Last Easter Sunday, I gave a small lesson on the person and sacrifice of Jesus Christ to my family on top of a mountain. I shared that message online, in our ministry’s blog. The purpose of that message was to remind audience (my family and our online community) the importance of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, his persecution, his death, and his resurrection. These topics get preached on every Easter Sunday by churches across the world. However, this Easter Sunday, I would like to share the foundation of Jesus’ ministry. This foundation is and will always be the compassion and love that Jesus Christ had for all humanity. So this message will focus on Matthew 9:35-38. I will be dividing this Scripture into two parts to allow the audience to understand the depth of Jesus’ message.
Matthew 9:35-36
“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. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
As Jesus was going through all the towns and villages of Israel, he was teaching and preaching about the kingdom of heaven. Not only did the Scripture identify Jesus as teaching the people, but healing them. Jesus must have been exhausted, but He did not stop healing those in need. Even though more and more crowds of people surrounded Him, he had “compassion” towards them. The Greek word “esplanchnisthe” is the Greek word translated in this Scripture for “compassion.” Its definition is a strong inward emotion of sympathy. After everything that Jesus already did, he still felt a deep sense of “compassion” for everyone.
Jesus was overwhelmed with compassionate pity over the people. His response echoes the deeper inner working of God, which is described in the Old Testament. Ezekiel 34:5-6 also compared Israel to sheep without shepherds. Like sheep bothered by wolves, lying down and unable to help them, having no shepherd to guide and protect them, the people were misaligned with crooked religious leaders. The people were lost, wandering around without a spiritual leader. Jesus knew what His role of being the “good shepherd” was. He came to show people how to avoid life’s pitfalls.
Matthew 9:37-38
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
When Jesus looked at the crowds of people following Him, he referred to them as being a ripe harvest. Many of the people were willing to give their lives to Jesus if there would be someone to show them how. Jesus commands us to pray in response to the harvest. We are to pray over the harvest with the same compassion and love as Jesus did. In Jewish times, the teachers knew that teachers could only successfully teach and lead so many students. This is why Jesus knew that his followers would have to pray for God to provide more workers to accomplish his job of helping humanity find salvation and truth.
Applications
The application for this piece of Scripture is simple because of Jesus’ instruction. Jesus devoted himself to reaching people everywhere (9:35). It is not practical for every Christian in this world to be missionaries; however, each Christian is called to be loving and compassionate towards their fellow man. We are called to share the light of Christ in everything we do. We are called to deeply care for people, whether they are saved or not. Matthew 25:31-46 teaches us the value of all people is important, regardless of their ethnicity, culture, or religion. The modern day “least of these” are the homeless, the disabled, the uneducated, the sick, and the unsaved. Many of those people will not grace the door of a church, but they will read the Bible of your life through your actions. Our actions will always speak louder than our words. So the first step of this application is allowing yourself to be available for those in need of help, whether they know they need help or not.
The next step in this application has to do with the intentions behind our actions. Jesus showed His followers that the motivation of His ministry was compassion and love (9:36). If God’s Spirit is truly within us, this should be the same motivation for us. Providing spiritual care for people is not only about ministering to them, but meeting their practical needs. These needs are food, water, shelter, and clothing. We are called to listen to people and do our best to meet their needs with righteous intentions. This is not something simple to do, but on this Easter Sunday, I pray that we all remember the sacrifice that Jesus did for ALL humanity. Being a Christian does not mean that life is going to be easy. We learn about the sacrifices of Jesus and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit after our conversion, but it is not supposed to end there. Our conversion is the beginning of our walk with Christ. We must act after knowing the Word of God. We are called to be doers of the Word of God, not just listeners (James 1:22). It is when we cannot continue to move forward to help our community that the enemy wins and we become stagnant.
When reading this Scripture, I get emotional and feel an overwhelming sense of love and compassion from someone who thought that I was worth dying for. I pray that this motivation that fueled Jesus’ ministry and sacrifice does not die because of our lack of actions. It is not about waiting and letting someone else to do God’s will, but it is up to each one of us to move and do something. As the stone moved and Jesus was not there, we should not be found in our couches or seats, but out sharing His love and sacrifice into the world. This is my family’s mission. I pray for more families to stand up and move out towards their community out of love, because the harvest is ripe. The sooner we can come to realize that we are the laborers that people have been praying for, the better our communities can be. So please take this short lesson to heart, and remember who we represent and what we are all called to do. God bless you all.