Matthew 9: Seeing the Harvest through Compassionate Eyes

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Today's Bible Reading: Matthew 9

Selected Biblical Text
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." (Matthew 9:35-38 NIV)

Reflecting and Thinking
That Jesus came teaching, preaching and healing is mentioned again in today's text (compare 4:23). Jesus' actions reveal the essence of kingdom commitment. Here is the very nature of the kingdom -- the good news of the kingdom is proclaimed, minds and attitudes are changed, people are made whole. Jesus speaks to his disciples about the plentiful harvest and the limited number of workers. He urges prayer for the workers and for the harvest. He sees the harvest because he looks at the people with compassion. He sees them as harassed and helpless, hopeless, hapless and homeless. He sees them as sheep without a shepherd -- with no one to care, to comfort, to nourish and guide. He sees them as having lost direction. When we ask how God wants us to see the world and what he wants us to do about the hurts of the world, this text shouts a powerful answer. Pray for workers who will reap the harvest!

It seems that many in our world today have given up on the kingdom harvest of souls. Some believe that few are interested in spiritual things. We will do well to ask ourselves: How often am I following Jesus' instructions to pray for the harvest and for more workers? Could it be that we do not see the harvest because we do not look at the world through spiritually compassionate eyes? Consider the difference between seeing the physical needs of people and seeing the spiritual needs of people. How often does the modern church do ministry or mission work focused almost exclusively on benevolence and physical needs? Does the harvest fail because there is nothing to harvest, or because of the lack of workers? Remember that Jesus says the harvest is plentiful.

Dear Heavenly Father, help us see the harvest through compassionate eyes. Help us see those you see, help us love those you love, help us serve those Jesus died for. Bring to our hearts the love of Jesus for others, and help us live out that compassionate love, even as he loved us. We pray today for the harvest and for more workers. As always, we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Last updated January 2019