35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for 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 laborers are few; 38therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Stay (35) Matthew 9 chronicles Jesus seeking, serving and saving the lost. He attends a dinner party with social outcasts, interrupts a funeral, opens blind eyes on the roadside and forgives sins. And that is the first principle: stay involved in evangelism. Being active among the lost keeps you spiritually sharp and makes you more caring and grateful. And like Jesus including the Twelve, it’s even better when you involve others.
See (36) Crowds thronged the gentle healer as he moved through their villages. But he looked far beyond their number; he perceived their true condition: harassed, helpless and leaderless. The High King of heaven, whom every sin offends, appreciated people’s great anguish more than their great offenses. Go sit in the mall and watch for guys in blue shirts or girls in red scarfs. Each time you spot one, remind yourself that life harasses him and that she is helpless. They have no one to care, lead, protect or feed their soul. As you do, ask your Father to save that person and to give you eyes to see the lost as lost.
Feel (36) Sin drills yawning holes in our spirit. Unbelievers are blind, broken, dead, lonely and empty. All people, including saints, bear weeping wounds, fight internal battles and wrestle with unanswered questions. Jesus knew that “the cares of the age” choke out the good seed of the word. He empathized with and responded to our worries, fears and afflictions. He deeply felt our brokenness. It gripped his bowels and motivated his heart.
As you work out with the guys at the gym, recognize that though they are physically strong and competitive, they wonder within if they truly have what life takes. Your neighbor down the street who always has a beer in his hand? He’s not just drinking. He’s trying to fill the hole in his soul and soothe the pain of its presence. Buy a Coke for a co-worker whom the boss dislikes. Listen for his deflection or defensiveness and watch the anger and hurt in his eyes.
Reconnect with the aches within people. Learn to appreciate the lost as victims of sin rather than sinners with vices. Ask the Father to make you more aware of their inner scars than their outer sins so that you can feel their pain.
Pray (37-38) There is incredible potential for evangelistic harvest. Some fields are ripe now, as Israel was then. Others are in preparation. Either way, there are many people to be harvested. Faced with the enormous potential of harvest, Jesus observed that there were more unbelievers willing to listen to him than there were believers ready to talk about him.
So what to do? Jesus gives one directive: pray for workers. Intently. In God’s economy we are to ask him, the Lord of his harvest, to provide and propel laborers into it.
WWJD? Stay, see, feel and pray.