Impact Others in our World
Pastor Mike Stewart talks about growing up in rural Oklahoma during the wheat harvest:
“The fields would be filled with golden stalks moving together like ocean waves in the breeze. When the wheat is ready, there is a ten to fourteen day window of time when it must be harvested. It can be a round the clock effort; the men operating the combines, the women and teens driving grain trucks to the elevators to deposit the wheat and returning to the fields for another load. Meals are eaten on the fly because the time is urgent. And everyone keeps one eye on the sky. A sudden thunderstorm could make the fields muddy and bog down the combines. The grain would then have to dry for several days while still on the stalk before it could be deposited at the elevator. After the harvest is completed, there is a great feeling of satisfaction and relief. Each farm family has partnered with God in producing another year’s bountiful harvest.”
Several times in scripture, Jesus talks about fields ready for harvest. In John 4:35 he says, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” But he is referring not to grain but people who must be reached for Christ. See what he says in our passage for today, Matthew 9:35–38.
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 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.”
What truth does Jesus proclaim here that we need to hear?
In verse 35, Matthew summarizes Jesus’ activity during his earthly ministry. He was teaching, proclaiming the good news that the kingdom of God had arrived and was healing the sick. The spectacular nature of Jesus’ ministry attracted large crowds. As Jesus observed the crowds, he had compassion on them. The verb “to have compassion” (splanchnizomai) is used by the Gospel writers 12 times. Suggesting strong emotion, it means “to feel deep sympathy.” Jesus loved the people and was moved by their great need.
Jesus uses two agricultural illustrations to portray both the people’s condition and the appropriate action to take. The people were harassed and helpless, like sheep, without a shepherd. Like sheep bothered by wolves, with no real shepherd to guide and protect them, the people were lost. They were helpless before the religious leaders, wandering about without spiritual guidance. The religious leaders, who should have been their shepherds, had failed them miserably. In response to the people’s “helpless” condition, Jesus encouraged his disciples to ask the Lord of the harvest, God the Father, to send out additional workers. The harvest was ready, for the kingdom was at hand (Matthew 4:17). But workers were needed to do the job!
The need for workers to point people to the Good Shepherd hasn’t changed. We need to be out in whatever field the Lord guides us to, whether it be here in North Texas, or somewhere across the globe. If we aren’t called to “go,” we can help “send.” We can support our global workers who are reaping in fields beyond our physical reach.
Just as Jesus did, we are to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. As Christians, we know and believe that something monumental happened a little over 2000 years ago when Jesus Christ entered history. His birth, life, death and resurrection matter to every single person. It is extraordinarily good news for everyone! It is summed up by Paul in 1 Corinthians:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:3–6)
According to the Bible, something has happened, is happening, and will happen that changes everything. And while some of the impact is immediate, the repercussions of the gospel are massive, far-reaching, and eternal. The gospel is not a set of principles, a subjective way to see the world, or a collection of good advice. It rests on a historical event that has colossal implications: individually, relationally, and cosmically. As Christians we have the opportunity to not only proclaim this news, but to also help people understand what it means for them.
Many of us get intimidated by the idea of sharing our faith. If that describes you, think about it this way: you are really just telling a story. This is a story that began with creation, climaxed with the death and resurrection of Jesus and will end with his return and the renewal of all things. But this is no fairy tale that you’re telling because this is a story that has impacted you personally. Your story is part of the big story! And the person you’re talking to? It can become their story too.
You can also help another person see how the gospel will make a major difference in their life by explaining how it has made a difference in yours. We’re not trying to be pushy or judgmental. We’re just telling our stories.
People all over the world are ready to hear and receive the gospel. You can participate in the harvest by having meaningful conversations with people around you. Get to know your neighbors and co-workers. Talk with them about things that matter. Allow the same compassion that Jesus exhibited guide your relationship with them and pray for opportunities to tell them what God has done for you.
And to reach the world? When we’re once again able, consider going on a short term mission trip to another part of the world so you can learn firsthand what life is like for people in contexts different from your own. Support global workers now with your prayers and finances. Visit Christ Fellowship’s global worker page online to find out how you can help. (https://cfhome.org/global-workers/ )
- How can you help with the ripe harvest of people who are ready to hear the gospel and respond to Jesus? How can you share your story with people where you live and support the efforts of those harvesting far away?
Praise God for the gospel! It is life changing. Take a moment to think about some of the ways God has changed your life since you started following Jesus. Develop a short “testimony” that you could share with someone else. Also spend some time praying for Christ Fellowship’s global workers.