Sermon on Matthew 9:35-10:8; 9:23

June 14, 2020

Jesus was going from town to town, from synagogue, preaching and teaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. And the next verse says: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” It was at that moment, Jesus realized that there were too many in distress and at that moment, He called His disciples together and said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send our workers into his harvest field.”

He called His twelve disciples and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. Jesus had a balanced ministry which included preaching, teaching, healing, and expressing the compassionate love for the multitudes that motivated Him. He wants His disciples to share His love for the needy multitudes. To have a missionary vision we must be close to Jesus, hear His words, and see our world as Jesus sees it. We may see the multitudes in a variety of ways. Some of these make us ready to condemn the multitudes. Jesus, however, always sees people as a harvest, ready to be gathered.

A harvest has several characteristics: 1) It is valuable; 2) It must be gathered, or it will be lost; and 3) It is urgent. Time moves quickly and then the opportunity is lost. Jesus calls for harvesters who care for the multitudes. Prayer moves our own hearts to the harvest and moves others to reach out in evangelism and mission. Beloved, as Christians become concerned about multiplied millions who have never heard the good news of Jesus Christ, prayer is our first recourse. Prayer moves God and brings promise of response. Prayer also opens our eyes to see our spiritual resources and to see the person of Christ. In this particular case, our prayer asks God to send harvesters into the field.

Jesus looked with compassion upon the crowd of people following Him. They were spiritually destitute and worn down, like a neglected flock of sheep, wandering around with no shepherd. A compassion for the oppressed seeks action to alleviate their need. Jesus sought to awaken compassion in His disciples, and cause them them to meet the needs of the spiritually neglected. Workers to reach out to the neglected people were few then, and they still are too few today. In our current environment, we have law enforcement under attack, people of many backgrounds who feel they have been under attack for ever, we have governmental entities on the local, state and federal levels who are under attack and even our President as well. People are hurting in body, spirit and mind, and there are way too few workers for the harvest. Jesus is calling us to compassion, not to condemnation for the oppressed.

Do we have all the answers, “I say no.” Do we just leap out there and tell everyone just to calm down, “Again, I say, no.” Christ commanded His disciples to pray that God will call and send our workers to declare the gospel and reap the harvest. Two great needs are for the lost to recognize their desperate condition and for Christians to follow Christ’s call to evangelize them. This requires our prayers: prayer for the lost and for Christians to share the good news. Prayer is a major key to effective evangelism, first because we gain strength of our own spirit to be able to effectively share Christ’s love with those who are hurting themselves and second, in our prayer lives we are in a position to hear God’s guidance in the proper way to minister to the needy people who are the harvest.

Jesus was sent to renew the people of Israel. Jesus chose twelve men from the wider group of disciples to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. God began His people Israel with twelve sons of Jacob and twelve tribe. The twelve were chose to represent Jesus to Israel through their preaching and healing. They proclaimed that in Jesus the Messianic Age had dawned upon Israel and the world.

Jesus sent out His twelve apostles to minister to the needs of “the lost sheep of Israel.” With that limited commission, He gave them power to heal the sick and raise the dead. This was special power for a special need at a particular time. Such power is not promised to all disciples as they go out to serve the Lord, but Christian compassion will cause disciples to minister to the sick and afflicted and to claim every blessing for the sick that God has promised. We must use all means possible to minister to the sick.

So where does this leave us, beloved, you and me? Are we to just pray and hope for the best? Are we to small or too large to be effective in trying to minister to others? I say, “You just start wherever you start and don’t worry about how many are hurting, just respond to the hurt. Be obedient to God’s call on our lives at this special time, by responding to this particular need and this special time and to reap the harvest for our Lord. Amen

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