Matthew 9: 35-38, The Compassion of Jesus!
General Idea: This passage is a summary of Jesus' teaching, ministry, and example, from chapters five through nine. Here is the model of faith and practice we are to follow from the quintessential Model Himself, our Lord. This passage is the end of the funnel of all that Jesus poured onto His disciples. In the following passage of Matthew ten, it is their turn to take that pouring and make it work in their lives for service. He did what He calls us to do. We do not have a Lord who sits aloof in Heaven, with no idea or comprehension of what it means to be a human, and to serve, firsthand. Our Lord served and taught, just as He calls us to serve and teach. He calls us to reach out to the hopeless and homeless, the rich and the poor, those who know their need and those who do not; we are simply called to go and proclaim His name, just as He did.
The biggest barrier to what God has called us to be is not how people will respond to us; rather, it is finding those who will go! Jesus was confronting this biggest barrier to evangelism and discipleship both then and today-- that of motivation. How people respond to His message is not our concern. We are to proclaim it in truth, in earnest, and in love. We cannot be responsible for anyone other than ourselves--how we will respond, how we are to be laborers to harvest His field. Our being idle, and not responding to our Lord, is a very sad thing! It shows that we have no compassion, no trust, no love, and no care to the One who has given so much of these things to us, without merit, when we refuse to model it to others.
1.Jesus went: Jesus was not limited to the twelve Disciples; they were the ones He called out from the crowd. He wanted them to learn more so they could serve more. Jesus modeled for them, for us, and for all generations before, and to come, what ministry really is. It is not sitting in an office chair, closed off to the community and people; rather, it is directly engaging one on one, and one on many. It is going into the trenches to serve where we might not desire to go, where we may not be comfortable, or even equipped to go! Why? Because He did it for you and me!
a.The works of Jesus are to be our works. In ministry, we are to minister. In redemption, we are to show others Christ's redemption. He is our foundation, and represents all that we are, and do.
b.Scripture tells us that God Himself is our Shepherd, and the One to lead us (Num. 27:17; 1 Kings 22: 17; 2 Chron. 18:16; Ezek. 34:4)!
c.Jesus tells us, as did Ezekiel, that Israel is failing at this crucial call.
i. The responsibility of the leader is to feed the sheep (Ezek 34:2-6; John 21:15-19).
ii. In the Ezekiel passage, we see the imagery of shepherding, and how it applies to reaching others, as well as the responsibility we have in Christ.
iii. Here, you will also find the template for Jesus' ministry of feeding the sheep by healing, and bringing back the lost ones. It warns us not to just only take care of ourselves!
2.Moved with compassion: Jesus is often motivated by compassion (Matt. 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:30-34; Mark 1:40-41; 5:1-20; Luke 7:11-15). The question we have to ask ourselves is, are we?
a.Lack of compassion for the lost is why many Christians do not energetically or aggressively seek to teach, disciple, or evangelize others.
b.We can see in Jesus the ultimate Shepherd, as He is moved for us when we become lost, weary, confused, hurt, scattered, and even suffering from disease, demon possession, and hunger, just as a good and faithful shepherd would be. And, like a herdsman caring for his sheep, it is not done just for monetary reward, but because He cares!
c.If you feel you lack compassion or are indifferent, then allow God to teach you how to love (1 Thess. 4:9; 1 John 3:16-17). The opposite of love is not lust, or hate--it is indifference. When we are indifferent, we fail to express love in any of its forms (1 Cor. 13).
i. Allow God's Word to teach you how to teach--not necessarily in a classroom, but as a lifestyle (Heb. 5:11-14; 1 Pet. 3:15).
ii. If you cannot teach, you can still pray, and support those who do the teaching (Phil. 4:15-16; Thess. 3:1; 3 John 5-82)!
3.Harvest, is the idea of being God's witness and representative, as promised to Abraham, and also applied to us (Gen. 12:1-3).
a.This saying, that the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few, is found in Jewish commentaries and writings from the late first century. It refers to training people in the Law and in the urgency to do so, yet few rabbis were willing to do it. This is ironic, since this was their primary call and purpose! Perhaps Jesus was drawing on a colloquial proverb of His time, and applying it to His call. Or, perhaps the Jews saw the sayings of Jesus, and started to incorporate them in their writings. Given Jesus' teaching style of challenging the contemporary theories and thoughts, both probably are the case.
b.How are the fields ripe where you are? Do you see the urgency, the passion, and the reason to go and make our Lord known? He may not be calling you to go to Outer Mongolia, but what about your co-workers, your family and friends, even those in your church?
