Jan. 13, 2019

Beseech the Lord of the harvest to send workers

Matthew 9:18-38 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible


While He was saying these things to them, a synagogue official came and bowed down before Him, and said, “My daughter has just died; but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and began to follow him, and so did His disciples.

20 And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; 21 for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” 22 But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.

23 When Jesus came into the official’s house, and saw the flute-players and the crowd in noisy disorder, 24 He said, “Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him. 25 But when the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. 26 This news spread throughout all that land.

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 28 When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them: “See that no one knows about this!” 31 But they went out and spread the news about Him throughout all that land.

32 As they were going out, a mute, demon-possessed man was brought to Him. 33 After the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed, and were saying, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” 34 But the Pharisees were saying, “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.”

35 Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

36 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.38 Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”


Today’s text ends saying:  Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”    How much more, when He sees the people today, does Jesus feel compassion for them because they are distressed and dispirited?  Indeed today, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Even among believers, among the church today, there are relatively few who work in the harvest. We should do more than beseech the Lord to send out workers, we should be those who respond like the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 6:8:  Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!"    

Here’s the thing, being sent into the harvest does not mean that we must travel to a foreign country. It does not mean that we need to minister in the streets of the inner city or in prisons. It does not mean that we need to become an evangelist or a missionary. It simply means that we respond to Christ’s commission in Matthew 28:19-20:  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  We don’t need to preach the gospel to all creation as Jesus commands in Mark 16:15. Every one of us has people around us, at home, in our neighborhoods, at work or school, where we shop and where we play, who are distressed and dispirited. We need to show them the love and compassion of Jesus. The thing is love and compassion is more than simply trying to make people happy or comfortable. Jesus felt compassion because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus wanted them to be part of the harvest. He said go make disciples. The love and compassion of God and Christ was demonstrated in the cross. Romans 5:8 says:  God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  If we have compassion for people we will point them to the cross. We, like Jesus, will want them to be part of the harvest into the kingdom of God.

In the first part of today’s text, we see Jesus healing the woman with the chronic issue of blood. We see Him healing or raising the synagogue official’s daughter to life from death and we see Him restoring sight to the blind. All of these things too, Jesus did because He had compassion for the people. In John 14:12-14 Jesus says:  Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.   Many today seek the power to do the miraculous works that Jesus did. Others try to show the world the love and compassion of Christ. The truth is these are not separate but work hand in hand. In Mark 1 there are also many accounts of Jesus healing various sicknesses and infirmities and also of Him casting out unclean spirits. In verses 35-39 it says:  Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him. When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” But He said to them“Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.”And He was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.   Jesus is the Lord of the harvest and preaching the gospel of the kingdom is why He came.

Jesus sacrifice on the cross is referred to as the Passion of Christ. His love and His compassion were demonstrated by His sacrifice. He came not just to make people comfortable and happy. He came to redeem them, to restore them and make them whole. If we would share and show Christ’s compassion, if we would do the works He did and greater works, we must also like Him desire that the plentiful harvest would be gathered in. In Mark 16, Jesus final words to His disciples before the resurrection reveal the key to the power and compassion of Christ available to us and through us. Mark 16:15-20 says:  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”  So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen. Again, to go into all the world does not require that we travel far. All the world includes our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and everywhere we go. If we have compassion for people, we will be passionate about the gospel. If we will share the gospel, the good news, Jesus will work with us confirming our words with signs and wonders.

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; Thank You for abiding with us and in us. May I truly have the love and compassion for others that You have for me. May my compassion always point them to Your Passion, the demonstration of Your love, on the cross. May I offer Your hope and Your help to those who are distressed and dispirited. Dear Jesus, Lord of the harvest, I beseech You to send workers into Your harvest. I beseech You: Here I am send me.   Amen.