Verse 35 of Matthew chapter 9 summarizes the cycle of Jesus’ ministry of teaching, preaching and healing, recalling a similar summary statement in Matthew 4:23–25. The compassion of Jesus is a repeated theme in the Gospels. Not only does He show compassion but He also admonishes His followers to extend the same mercies, especially to those in need. Jesus’ ministry sprang up from a deep sense of compassion and sorrow in His heart when He saw the helpless state of those around Him and their inability to help themselves (v36).
Jesus then exposes the critical urgency of the call to mission by alluding to two images: sheep without a shepherd and a ripe harvest with few ready hands. Compassion must precipitate action. When Jesus saw a need, He always met it, because it moved His heart to do so. Notice also that Jesus’ focus is not simply on the privation before Him, but on the amazing potential for harvest. The possibility of conversion and miraculous work of salvation is something that must be anticipated with expectancy – it all lies with God and is reaped through earnest prayer.
It has been said that outside the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus doesn’t often tell His followers what to pray for specifically. Yet in this instance He is very clear. Not only does He command His followers to pray for labourers to be sent out, but He makes them very aware of their responsibility to do so.
Keep on keeping on…
Passion DVD © 2010