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.”
My life verse and its follow-up…
It’s funny how he switches metaphors here. First the heart of a shepherd: compassion, caring. Then the harvest.
Two things about the harvest:
- It’s plentiful
- The workers are few.
I notice his solution isn’t to recruit more workers. It’s to ask the Lord of the harvest to recruit them.
It’s like the oft-quoted Matthew 7:7-8, which isn’t about door-knocking or opportunity-creating.
It’s about prayer.
Matthew 9 is filled with healing, forgiving, casting out demons. It’s here the Holy Spirit leads Matthew to talk about Jesus’s shepherd’s heart. Jesus does all the stuff he does here out of compassion, out of a calling to shepherd God’s people, whose leaders have abandoned them.
And to pray—to ask the Lord of the Harvest for more workers. More shepherds.
Notice, too, that Matthew himself is in this story, near the beginning of the chapter. He’s called to follow Jesus, he invites his old friends to party with his new friend, and the leaders don’t like it.
I’m almost overwhelmed right now with the responsibility of shepherding, not just my own family, but one of several “high-maintenance” families. One of them has run afoul of CPS and we have temporary custody of their new baby. I look across our church and see scores of walking wounded. Bipolar disorder, adult ADHD, depression and anxiety, crippling OCD, joblessness, chronic poverty, bleeding ulcers…
What does God want to do with these precious people?
What is my role?
Where is the power to bring healing and restoration?
Where are the workers?
Your Kingdom come, Lord, your will be done, on earth as it is heaven!