Every Fall I am inevitably asked about whether Preacher and I celebrate Halloween. My usual response is “We celebrate the Harvest.” Today as I was reading God’s word I was reminded of the most important harvest.
Matthew 9 says “When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like a 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.” Matthew 9:36-38
The crowds are everywhere—the mall, at the ball game, at the park and even at church. They are people I don’t know— faces without names.
Jesus had compassion on the crowds then, and He has compassion on the crowds He sees today. The Greek word for “compassion” in this passage means “to be sick at your stomach“. Jesus was so moved by the helplessness of the crowds that He wanted to throw up.
Honestly, most days I have no compassion for the crowds. I avoid the crowds. My tendency is to just move through the crowd as quickly as possible to accomplish whatever task is before me.
Jesus described the crowds as harassed and helpless, like a sheep without a shepherd. I see the crowds as a nuisance. Jesus saw them as individuals needing guidance and care.
Jesus told His followers clearly there was no shortage of people needing to be loved, cared for and transformed. There was only a shortage of workers to go and share of His love, care, and hope.
Jesus challenged His followers to “ask” Him for more workers to go to the crowds.
I ask Jesus for a lot of things. This morning I asked Him to protect people I love, to heal hearts of those I love, to give Preacher wisdom, to save those I love. All of these were good things for me to ask for.
However, I did not ask Him to bring workers into His field. My lack of asking Jesus for more workers probably has more to do with the fact I really do not want to be a part of the answer.
Pain, hurt and fear can cause us to withdraw from others. Why open yourself to reaching out when experience says “You will just be wounded again.”
Yet, Jesus knew as He challenged His followers to love and care for the crowds, that even His own disciples would desert him and betray Him.
The Harvest is ready! Lord, forgive me for being so self absorbed and fearful that I have not gone into your fields of harvest. Crowds are waiting to hear the message of Hope and Love that only our Savior can bring. As our nation mourns the loss of many due to mass shootings, hurricanes and earthquakes may we be filled with compassion and hold out the word of life to the crowds.
Will you open your eyes this approaching Holiday season to see the crowds?