We connect with people when they reveal a bit of their heart. This is a bit difficult for me. I tend to hang back, slow to show too many people the “real” me. Yet I am more convinced that just as we are to know others, we are to be known. That can’t happen until we reveal a bit of our hearts.
I’m so glad that God has revealed his heart throughout the Bible. He is a God who desires to be known. He has revealed Himself through what we see in the world around us and the Word given to us (Psalm 19.)
One of my favorite places where He reveals His heart is in Matthew 9:35-38:
35Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Jesus was traveling, doing three things: teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news and healing every disease and sickness. (It’s interesting as I read this, the parallels between what Jesus did and what SIM seeks to do: Respond to need, Proclaim the gospel, Equip the church.)
As he looked at the crowds (multitudes, throng) of people he saw not just the outside, what is easy to see, but their real needs. They were harassed by disease, illness, (healing) sin, Roman rule, religion (preaching and teaching) the list goes on. Harassed could be read as bullied, a word we hear a lot in our day. Bullied by people, by problems and by perspectives at times. The crowds were helpless to change any of this. Disease offered few cures in that day. Sin affected everyone. Harassed and helpless. The writer then gave a word picture: like sheep without a shepherd.
Sheep are defenseless, helpless animals that need someone to go before them to prepare pasture and protect them. We don’t necessarily like this picture of sheep being equated with us. We don’t want to be defenseless. We want to provide for ourselves and protect ourselves. We seek to be independent. But that’s really not what God made us to be. And when illness strikes, we are reminded of how helpless we really are.
Seeing the crowd this way, he had compassion on them. Here’s where we see His heart. He sees with compassion. He feels for them. His heart goes out to them. There are so many people who are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, he feels compassion for them. Jesus is God. He could make things change in an instant. As made popular in recent Marvel films, he could snap his finger and restore and renew everything. But he doesn’t. What does he do?
Well He DIDN’T make a strategic plan to meet those needs. He didn’t meet those needs himself.
He said pray. Pray earnestly. Pray with your eyes of compassion set on the crowd. Pray to the Lord of the harvest. Ask Him to send workers into his field. Ask Him to send people who could meet those needs, workers to heal, preach and teach.
Then he did something extraordinary. In the verses that follow, Jesus called his 12 disciples and equipped them to do the work that he was doing. His plan to meet the over whelming needs of the throng of people was to pray and multiply workers who would carry on doing the work He was doing. Ordinary people doing extraordinary work.
Are we praying that student pastors are sent from our student ministries? Are we praying that pastors are trained and sent from our churches? Are we praying that missionaries are being equipped from among us? But as you pray, are you willing to be the answer to that prayer? Are you a willing worker to be sent into the need?
The need for workers is here in the US. Cities and towns where the gospel is not taught. Religion may be there, but Jesus isn’t. There are people harassed and helpless in our neighborhoods and towns. Start there. Seek to see as Jesus saw the crowd, with compassion. Ask God for that ability. Pray for workers to be sent into these needs to point them to the Shepherd and the one who has stood up for them, who was lifted on a cross for them. But be willing to be that worker too!
Around the world there is still a need for workers to respond to need. Medical workers are needed to bring healing to diseases that are easily curable, if only there were workers to bring that cure to those areas of the world in need. Teachers who teach students art, English, Bible or math. Workers are needed to proclaim the gospel, to bring the good news of the Kingdom of God to places where it’s not been heard; to plant churches where no gospel-believing church exists. Workers are needed to equip the church; to teach and prepare pastors and missionaries to be sent.
As Director of Prayer & Celebration for SIM USA, Charlie introduced a new prayer initiative called “PRAY9:38” at SIM USA last week. It is based on Matthew 9:38: To pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send workers to respond to need, proclaim the gospel and equip the church.
Would you set an alarm and pause at 9:38 AM or PM with us to pray that God would send workers who would counsel campers, teach English to those who desire to learn, teach art to students, teach refugees, balance financial books, build relationships and point to the Shepherd?
Would you join us to pray for workers, be it here in the US or around the world? Are you willing to be sent? Check out the “Top 10 Most Wanted” positions where workers are needed now, and pray if the Lord would send you to meet the need. Click the graphic to learn more.
Just as God sent Jesus, he seeks to send us – you are sent!