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Summary: Christ’s challenge for his disciples to join the harvest.

Joining the Harvest

Matthew 9:35-38

(Preached to a mission’s church in Campeche, Mexico)

Tonight I want to share with you a picture of the heart of Jesus. In Matthew 9, beginning in verse thirty-five we have a marvelous disclosure of what motivated the ministry of Jesus. He came to heal, and to reach out to sinful people who deserved only the judgment of God. But such is the heart of the Savior that he reached out in love to the undeserving. He is still doing that today, and he is inviting us to join Him in reaching our world with the good news of the Gospel.

“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (36) But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (37) Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. (38) Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."


It says “but” when Jesus “saw the multitudes. He was moved with compassion.” In other words, he did not see them but he saw their need. There are now 6.2 billion people in the world today. Multitudes in Campeche, in Mexico and around the world who are lost in their sins. Jesus compared them to “sheep having no shepherd,” “weary and scattered.” He saw their lost condition. He saw them as sheep who are lost without a shepherd. Those who should have been their shepherds were largely responsible for their confusion and hopelessness. The religious leaders of their day, like those found in Mexico and other places today offer a religion that added burdens instead of lifting them. Many of those who should be shepherds are actually keeping people out of the heaven but distorting and contradicting the word of God. They are leading the lost to be content with themselves, telling the lost that they work their way into heaven, by participating in some ritual. I have witnessed people walking on their knees done the aisle of a cathedral trying to gain God’s attention. I have seen people beating themselves with whips to prove their sincerity of their repentance. I have even seen people allow themselves to be crucified to gain God’s forgiveness. I want to shout, “Get up, get up, Jesus has paid it all. What you want God’s offering to you, all you must do is accept it.”

Consequently the people are left weary, desolate and defenseless. Jesus knew that because they were without God and they were therefore without hope. Do we see people like that? And do we pity them? Do we feel compassion for them? That is our need, to feel compassion because of their need. Jesus saw the multitude and was moved with compassion for them. May we do likewise.

One of my most favorite New Testament word pictures is the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15) which shows the compassionate heart of God. The Prodigal son was walking home with his head bowed low with shame. His father sees his son, who has spent all his money, ran with the wrong crowd, and miserably failed his family. The loving father looks past the sin and despair and sees the son that he loves and rushes down the road to put his arms around him.

On another occasion reported in John 4: 35 after having a conversation with the Samarian woman at the well Jesus spoke to his disciples. “Do you not say, There are still four months and then comes the harvest? Behold I say to you lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest.” It has the sound of a rebuke. Had the disciples regarded Samaria as a most unlikely field? He they failed to see the harvest all around them?

Jesus did not pity and do nothing but he said get the sickle and harvest them. Jesus did not see them as always being in that situation but he saw them being transformed into a different sphere. He saw the lost being saved. He saw sinners becoming saints. He saw the guilty being set free. He saw the unforgiven being forgiven. He saw those deserving of hell getting grace. Instead of moaning and groaning about the bad state of affairs he magnified the expectancy and hopefulness that is anticipated in the harvest.

Do we see those around us as potential saints? We see so much getting worse and worse, that we never see the potential in the world. But where there is a lost soul and where grace still reigns supreme, there is hope and there is a potential saint. No matter how “good” or how “bad” they are, there is potential.

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Michael Stover

commented on Sep 26, 2006

Excellent outline and basic exposition.

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