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Harvest Time

Matt. 9:35-38


When Jesus walked this earth 2,000 years ago, it was in a physical body.  He laid aside His omnipresence and was only at one place at a time.  For this reason He spent His time moving about, going where people were and meeting their needs.


v. 35        This is the Messiah Modeling the Ministry for us.  Never did Jesus sit back and wait for the people to come to Him, He went out where the people were.  Please note:  nowhere does the Bible command lost sinners to come to church…but it does command us saints to go out into the highways and hedges and compel people to come to church!  Do you like it here at FBC?  Are you proud of your church?  Would you like to share it with many others?  Ok then, go ahead!


Most of you did not COME to Jesus on your own, but rather were BROUGHT to Jesus.


We dare not neglect people whether they live in a mansion or a slum, are upper class or lower class, up and coming or down and out…our job is to be the salt of the earth, and we must get the salt out of the shaker and spice up our world and encourage people to come and dine!  The table is spread here, the fellowship is fabulous, and the cuisine is heavenly!



1.     The Compassion of the Savior

v. 36a      “When He saw…”  What did He see?  Not just a bunch of bodies…not just a crowd.  It wasn’t a superficial glance like we make.  He saw souls and hearts.  He looked beyond their faults and saw their needs. 


Ill.—what you notice about somebody reveals what is truly important to you.  Years ago when you walked past a shoe shine man he looked at your shoes, because he saw every person as a potential customer.  The guy in the cell phone display glances at my phone to see if I’m up to date, because he sees people as potential customers.  When I drive onto a car lot the salesman checks out my car…well, that’s because it’s a sweet ride!  J 


Would to God that we were all, first and foremost, in the soulwinning business.  Oh that we would see every person as a potential convert for Christ…oh that we would see in each of them their precious soul which WILL live forever or die forever somewhere for all eternity! 


Relatives—you see one another at times here on earth, but you’ll be separated for all eternity if you don’t see their soul, swallow your pride, and speak up!

Neighbors—you look after their stuff, but you need to look after their soul!

Friends—you talk about everything under the sun except for the main thing God left you here to share with them!

Co-workers—God planted you in a unique place for a specific reason, and no one else on earth has that opportunity w/ that person but you!


Jesus is our model for ministry in the way He saw people, and saw their needs.


Then He was moved w/ compassion for them.  The word compassion is used in the gospels only to describe Jesus…it means “stirred at the deepest level.”  This means he didn’t just see a man w/ leprosy, but He felt His pain and rejection, loneliness and isolation.  He didn’t just see a man whose daughter had died, but felt his sorrow and bereavement.  He saw His broken heart, and even better, His heart broke right along w/ him!  And Jesus didn’t look on an adulterous woman in the judgmental way we often do, but rather in love and compassionate forgiveness, wiping her slate clean!


How about you?  When you see someone living in the filth of sin…does it only disgust you, or does it move you w/ compassion?  When you see an abuser, does it only anger you, or are you also moved w/ compassion?  Has your heart become stone cold, or can it be moved with compassion for others?


Ill.—William Booth started the Salvation Army.  But what led him to do that?  Here’s the story:  One night he couldn’t sleep and went for a walk thru the slums of London.  The rain was beating down that night on the derelicts asleep on the street, and it broke his heart.  He went home and when his wife asked where he had been he replied, “I’ve been to hell.”  He saw the homeless as more than just drunks and losers, and remembered they were once somebody’s baby, and used to be loved, and rather than blame them for their condition and keep walking, he decided that night to do something about it, and give them another chance to make something of themselves.  His organization was started with the idea of giving the homeless a hand up, not just a handout.  Sure, many turn around and return to their old ways, but compassion made way for countless to be saved and their lives changed!


Anyone can be saved, and the worse your life is, the more you have the privilege of being forgiven for!

Ill.-- A converted cannibal on a South Sea Island was sitting by a large pot reading his Bible. A visiting anthropologist saw him and was curious as to what he was doing. He approached the native and said, “What are you doing?” The cannibal replied, “I’m reading the Bible.” Upset, the anthropologist then said, “Don’t you know that modern man has rejected that book?”  The cannibal looked him over and said, “Sir, if it weren’t for this book, you’d be in that pot.”