i. Do you realize that a church can be a lonely, desolate place, where few find hope or friends? Do not let this happen in your church!
ii. Complacency and indifference are big problems in the Church, and counteract Christ's call to us!
c.This Harvest can also be seen as the image of the End Times, the Day of Judgment, when we will be called to account for what Christ has done for us and how we responded. There is frequent imagery of this throughout Scripture (Ezra 4:30-32; Isa. 17: 13; 66:24; Jer. 13:14; 15:7; 51:33; Joel 3:12-14).
d.The laborers are few: God calls us to reach the lost! Previous verses tell us that Peter opened his home, Matthew invited his friends, and the healed, blind man spread the news.
e.Luke 10:1-16 shows us some reasons why people fail at this needed call. Mainly, it is difficult and dangerous, and most just will not respond, no matter how much they were given first. If you feel rejected, it is not you that is being rejected; it is God who is (Luke 10:16)!
f.Jesus' prime mission was to seek disciples to make His work known. Our primary mission is to do the same-to make disciples (Matt. 8:18-22, 28:18-20).
If you find yourself being indifferent, with no compassion for the lost, and hurting in your church or in your life, then you have a big problem! This is a problem that most Christians have, a problem that can be remedied by prayer, and earnest surrender to His Lordship. If you or your church are the ones who think, "Hey, I am too busy for this," "I have other important things to say and do," "I cannot be interrupted from my comfort and complacency," consider how Jesus interrupted Himself for you (Heb. 7:25)! Can we really say we have compassion for the lost if we have made no effort to teach others the gospel (Jer. 20:9)? We have to be willing to work accordingly to God's direction, and no other. May the Word and deeds of our Lord inspire and motive you and your church! Remember, all we do is in the hands of God; we are called to follow Him, obey, and pray. These are difficult tasks, but take comfort. He owns the harvest and we will receive His empowerment and backing for the task (John 14:12). Remember, prayer does not merely equip us for a greater work. It is the greater work!
1.How is being a Christian like being a farmer?
2.Since our Lord is the quintessential Model of faith and practice, what does this mean to you? What are you modeling to those around you?
3.Do you gain confidence and trust for empowerment to serve, knowing that our Lord does not merely sit aloof in Heaven, with no idea or comprehension of what it means to be a human?
4.This passage tells us that the biggest barrier to what God has called us to be is not how the people will respond to us; rather, it is finding those who will go! What are your thoughts on this?
5.Do you believe that being idle, and not responding to our Lord shows we may not have any compassion, trust, love, or care? How does the fact, that Jesus is the One who has given us so much, without merit, motivate you?
6.Jesus modeled for us what ministry really is. So, what is it? How does your church interpret what ministry is?
7.Some churches view ministry as sitting in an office chair closed off to the community, and people going to meetings without applicable results. Why? What would Jesus say to them?
8.Read Ezekiel 34:1-16. What are the parallels to this passage in Jesus' ministry? How is it the responsibility of the leader to feed the sheep?
9.Jesus is often motivated by compassion. The question we have to ask ourselves is, are we? So, are you?
10. Are you moved when you see a person in distress? What about when you are in a rush? What makes, or motivates you to serve?
11. Why do you suppose that many Christians seem to lack the motivation to put their faith into action and harvest the fields?
12. If you feel you lack compassion or are indifferent, would you be willing to allow God to teach you how to love? If not, what is in the way?
13. How does complacency counteract Christ's call? How have you seen this in your experience? Do you believe that the inactivity of most churches shows a lack of compassion? How would compassion make a dead church rise and serve?
14. How are the fields ripe where you are? Do you see the urgency, the passion, and reason to go and make our Lord known? He may not be calling you to go to Outer Mongolia, but what about your co-workers, your family and friends, even those in your church?
15. If you ever felt rejected while doing evangelism, remember, it is not you that is being rejected. It is God who is. How can this help motivate you to harvest more?
16. Are complacency and indifference big problems in your church? If so, why and to what extent? What can be done about it?
17. Can we really say we have compassion for the lost if we have made no effort to teach others the gospel? Why, or why not?
18. We have to be willing to work accordingly to God's direction, and no other. What can you and your church do to make sure you stay with God's precepts and plans?
19. The works of Jesus are to be our works. In ministry, we are to minister. In redemption, we are to show Christ's redemption to others. He is our foundation and represents all that we are and do. How can you and your church make this even more so?
20. Do you realize that a church can be a lonely, desolate place, where few find hope or friends? What can the pastoral staff do so this will not happen at your church?
© 2003, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org