Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV)
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming 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.”
- Jesus’ ministry: teaching, proclaiming, healing.
- Compassion: English, common passion; Greek, splagchnizomai, indicates a pain in the bowels. Compassion is when the hurt of others hurts you. Compassion is a strong emotion that must be grounded in God’s truth in order to rightly diagnose and treat human suffering.
- Sheep without a shepherd: An indictment of Israel’s religious leaders, worthless shepherds who used God’s precious people for their own gain. God has promised to judge Israel’s shepherds, and step in Himself to care for His people (cf. Ez. 34:11).
- The harvest is plentiful: There is never a shortage of lost and hurting people everywhere we go. We will never reach them if we are not intentional to go out and reach them!
- The workers are few: There are few godly people going out and reaching these people.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest: This is Jesus’ prayer request, and one that we can be the answer to!
Matthew 10:1-8 (NIV)
10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
- Sending out the workers: This is an obvious segue from the end of chapter 9. Jesus is empowering and sending the disciples out to reach the lost multitudes. This is a short term mission trip to reach the towns of Israel to prepare them for the Kingdom of heaven.
- Authority: Delegated authority from the Master over the natural and spiritual realms to bring about healing and deliverance, just as He did.
- The Twelve Apostles: Jesus’ ministry was never a “one man show.” His followers were being raised up to do the work of the ministry. Luke’s Gospel mentions the sending of seventy-two disciples, suggesting that even those outside of the twelve were preaching, healing and driving out demons (Luke 10:1-20). Godly leaders produce godly leaders, not mere spectators (cf. Eph. 4:11-16).
- The lost sheep of Israel: Jesus’ earthly ministry was centered on the people of Israel, but His death and resurrection would make a way for the inclusion of Gentiles among God’s flock (cf. John 10:16). We may, therefore, apply this to the “lost sheep” in our midst, whom God desires to gather together, to save and to heal.
- The kingdom of heaven has come near: The heart of Jesus’ message (cf. Mark 1:15). Might make the Jews think of a political kingdom, but Jesus meant that the heavenly kingdom was coming into the world through His death and resurrection, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, who was soon to come.
- Freely you have received, freely give: No one can give what they don’t have. Out of the abundance of blessings and power available to us from Christ, we give freely and generously to all who ask or show need, without reservation.
Will you go into God’s harvest fields? Will you reach the multitudes that are dying without Jesus?