Many of us live in a cocoon of our own making, and we’ve forgotten what it was like to be in bondage to sin and far from God.  It wouldn’t hurt us a bit to take a walk in the ‘bad’ part of town once in a while, or make some visits to the jail or the hospital or shut ins, or a special needs center near you!  It would do us some good to work in kids ministries or assist on the van route and see some boys and girls from homes of dysfunction, who are looking for someone to really love them…it might as well be you…and you’ll be doing more than helping them…it will change YOUR heart!


Ill.—In Bible college I went on weekend ministry extension to a local apartment complex, the Sunrise Apartments in a poverty stricken area of Pensacola, FL.  A friend and I started the Sunrise Bible Club and went out each Saturday morning.  We didn’t have to knock many doors before word spread, and kids would run out to the courtyard each week to play games with us, have storytime, and many got saved.  During gametime there wasn’t enough of us to go around.  The kids said, “swing me next”, “carry me on your shoulders”…but I’ll never forget the little girl Crystal—she didn’t want to play, but waited in line for attention, and when it was her turn said, “Hold me!”  I picked her up, and was taken back by how firmly she squeezed me, like she didn’t want me to ever put her down.  She was saying, “Love me!” 


It’s time for the church of God to have a return to real compassion, and stop looking at ministry as something somebody else in the church does or something that happens on this platform, and realize that we all need to take personal responsibility and get out where the action is and love people!


That’s the compassion of Jesus…


2.     The Condition of the Sinners

v. 36        The Bible compares people to sheep.

Isa 53:6

All we like sheep have gone astray…

Ps 100:3

…we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Ps 23:1

The LORD is my shepherd…


Let’s take a look at ourselves for a moment, as the sheep that we are.  What can we learn about ourselves from this illustration?


In Mt. 9, it’s a picture of sheep that have been attacked by a wild animal.  They are apart from the flock, alone, and have no shepherd.


Ill.—When God wanted to create fish He spoke to the water.

When He wanted trees, He spoke to the earth.

But when He wanted to make man, He looked to Himself…

“Let us make man in our image…”

Now, if you take a fish out of water, it dies.

If you take a tree out of the ground, it dies.

What happens when you separate man from God?  Death!

Listen here:  Sinners w/out Jesus are like fish out of water, like a tree with no earth.  They are sheep w/out a shepherd.  Without Jesus they have no protection.


In v. 36 Jesus had compassion because they ‘fainted.’  This means they had been skinned, fleeced, and tossed aside.  The very religious leaders of their day that were supposed to be looking out for them were using them and abusing them.  They didn’t love them.  What a picture of our world today!  Pastors and priests using their power over little boys and girls is clearly wrong.  And when we see those in it for the money and greed we are sickened.  But I submit to you that it’s also wrong for churches to view people as numbers instead of names, as workers instead of worshipers, and as people for their own ego and their own kingdom instead of for the kingdom of God!


Political leaders, instead of caring for their constituency, use and abuse them, and if they care at all, many only care about their vote!


People today are led more by Hollywood, the media, and popular opinion than anything else.  Let me remind you that Satan wants to use the TV industry to subtly change you…to get you to laugh at filth and be more tolerant of perversion, to get you to treat your family the way those on that show do, to get you to accept a wicked mindset.


Truly America is being fleeced from all directions!  They need the Good Shepherd!  Without Jesus they have no protection…


Without Jesus they have no direction.


v. 36        “scattered abroad”


Remember that when the Bible calls us sheep, that’s not a compliment.  We think, oh, what cute and cuddly little fluff balls.  But sheep are not swift, sheep are not smart, they are dumb, defenseless, and directionless.  Congratulations, that’s us today!  J


Without a shepherd, sheep will wander aimlessly for days until they die. 


Ill.—ever had a stray dog latch on to you and you decided to take a long drive with him, and your car found its way out to the country? / you felt like you owed it to him, having been tied up so long…somehow he got out of the car and you couldn’t catch him…oh well, maybe he’ll find a better home! / you get back to your house and there he is on the front porch, wagging his tail!  Why?  It’s because he has a built in sense of direction.


