Seeing the Need and Joining the Harvest
February 23, 2020
- When you look at other people, what do you see? Do you see people as challenges to be avoided? Hard personalities to be sidestepped? Maybe you see people as possible friends.
- The way we see people has everything to do with spiritual sight. When Jesus saw the crowds, He was moved by them He saw people not as problems to be contended with, He saw them through eyes of compassion
- One of my prayers is that God would use this text to write for us a new prescription for our eyesight.
- We go to the eye doctor to get checked out because from time to time our sight gets out of focus, and we need a new prescription. We lose focus on God’s mission, and I pray that He would restore our sight once again, that we might see people as God sees them, and move towards them in love and obedience.
I. Jesus went mobile with the gospel, moved by compassion (verses 35-36)
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction (verse 35).
- Jesus kept His mission priority. He knew what He was sent to do – which was proclaim the hope of the kingdom of God, the gospel. And that mobilized Him. He went to where people were – to their towns and villages, and cities. He didn’t sit back and wait for people to come to them, He went to them.
- Jesus’ motivation was he had compassion on people.
When He saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (verse 36).
- Jesus had compassion on the crowds, because the crowds didn’t know the hope and forgiveness that He came to bring to them. They didn’t know the joy of sins forgiven, of consciences cleansed, of guilt released.
- The term in the original language carries the connotation of “being moved in one’s stomach with pity.”
- Seven times in the gospels we are told that Jesus had compassion on those He saw. This was a theme about the coming Messiah in the OT as well. He would be marked by compassion, by pity for others(see Is. 53).
- This wasn’t some passing sense of simply feeling sorry for them. He was moved by their “lostness.” He cared about the plight of others.
- We have to be honest and confess that compassion doesn’t come naturally to us. Self-centeredness comes naturally, which is why we need to pray.
- We need to ask the Lord, “Help us to care about others, Lord. Give us your eyes for people. Help us to be moved with mercy and compassion towards others. Help us to care about our neighbors and friends to be willing to sacrifice for them, to love them.”
- Why did Jesus care so much? Because people were “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Those who don’t know the Lord are wandering through life, aimlessly, looking for something or someone to attach themselves to in order to find some meaning to life. They are like sheep without a shepherd.
- What does a shepherd do?
- A shepherd guides the sheep to green pastures where they gain nourishment and thrive.
- A shepherd defends and protects.
- A shepherd has a plan for the sheeps good, and knows how to get the sheep there.
- A shepherd is a blessing to the sheep, for without a shepherd they’ll be scattered, hapless, helpless.
- Without a shepherd, sheep get lost, they get caught in deceptive thickets and die
- Some who do not know Christ outwardly look outwardly together, but if we can see through the thin veneer of what the world calls success, we see sheep who desperately need a shepherd and they often don’t know it.
- Do we see people and have compassion on them?
- Everyone you will ever meet with live for eternity – either in heaven or in hell. Having the eyes of Jesus for people makes all the difference in the world. If we stop and see people who don’t know Christ as walking on a pathway towards eternal judgment, that will change our perspective. This reality should stir compassion and a heart to pray and reach out.
II. The Lord is sending out laborers (verses 37-38)
Then He said to His disciples, ‘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.’
- Jesus says that the harvest is ripe – its plentiful. That is true today just like it was in the time of Christ. There are people who are ready to hear and receive the news of Jesus. Yes there will be those who flat out reject Him. But there are others who will desire Him. God’s harvest is plentiful, and it will be accomplished
- “But laborers are few”…. He is looking for willing workers! We make all kinds of excuses why we can’t join Him. We lose sight of the priority of the kingdom. We can think of many good things we are doing and leave this kind of work to the professionals – pastors, evangelists, teachers, others. But Jesus doesn’t make those distinctions here. He’s simply calling for laborers to join Him in the harvest. It is hard – that’s why its called labor. But it is joyful labor — to proclaim the most glorious news in all the world!
- So how does Jesus direct us to respond? Two ways: we pray, and we go. “Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the field.”
- We pray
- We ask God to help us overcome our reluctance, our fears, our misgivings, our unwillingness to let go of a comfortable life
- We pray earnestly!
- Prayer with passion behind it
- Prayer that is willing in heart
- Prayer in church, prayer in care group, prayer for the men on Thursday mornings, prayer around the dinner table, prayer in your closet with just you and your Lord
Whenever God determines to do a great work, He first sets His people to pray. — Charles Spurgeon
- We know that the gospel will be opposed at times, for it is a stumbling block to those who don’t believe. If this was a natural work, we wouldn’t need to pray. But this is supernatural work, so we must pray. And in the face of opposition, and even persecution, we persevere in the power of Christ
- We go
- In compassion, we take steps towards other people. If we are His disciples, this invitation is for us, not someone else. It doesn’t depend on spiritual giftedness or personality.
- God has given us the Holy Spirit as we go
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).
- So we pray, and we go, with God’s power.
- Are you ready to join in the Harvest of God’s people? Are you ready to sow in fields where it won’t be easy? Are you willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations, for the kingdom, for the gospel? Let us respond to this prayer to send workers into the harvest like the prophet Isaiah, who said, “Here am I. Send me”
- We can be relatively comfortable in praying prayers like “Lord, send your workers into the harvest.” But when God, through His Holy Spirit says “Go!” to us, are we going to be willing? Ready?
- God guarantees the success of His Word. It will accomplish everything for which it is sent forth. It will never return void. He will call people by His Word. He will regenerate people by His Word.He guarantees the success of His Word. So we can go forward with that hope.
- Remember – who is in charge of the harvest? Who is the Lord of the Harvest? He is. Do you think He’s going to let the Harvest fail? No, He’s going to accomplish His mission. And He intends to use you and me.
Practical Outreach Opportunities
- Lord, open our eyes and our hearts
- Help us to see people as You see them
- Help us to go and join You in the labor of the harvest!
Questions For Discussion/Application:
- Re-read the text, Matthew 9:35-38. What initial observations and insights do you have from reading this text?
- When you think of reaching out to people who don’t know Christ, what are the biggest personal hindrances you face?
- Re-read verse 36. When Jesus saw people He had compassion on them.
- What does it mean to to truly have compassion on on another person? How is compassion different than simply feeling sorry for someone?
- How can we cultivate hearts of compassion towards the lost?
- What does it mean to truly be a laborer in the harvest? Perhaps think in terms of your family, your neighborhood, and your workplace. What does would it look like for you to be a “laborer” for the harvest in each of those spheres?
- What is one thing you can do personally (or with your family) to reach out to the lost? Who is someone you might be able to invite to church on Easter or to the Spring Bridge course?
- Brainstorming session: What is one thing we could do as a Care Group together to reach out to the lost?
- What lost people are you specifically praying for? Perhaps take time as a group to pray for the lost you know.