'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. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”' Matthew 9:35-38
Describe what Jesus does which a good description of what the church should do: teach, share good news, and be agents of healing in this world.
It shows how Jesus sees the crowds and the people among them. He doesn’t look at the crowds scornfully with judgment, but rather his view of each person fills him with compassion. He knows that they have not been shepherded. We, as his followers, need to see the broken world around us and among us as Jesus does; harassed and helpless (even if they don’t know it).
Jesus’ solution for each person in the world is that they would have a shepherd. Every sheep needs a shepherd. He is that Good Shepherd. Though Jesus is the good shepherd, each person needs someone here and now, that can be touched, felt, seen and heard. Jesus, being a real person, only lived in one place and time. So, it rolls his greater plan:
First—the vision. To the disciples, when all you see are harassed and helpless people, you can’t imagine that changing. Jesus tells them that there is a plentiful harvest that they currently live among; in fact, the group of people they stood among at that time was an undeveloped harvest field. But not just any harvest field, but a rich, bountiful harvest. For us, there is a huge harvest waiting. God is seeking to bring many people back to Him and His family. That is true of us as well. Jesus, when he looks at our world, he sees a tremendous harvest all around.
Therefore—pray—for what? Jesus calls us to pray for more people, servants, work in the harvest field. Mixing metaphors, since there is a tremendous harvest among the harassed and helpless sheep, how do we harvest that—from new shepherds. Only a shepherd can incarnate the tangible love, grace, and care that reflect Jesus’ compassion for those who are harassed and helpless.
This inevitably leads to more shepherds, more groups, more churches, more safe places where sheep can receive God’s shepherding care. This means that Biblical church growth is tied to a number of people that a church can effectively care for and disciple.
This is a movement prayer. This is a prayer that expects much of God to raise great loving care and shepherding love out of his people for a greater and greater harvest. For years now, I have paused at 9:38 am each day to realign myself to Jesus’ way of ministry and to ask Him to raise up more workers for a harvest.
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