Christmas Reflections 2022 - Day 24
The Mission of Jesus IV - Matt. 9:35-38
Laborers for the Harvest
Matthew summarised the threefold ministry of Jesus Christ –teaching, preaching about the Kingdom, and healing. The purpose of the healing ministry of Jesus was to authenticate his person. Through the ministry that Jesus operated, large crowds were attracted to him.
In these verses, Jesus observed the condition of the people and he had compassion on them; why? They were harassed and helpless and they looked like sheep without Shepherds. The word translated compassion suggests a very strong emotion, it is to feel deep sympathy and Jesus felt this deep sympathy for the people because of their condition. The people were harassed and helpless. They were like sheep at the mercy of wolves, with no shepherd to protect them, no shepherd to lead them. Those who were supposed to be the shepherds, instead of protecting them, could not and did not provide the needed spiritual guidance for selfish reasons. And these “shepherds” were the religious leaders of the day. They kept the sheep away from following the true Shepherd and then exploited them in various ways.
Jesus extended his teaching to the disciples by telling them that the harvest was large and needed more workers; workers that would help the harassed and helpless people.
What Jesus asked of the disciples was for them to pray to God who is the Lord of the harvest to send additional workers that will join in the harvest that was ready.
One of the lessons here is that Jesus’ ministry was not meant to be a lone ministry; the work cannot be done alone. More people are needed and are called to work with him. The prayer that the disciples were asked to pray was to provide the needed workers. It is not surprising then that after Jesus left, the disciples faithfully took up this responsibility of preaching, teaching, and healing.
As people who have experienced the compassion of Jesus, it is our responsibility not just to pray for more laborers but to also be the laborers that will join in the ripe harvest. There are harassed and helpless people all around us, people who are so confused about life, people who don't know where to turn to and it is our responsibility to share the love of Christ with them, not just during Christmas, but at all times.
The religious leaders of the day were not good shepherds; they took advantage of the people. We need to ask ourselves what kind of leaders are we. Do we lead the people to the great Shepherd or do we malign and exploit the people to our advantage and then leave them impoverished, helpless, and worse off?
What the Lord requires are laborers who will faithfully join in the harvest. Are you praying for laborers and are you working at being a faithful laborer?