Matthew spoke of the Lord’s work as He journeyed, taking the gospel from village to village. It is recorded that
…when He saw the multitudes, He was moved
with compassion for them, because they were
weary and scattered, like sheep having no
shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
Jesus saw the spiritual decline of His people and their need for revival. In this verse, the apostle shares an image which characterized his people as a flock of sheep who are lost. They needed a shepherd—Jesus is that shepherd. Recall in John 10 Jesus revealed Himself as the Good Shepherd.
What a contrast between the Saviour and those who need saving. He, full of compassion, came to the lost and gave the direction. They, like sheep who have wandered from the fold, are lost in the mountains of sin. What a blessing to have such a wonderful Saviour!
A Plentiful Harvest
In Matthew 9:37, Jesus stated,
The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
There is a harvest all around us, if we would just lift up our eyes and look. When Jesus headed north to Galilee in John 4, He stopped in Sychar, a city of Samaria. You may recall He spoke with a woman of the city, and turned that conversation into an opportunity to speak to the whole city. Hear what He said to His disciples when they returned from town:
Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then
comes the harvest?’ Behold, I say to you, lift up your
eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white
for harvest! (John 4:35)
As I picture these scene in my mind’s eye, I see the people of Sychar walking through the fields to go hear Jesus speak. It was yet four months before the crop of those fields would be harvested, but a more important harvest was about to take place. The people of that city believed upon Jesus. A field of lost souls met the Saviour and heard the gospel!
Consider the events that are recorded in Acts 2. Peter and the rest of the apostles stood before a crowd of lost souls in Jerusalem preaching the gospel of the kingdom. Over 3,000 people were added to the church that day. Truly, the harvest is plentiful.
Labourers Are Few
There are souls needing to hear the gospel in every city. Neither Jesus nor Peter, nor any of the other apostles are here in our town today. And yet the potential for a great harvest like that of John 4 or Acts 2 surrounds us.
But as Jesus said, “…the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37). So, what is the solution? Hear the word of the Lord:
Therefore pray the Lord of harvest to send out laborers
into His harvest. (Matthew 9:38)
That does not mean that we simply sit at home and pray that someday the Lord will send people who know the gospel to the lost who are around us. We need to see the need, petition God about it, and then take an active role in tending to the need. If you are a Christian then you are one of the labourers who need to go out into the harvest. In John 4, the Lord brought the apostles into the work that He was doing (John 4:36-38). Not long after the church was establishes in Jerusalem in Acts 2, we are told that they were scattered due to persecution. And yet the gospel continued to be spread. How? The apostles still taught the word, but they were not alone in this endeavour. When the believers were scattered, they began to share the gospel wherever they went (Acts 8:1, 4).
Will you be a labourer in the Lord’s field, helping in the harvest of souls in preparation for an eternal reward in heaven?