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. 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. Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”
Matthew 9:36-Matthew 10:2
I think sharing this passage of Scripture with you and all that I have been learning from it, is as much for me as it is for you. For me, it’s about recognizing all that God’s been doing and all that God is calling us to next. It’s about not walking forward in fear, but claiming a crop that’s already been won. But as I have been praying over these verses, I feel like someone else might need to be refreshed with these same words. Maybe today, that’s you.
Growing up, these verses were pretty familiar. I think they were even included in a few songs heard on the radio or sung in church. And the result was that, when I God first brought me back to these verses in Matthew, I had that “Oh yeah, I know this.” type of first response. But then I read them again and in many ways, they hit me like a ton of bricks.
When I read this passage, I picture the face of Jesus as he looked over the crowds filled with broken sinners, who were being harassed and had found themselves helpless. If it had been you or I, maybe we would have responded with “This looks like a lost cause.” Or maybe something like “Well, they can’t all be my problem, I mean, we all have our own set of issues.” Or maybe we would have touted a need for more tolerance.
But that wouldn’t be how Jesus responded. He didn’t see a bleak situation when he saw the crowds. He didn’t see a situation too far gone or a need too great. Instead, what he saw was simply an absence of laborers. Where were the laborers willing to do the hard work of ministering to the broken? Where were the sheepherders who would protect and guide the lost flock? Where were the encouragers to help and show these people another way?
Jesus responds immediately with compassion and secondly with prayer. He tells the disciples “Ask the Lord of the harvest, to send out workers into His harvest field.” I always stopped the story here. In my mind, the next chapter started something new. I didn’t stop and make the connection between verses 9:36 and 10:1. In the very next verse, the disciples answer the call. I bet when they were praying for laborers, they didn’t necessarily have themselves in mind. I know that, because I think most of us feel the same way.
In today’s world, with mega churches packed to the brim and access to Scriptures on every electronic device, it’s hard to imagine an absent work force. But still today we have more “loiterers than laborers.” Since the beginning, Jesus could have collected the harvest Himself. It is in fact, His harvest. But He never intended the reaping to be a one man job. He allows us to be a part of collecting His harvest. He graciously includes us in the blessing of a full harvest. Sadly though, the reverse is also true; if we do not accept His invitation to help with the collecting, some of the harvest will be lost. That’s right. Lives lost.
I’ve thought a lot about this as I feel like God is moving us to bigger things than I ever could have imagined with The Orphan Door. But God continues to remind me that he is allowing me to be a part of some of His most Holy work as He allows me to demonstrate to a child the very same worth He established for me.
There seems to be really only one way to end this and that’s to say I am praying for you. As we walk forward in faith and pursue the next tasks we feel like God is assigning us, we believe He is also raising up laborers to walk alongside us. We wholeheartedly believe He is calling many to this particular harvest field. If that’s you, will you take a next step? Maybe that means you start to pray for what your role will be, maybe that means you connect with us on some of the work we are doing, or pray alongside us for what the future holds. But whatever that next step is, I encourage you to take it. Join the labor force. We need you!
Download this month’s printable here!