Summary: What do tending sheep and harvesting crops have to do with church? Let’s look at some important farm lessons that apply to our local church in Matthew 9:35-10:8.
What do tending sheep and harvesting crops have to do with church? Let’s look at some important farm lessons that apply to our local church in Matthew 9:35-10:8.
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. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-36 NKJV)
Pastor means shepherd. The ideal national leader is pictured as a caring shepherd. When sheep are not fed and cared for, they become “distressed and dispirited” (NASB). People are burdened by leaders with vain traditions and bad ideas, weighed down in ignorance, neglected and scattered abroad without care and attention.
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38 NKJV)
Metaphorically, the Great Commission is a harvest, with few field workers. Jesus encourages us to pray the Lord would urgently drive workers into the fields. Jesus calls us to a compelling mission. Perhaps one of the major problems of the Church is that we don’t have a sense of urgency.
And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. (Matthew 10:1-4 NKJV)
There were 12 disciples, 12 Patriarchs, 12 tribes and 12 gates in New Jerusalem. Apostle means “one sent.” Jesus gave them a little of the power that He revealed during His earthly ministry. As the 12 Patriarchs were the Fathers of Israel, these men became the Fathers of the Church.
These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:5-8 NKJV)
How were “the lost sheep” lost? Were they not being led “in the paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23)? Had their [national and religious shepherds] led them astray (Jeremiah 50:6)? Had THEY “gone astray like a lost sheep” (Psalm 119:176)? Have our modern day shepherds been leading us astray?
Who is lost? Who does not go to church, has no friends, is an addict, is depressed, feels abandoned, is materialistic, has ruined their lives in sexual immorality, has bad anger issues, thinks that theft is an appropriate way to live? The lost are everywhere and they are our assignment.
Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food. “Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. (Revelation 14:9-13 NKJV)
A small child can be led by the hand of a faithful parent or grandparent. They trust the one who leads them. Do we trust the one who leads us? Can we go, not knowing where, but knowing that the One whose hand we hold will always lead us faithfully?
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. (Revelation 14:14-20 NKJV)
The harvest is ready (Revelation 14:14-20). The harvest is thrown “into the great winepress of the wrath of God.” The blood of the grape symbolizes Armageddon (Revelation 16:12-16; Joel 3:13). The wheat and tares (Matthew 13:36-43) grow together until harvest. May we be among the righteous!