel much less intimidating, to know of this advance work that God Himself has done, assuring the success of the eventual harvest.
When Paul felt afraid, persecuted and rejected by objectors in Corinth, feeling perhaps that he was the lone believer in a sea of darkness, God comforted him in a vision, “I have many people in this city.” (Acts 18:10) When Elijah ran for his life in fear from Israel’s Queen Jezebel, he wanted to die, feeling he was the only remnant follower of Jehovah and that he was sure to soon be brutally killed. The Lord tells Elijah not only is he not alone, but that there are “7000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal.” (1 Kings 19:18) This army of the faithful in Israel were invisible to Elijah. But God knew who they were.
God did the ground preparation for the planting of the gospel seed in Caesarea, causing Cornelius and his friends and family to be eager seekers of God and receptive to the good news of forgiveness and eternal life through Christ’s substitutionary atonement. The words of the gospel were hardly out of Peter’s mouth when those listening were dramatically filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 10) What an impressive demonstration of God’s advance preparatory work!
Our job as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God is to obediently enter the orchard, looking for the fruit that God has already prepared, cultivated, and nourished. We can be confident that His people are already there, waiting to be picked.
Lord, lead me to the low-hanging fruit which You have been preparing for the harvest. Let me do my part in clarifying their understanding of the gospel of grace and answering any questions they might have, that they might walk through that door of faith, putting their trust in You for eternal life and forgiveness of sin. Let me do my part, knowing that You have done Your part perfectly.