Sheep don’t have that sense.  They actually will follow each other.  They will wear ruts in the pasture from following one another back and forth, aimlessly.  “Why am I walking this path?  I’m just following the wooly hiney in front of me!”


Teens are a good example.  One of them tries a cigarette or alcohol and the others have to try it too…they follow right along like dumb sheep!


Clothing designers invent new lows in indecency and immodest apparel, and everyone follows along—“Let’s see…what new area of my body have I not revealed and highlighted yet?…what’s the newest place to allow to hang out…or tattoo…or pierce?  And everyone just follows along like dumb sheep!


I thank God for a home in heaven…that I’ll get someday.  But Jesus has given me more than that…He’s given me something right now:  direction!  A purpose in life, a reason to live.  Fulfillment is something I enjoy now because I know where I came from, I know why I’m here, and where I’m going.  I wouldn’t take a million dollars for that!  So don’t tempt me by offering!  J


Look at this world…people blindly following each other, and they’re all in a hurry, but none of them really knows where they came from, why they are here, or where they are going.  Why hurry if you have no real purpose?


Ill.—somebody flies past you on the road / you think it must be an emergency…he must have a pregnant lady in labor in the back or something / then you pull into your destination, which was McD’s, and there’s that same guy, chomping down on a Big Mac!  Oh good, disaster averted by emergency panic driving skills!


Ill.—pilot radioed to passengers over the Pacific / “I’ve got good news and bad news…” / “the bad news is we are lost, and I don’t know where we’re at…the good news is, we’re making great time!”


Everybody’s in a hurry but nobody knows where they are going!  And the longer you live and the older you get w/out a shepherd, the more futile and meaningless life will become.  The devil has no happy old people…mark it down!  But make Jesus your shepherd and He’ll give you not only protection, but direction for life!


We’ve seen the compassion of the Savior, and the condition of the sheep…


3.     The Commission of the Saints

v. 37-38   Jesus changes the illustration and uses a different figure of speech to make His powerful point.  Now He moves from the flock to the field…don’t miss this: 


The flock pictures the fact that we need God.

The field pictures the fact that God needs us.


I don’t know exactly why God has chosen to spread the gospel using us, but He has.  And here’s the problem.  It’s harvest time…the crops are ready…there’s a world of opportunity.  But there’s a shortage of laborers to bring it all into the barn!


v. 37 is my life’s verse because thru it I answered the call to ministry.  It speaks to me because it says there’s much to be done and few to do it.  It’s the greatest opportunity in life…and you don’t have to be a full time Pastor to take part!


There’s a great harvest of people out there, looking for something…looking for someone who is real to bring it to them!


The problem is not the lack of great prospects, but the lack of laborers going out and bringing them in.


Song:  “My House is Full”


We all enjoy coming into God’s house…I enjoy the house of God as much as anybody…food, fellowship, learning, praising and worshiping.  It’s nice being ‘in the house.’  But the song says “Push away from the table, look out thru the windowpane, just beyond this house of plenty lies a field of golden grain…”  [go light dark places / get salt out of shaker]


It’s nice to hear inspirational preaching and I’m glad you like it, but I don’t feed you just so you can get spiritually full and fat…it’s so we can all go out into the field and labor in the energy of the Spirit.  Spiritual calories and Biblical carbs are something we are supposed to take in and then burn up in service!


v. 38        An important lesson I hope I’ve finally learned:  God’s method for recruiting workers is prayer.  Don’t be guilty as I have been at times, at just doing the legwork of asking anybody and everybody if they will help, until you find someone who can’t say no or out of guilt says, I guess if no one else will, I’d better do it. 


I’ve been praying specifically for people in key areas, and God has been bringing them in to the church, and laying on their hearts to help, and with their gifts and ambition and the Lord’s calling behind them, they will do a much better job than anybody I could recruit on my own…pray for laborers!  And don’t be surprised if, while you are praying, God lays it on your heart to be the answer to that prayer!


The end of ch. 9 the Lord says to pray for laborers…then in ch. 10 the Lord calls the very ones who were praying about it, and He sent them out.  Having a burden and praying will lead to compassion, and motivation to answer the call ourselves, as God leads.

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