Read: Matthew 9
Thank you for being a faithful Jumpstart reader! So many of you made a commitment to read through the New Testament with us and you’ve been doing it! I’m so proud of you!
A few of you comment – thank you for doing that too. When you write a comment, others read it and are encouraged. This builds community and strengthens our effort of reading Jumpstart together. Maybe you’ve never commented… would you consider doing it to encourage others?
Matthew chapter 9 is full of great stories! So much to think about as we read it. I especially love the stories of faith in verses 18-26. The faith of a synagogue leader – the faith of the woman who touched Jesus. What’s your favorite story of faith? (Now’s a GOOD OPPORTUNITY for you to comment below!)
Today I want to focus our attention on verses 35-38…
35 Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
Jesus is continuing His evangelism campaign, traveling throughout the area preaching the Good News (that’s what Gospel means – Good News). Crowds were gathering. Jesus healed people not only because of His love for them, but to show that He was the Son of God. People were trusting in Jesus right and left – but there was a big problem. Now that people believed in Jesus and decided to follow Him, there was no one to teach them how.
This concerned Jesus… He said they were confused and helpless. He compared them to sheep without a shepherd. So, Jesus asks His disciples to pray for God to provide more workers in His fields to care for those people. Jesus said that the harvest is great – many people need Jesus and need to grow and follow Him, but the number of workers to do that task is small.
I witnessed this firsthand on one of my trips to Mexico early in my ministry. We traveled to an unmapped village that had never heard the Gospel. The day we arrived we set everything up and waited for evening when all the farmers would return from the fields and people would be available to hear. We set up a projector and screen and played a film that clearly shared the Gospel in their language. Many people trusted Christ – nearly that whole village. We stayed up late walking people through the plan of salvation and went to sleep tired but full of joy. The next morning as we were preparing to leave for the next village, the mayor of that city approached the missionary and me. He asked, “Please send us someone who will teach us what the Bible says so that my people can learn to follow Jesus more”. The missionary sadly replied, “I’m sorry, but we don’t have anyone to send”. I remember clearly the feeling I had when I understood what had just happened. That’s how Jesus felt in our story.
Let me ask you a question today. Are you doing your part? Do you faithfully serve Jesus every week in some capacity? Do you know the statistic? In the average church 20% of the attenders serve while 80% enjoy the benefits of their service. Things like their kids cared for in the nursery, their children taught the Bible, their teenagers challenged by faithful youth workers, they participate in a worship service that they do nothing to advance, someone else welcomes their family and friends when they attend. Is that you? If you are in that 80%, stop right now and confess that as sin to the Lord and make a commitment to change this.
People give a million reasons why they “can’t” serve – but none will matter when they stand before Jesus. God has done so much for us – the harvest field is ready for us to share the Gospel and disciple others – whatever your skill, you can serve. Will you?
Take a moment today and make plans to obey God in this area. If you already are serving, pray for “the Lord of the harvest to send workers into His field”.
By: Tim Parsons
Here’s a comment to keep company, Tim. Ha. I do appreciate you and the staff doing this day in and day out.
I have a question about this. No doubt the passage applies to your mission trip to Mexico. It is heartbreaking that there was no one to disciple the people.
However, do you think the passage applies equally to volunteers at church as it does to, say, bringing the gospel to a more unreached groups? When I read it, I’ve always thought of places outside church (for example a nursing home, a prison, or international student housing), where the gospel is not necessarily proclaimed.
That's a good question SD, I've often read it and had the same initial thought, however, I wonder if to some degree that's me placing a greater value on spreading the seed than harvesting. How do we raise up those who will go (and stay) to minister to/lead unreached groups if we cannot or are not willing to serve in our home church so that the talents and ability of those who can/are willing to go can go? Isn't the church body to care for each other within so that more people are prepared to go? Something that stood out to me as I study this passage is that Jesus was acknowledging that these people had already heard and were following Him and needed a shepherd. Like a church needs workers. The members are many, the workers are few. This seems to speak to something different than the parable of the sower, which I believe speaks more clearly to unreached groups, while this speaks more to groups already reached. In following with the parable topic of planting and harvesting, the workers do both jobs (scattering seed/harvesting), but it seems that Jesus is specifying a different role in this process with these verses.
Love Jumpstart and study provoking comments! Thank you all!
Thank you! Both are important. I have a heart for the world for sure, but this week my heart is broken for elementary kids in Vacation Bible School at CPC. Both matter!
Great point, Jackie! It’s easy to look at a God-problem from a human perspective and miss the whole picture.
Thanks! It certainly applies to evangelism and discipleship. That’s the number one thing we’re called to do by Jesus. Reaching unreached people is the heart of Jesus and must be our hearts too. Thank you for reminding us of this! I love that about you. I’m grateful for you.
My favorite Faith story is when the woman touched the edge of Jesus’ cloak and was healed.
I love that too! It’s an overlooked story that is powerful!
My favorite miracle is when the father is asking for his child to be healed, but also points out his unbelief. It is so relatable for me! It is always an encouragement!
I have looked forward to reading Jumpstart everyday in 2021. Thank you fir taking the time to write it so we can understand the scripture better!
Thank you Reva! That story moves me. I remember being in Capernaum and thinking about it. Powerful!
I feel sometimes, no, often that I am distracted. The busier my life gets and the more responsibilities I have, which are blessings from God, I NEED, to have committed blocks of time like Jumpstart, and I need to get involved and serve because it helps keep me grounded. It recharges and uplifts me-the opposite of what you might think. It does not lessen my energy, but increases my energy. God also knows He made me a people-person and getting to connect to others helps also. I am looking forward to Connect Groups starting again. Thank y’all
Wow! Wow! Wow! That’s so encouraging Christy! We need a video of you saying that. Thanks!
"The workers are few but the harvest is great"
It is almost like Jesus is setting the stage for the birth of the Church. If we took the view that the local church is not JUST an outreach center for the lost but a training ground for the believer, we would probably be better at multiplying the number of "shepherds" available to send out. I love that our leadership does this. They are always trying to recruit new volunteers to start a journey of service where they can discover there talents and gifts, grow in those areas and then be sent out to disciple others to do the same.
YES! Amazing that we're called to be those who are sent! Thanks Paul!