35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

Matt 9:35-38 (NIV)

In our verses for today, Matthew concisely summarizes Jesus’ threefold earthly ministry – teaching, preaching and healing. This summation was to demonstrate, particularly to his Jewish readers, that Christ was indeed their long awaited Savior. All of our Lord’s actions were intended to have convinced the Jewish people that God’s hand was moving at this time in His-story to accomplish His purposes. Yes, the time had fully come. His hearers were in turn each held responsible to repent – turn from their sin and wickedness – and believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

“When a person sees the excellence of the gospel, he senses the beauty and loveliness of the divine scheme of salvation. His mind is convinced that it is of God, and he believes it with all his heart. The light of the gospel is the glory of Christ, his holiness and beauty. Clearly, it is this divine light, shining into our hearts, that enables us to see the beauty of the gospel and have a saving belief in Christ. This supernatural light shows us the superlative beauty and loveliness of Jesus, and convinces us of His sufficiency as our Saviour. Only such a glorious, majestic Saviour can be our Mediator, standing between guilty, hell-deserving sinners such as ourselves, and an infinitely holy God. This supernatural light gives us a sense of Christ that convinces us in a way nothing else ever could.” Jonathan Edwards

Go figure – it is no different today – we are to turn and believe. God was and is the Giver of repentance and faith both at the beginning of and throughout the Christian life. Funny thing, God never changes. We can rest secure in the unchangeable Lord and His life giving Word:

6 “I the LORD do not change.” Mal 3:6 (NIV)

17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 (NIV)

89 Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Psalms 119:89 (NIV)

Next we discover the compassion our Lord here demonstrated to the harassed and helpless – which is everyone apart from Christ if they are honest. It is not a pretty sight when sheep are left without a shepherd. They are bothered by wolves, bothered by parasites and bothered by their thick coats. They are senseless wanderers in a trackless waste and they are unable to help themselves. We are quite like them. Jesus looked at the lot of human suffering before His holy eyes and His soul felt deep compassion. Nothing incites us to such deep soul sympathy like seeing suffering in which the sufferer has no way of eliminating – helpless to change their lot. That’s the compassion Jesus was feeling as he looked upon the hurting humanity in His vision. He hurt because they hurt. Never subscribe to the wrong theory that the Lord Jesus does not care about our pain, problems or predicaments – even if He is silent, even if the wind keeps blowing – He cares and He cares deeply. He rises to show us compassion. That is what His passion was all about. I am reminded of the Prophet Isaiah’s words:

18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)

"While I regarded God as a tyrant I thought my sin a trifle; But when I knew Him to be my Father, then I mourned that I could ever have kicked against Him. When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so, and sought my good." C.H. Spurgeon

Lastly, Jesus describes the great sea of human need by stating the harvest was plentiful. In every generation it is so. We are to open our eyes and ears to our spheres. Have you ever seen or heard of so much pain and need and hurting – it is indeed rampant. We too live in a time of a plentiful harvest. Jesus tells us to pray, asking the Lord of the harvest to send forth workers into the fields. He not only asks us to pray, but He also commands us to “Go”! Go to the neighbor, co-worker, waitress or classroom. Go to the furthest ends if God is leading. If He sets before our eyes a need – we are the ones to fill it or at the very least, to do our parts. If we have two feet and a heartbeat and we are His children there is a plan for our life and He is desirous for us to walk in it. Furthermore, we should be desirous to walk in it as well for it is good and pleasing and perfect and always for our best interest and His glory.

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matt 28:18-20 (NIV)

What I Glean

  • I am held responsible to turn in repentance from wickedness and sin and believe in Jesus.
  • God never changes.
  • I am not only to pray for God to send out workers into the harvest field but also to be a worker in His field.