Matthew 9:35-3835And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and every weakness and infirmity. 36When He saw the throngs, He was moved with pity and sympathy for them, because they were bewildered (harassed and distressed and dejected and helpless), like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38So pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest.
As Jesus was going all over healing and teaching and preaching the gospel, throngs of people surrounded Him. It says in verse 36 when He saw the throngs He was moved with compassion for them because they were hopeless. It says they were like sheep without a shepherd. Now I hate to say it but sheep are not known for being very intelligent animals. Thus the reason they have a shepherd, to lead them, to guide them, to protect them and to keep them going in the right direction. Jesus was concerned about the people because He saw that they didn’t have anyone to guide them. In John 21 we see the story of Jesus after His resurrection as He meets with some of His disciples. He talks to Peter in verse 15-17- 15When they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these [others do–with reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father]? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You [that I have deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend]. He said to him, Feed My lambs. Verses 16 & 17 contain the same question- Jesus says, “Peter do you love me?” Peter says “Yes”, and Jesus says “then feed my sheep”. Even after all that time Jesus was still concerned with the people. He wanted to make sure they had someone to be the shepherd in their lives.
In verse 37 He says the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. There were plenty of religious leaders running around- everywhere Jesus went they were critiquing Him. There were lots of disciples- more than just the twelve followed Him around. There were many people that were affected by the ministry of Jesus. How then could He say that the laborers are few? Perhaps although many knew the truth, they were unwilling to put in the work necessary to share that truth with others. This made me think about the modern day church. I wonder if Jesus would say the same thing today. There are many churches throughout the world, many religious leaders, many people who call themselves followers of Christ. But I have to wonder how many of them are truly concerned with reaching the lost. How many of them are willing to put forth the effort to share the truth of the gospel with the people they meet. Are you willing? Are you willing to become one of the laborers? Are you willing to proclaim the good news of the gospel to those you come into contact with?
Matthew 9:10-13 10And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and [especially wicked] sinners came and sat (reclined) with Him and His disciples. 11And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and those [preeminently] sinful? 12But when Jesus heard it, He replied, Those who are strong and well (healthy) have no need of a physician, but those who are weak and sick. 13Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy [that is, readiness to help those in trouble] and not sacrifice and sacrificial victims. For I came not to call and invite [to repentance] the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God), but sinners (the erring ones and all those not free from sin)
The Pharisees were sure a grumpy bunch of men weren’t they? They were always going around asking Why is Jesus doing this? And Why is Jesus saying that? Why did He do it that way? And why didn’t He do it like this? It seems they always found something to complain about, or question where Jesus was concerned. That’s a whole other subject though. On this particular occasion, the Pharisees were wondering why Jesus spent so much time with sinners. I love this because Jesus states clearly His purpose for being on earth,( and our purpose as well). He says, I hang out with sinners because they need me. I don’t need to spend time with those who are righteous. I need to pour myself out to those who are living in sin so I can give them an opportunity to experience freedom.
Do we spend most of our time with other believers? Or are we spending our time with the lost, reaching out to them with the love of Christ? Now I am not saying hanging out with other believers is a bad thing. We need fellowship and times with those of like mind and heart, building each other up, and encouraging one another. However, there comes a time when we also need to look outside of the four walls of our churches and realize that there is an entire world waiting for us. Jesus said those who are strong and healthy have no need of a physician. In Mark 16:15 Jesus said 15And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole human race]. All the world doesn’t necessarily mean other countries. Where is your world- The grocery store? The daycare where you drop your kids off everyday? Your place of employment? My husband always says, “On the other side of your obedience, there’s a people group waiting for you.” Again, a people group isn’t necessarily another nationality (though it could be), but in actuality your people group might be the moms in your neighborhood, or the guys in your office, or the kids in your classroom, or the couples in your gym. The possibilities are endless. If you will be obedient to spread the Gospel of Jesus wherever you are, you will be able to reach that people group that is waiting just for you, giving them hope, freedom and an opportunity for new life.