Summary: Jesus has compassion on the lost. The field are white, but if we fail to do nothing, the harvest may rot.
The Rotting Harvest
Her husband, the love of her life and father of her children had just died. It was a heart attack in the middle of the night. Filled with shock and grief, she struggled to make sense of the events of the past 24 hours. He was so young. He seemed so strong. Why God? Why now?
John had always been so self-sufficient, so self-assured. He had handled the family farming business from beginning to end, from the purchasing of the seed, to the planting of the crop, to the fertilizing and all the way through to bringing the harvest into the local co-op. But now he was gone. How would they ever survive?
As she looked out into the fields that were ready to harvest, tears began to stream down her cheek. It was impossible. Even if she worked morning, noon, and night –she would never be able to collect the harvest before most of it had rotted in the fields. All of John’s labor of love, his planting and cultivating of these crops would be lost. The work was just too great for her and her small children. She needed a miracle, and so she began to pray.
What do you do when the work seems too overwhelming? What do you do when the harder you try, the more you seem to fall behind? What do you do when you feel like you are all alone in the work, and no one is near by to help you carry the load?
Most of us either get angry that no one is helping, or we throw up our hands in exhaustion and give up. Some struggle and keep trying, but eventually even the strongest and most determined worker among us will quit when confronted with a task that never seems to get finished.
Do you know that Jesus grew weary and overwhelmed also? Do you know that Jesus, in His humanity, struggled with the immensity of the work? Do you know that Jesus recognized that the work the Father had given Him to do was too great for one man to accomplish? Does that sound like heresy? Turn with me to Matthew 9:35-38.
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. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harasses and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 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.”
Theme: The harvest is rotting in the fields. so get involved.
1. Pray for compassion for the lost.
The language of this passage is powerful. Jesus has been busy. He has traveled throughout Galilee, entering every town and village, hoping to reach the lost sheep of Israel. As He has traveled he has preached the Good News, He has taught the people Kingdom principles, and He has healed individuals from all kinds of diseases and afflictions.
But something else has happened to the heart of Jesus, the man. His compassion for the people has grown. His frustration over the immensity of the problems and needs has driven Him to His knees, and He has become increasingly aware that He is just one man. Yes, He is the Savior. Yes, He will do what no other man can do - He will die for the sins of the world. Yes, He will make it possible for every man, woman and child on this planet to be forgiven and saved. But He cannot reach them all alone. There are just too many people, and too many needs.
Compassion floods His heart. The Word compassion is an interesting word. It literally means: with passion. Compassionate people are filled with feelings for others. They feel the pain and the suffering of others. They hurt. They want to help. They want to ease the pain and heartache of others. They have a sense of what it is like to be in the skin of another person, to know their sorrow.
Jesus uses words that create a picture.
The crowds of people are harassed. The Greek language is literally ‘to be flayed, or skinned”. Imagine the horror of watching people who have been skinned by their problems, their wound are open and festering, their bodies mangled and torn by some disaster, and that is how Jesus described the masses of people He encountered along the way. The pain and suffering of people was so great, their lives in such agony, that the Word Jesus would choose to describe them is someone who has been skinned alive.
Then He describes them as helpless. This Greek word is also full of imagery. It was used to describe a battle scene where the bodies were scattering the fields, some lying in their own blood, others broken and bruised and moaning for someone to come and heal them. It was also used to describe a person who collapses out of utter and complete exhaustion, like a runner who cannot run another step and who collapses alongside the road. Jesus saw people as exhausted, worn out, broken, bruised, and bleeding.