My Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In today’s Gospel Matthew is showing us who this Jesus is and what he has come to do. Matthew 9:35-38 sets the table for what we are going to read in chapter 10. What we are going to see is a beautiful, hopeful picture that can be found in Jesus’ mission. Not only this, but this picture of Jesus is going to show us who we are to be and what our mission must be. Let’s look at the end of Matthew 9 and see this picture of Jesus and what this will look like for our lives.
Be Compassionate (9:35-38)
Verse 35 summarizes what we have seen in the life of Jesus in this gospel. Jesus is going from town to town, preaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and affliction. Now consider verse 36. “When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them.” When Jesus saw the crowds, he was not filled with disgust. When Jesus saw the crowds, his stomach did not turn and his skin did not crawl. When Jesus saw the crowds, he did not do everything he could to avoid them because they were so sinful and so rebellious. Jesus saw the crowds and were filled with compassion.
Notice the perspective of Jesus in verse 37. Jesus told his disciples that the harvest is plentiful. He did not look at the people and say that the harvest is scarce because these people are so sinful. Seeing sinful people means that harvest is plentiful. There is a great work that needs to be done.
So what is the problem? The problem is that the laborers are few (9:37). There is a lot of work but few people who want to do the work. So what should we do? Jesus says first we need to pray for laborers to go into the harvest. Jesus does not say that we need to pray to send laborers into the fields. Jesus says that the problem is not the harvest, but the lack of workers. The problem is that there is a deep lack of care and compassion for people. We are far too content with our own daily lives and far too content with the size and consistency of the church so that we do not care about telling others the good news. The harvest is plentiful. But there are not enough workers who care or who have compassion.
Be the Answer (10:1-4)
But notice what Jesus does next. After praying for the Lord to send workers into the field, Jesus in chapter 10 selects his twelve disciples and gives them authority to do the work. In other words, do not simply pray for workers to go into the field. Be the answer and go into the field. Jesus does not say that we should just hope and pray for someone to do something. He sends us to go into the field, compassionately teaching the good news so that people will come into the harvest.