More thanmerely the 12 apostles closely followed Jesus. Here Jesus sends 72 others out to prepare the way in the places he himself was going. Many of these men had been with Jesus since his baptism, and all had closely followed his teachings for some time. Like these 72, before we go where God sends us we must spend time preparing and soaking in the word of God as well as in earnest prayer to God. He sent these disciples in pairs for safety and accountability, a good model for us to follow in our own Christian walk.
72 seems a large number, but Jesus calls the workers few, even when the scope was merely the Jewish area. Today our mission field is the world, and we would do well to follow Jesus' admonition to pray earnestly for laborers, knowing that the laborers he calls may well be us. Then as now, those who proclaim the gospel go out as lambs among wolves. We must be willing to be successful as well as willing to be destroyed. The work may be perilous. Jesus never promises his followers a smooth road paved with ease. "Marvel not if the world hates you" (1 John 3:13). "All that will live godly in Jesus Christ shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim. 3:12).
They were to go as men who had no care for worldly possessions. They carried no possessions, trusted God to provide, and never left one situation of care if a better situation arose. As we focus on God rather than material things, we must also look to give the laborers of today their wages. As we give sacrificially to church workers and missionaries of today, we invest in a kingdom that will never perish.
If you were to look at the average Christian congregation, how many of the members are actually involved in the church's harvesting activities? In America, at least, it seems that many are involved in what meets their needs and their children's needs, but shy away from mission to meet others' needs. We have an abundance of churches, but few workers -- and perhaps few actual disciples. Disciples, you see, are those who follow Jesus in his work, who deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow him. Their discipleship is not a matter of their own comfort but of Jesus' mission. So when I read that "the workers are few," I grieve. I have seen this. Jesus seeks to recruit you as a worker in HIS harvest, not just as an adherent or church-attender. - Ralph F. Wilson