Faith of Jesus Daily Devotional - Day 42
Matthew:9:35-38 The Workers Are Few
Previous Context: devotion:Matthew:9:27-34 Jesus Heals the Blind and Mute
What is God doing?
"Jesus went about all the cities and villages"
I would like to speak specifically about the Father as seen in the eyes of Jesus. We have said at several points what Jesus is seeing the Father do or say that is what Jesus is doing and saying. So then it follows that Jesus sees the Father pointing Him from town to town and sees HIM pointing to the multiple obediences of teaching preaching and healing which Jesus for love of the Father gladly obeys. The Father is in the act of establishing one Lord and Savior over all creation in order to mercifully retrieve mankind out of the clutches of a death sentenced upon him at his fall, the proof of which is a corruption and decay. In order to convince man of this the Father mercifully withheld the full sentence of death long enough to walk man step by step through all the major points of dispute and rebellion by various means and at the same time establish a substantial profile of who that Lord and Savior is to be. Jesus now is the fulfillment of all that the Father has intended and worked towards in the flesh and will be confirmed so by the Father throughout the living portion of His ministry and ultimately by transference of our sin upon Jesus, the substitutionary death of Jesus for our death, the resurrection of Jesus, the accession of Jesus to the right hand throne, the indwelling of the Holy Ghost the seal (promise/guaranty) of salvation in believers, the time for the Holy Ghost through believers to spread the seed and harvest of the gospel message, concluding in a final triumphant return of the risen Savior for the purposes of closing off the withheld collapse of this world, the judgment of the unredeemed, the creation of a new heaven and earth with the multitude of redeemed saints forevermore in hand.
It began as a unconditional promise made to Adam and Eve immediately following their fall given by a simple picture: a serpent striking the heel of a special Seed, the seed crushing the rule of the serpent. It was further detailed in a sacrifice God then made of an innocent animal that was used to cover the shame/guilt of the two that they had tried to cover up themselves with mere decaying fig leaves.
"He was moved with compassion on them"
The Father has always been moved with compassion for man. Some say that the God of the Old Testament is an angry God; easy to say for a generation of stiff necked hardened people who are always pushing the tolerable limits of morality and self reverence. My children think that I am a big angry dad when I have to correct their bad behavior with strict discipline. If they were to only reread that testament with an eye on God's ultimate plan and purpose, they would be reading a testament full of astounding mercy and compassion. Remember that big angry God easily could have wiped the slate clean and started all over, but HE did not for HIS compassion and name sake.
Note that Jesus advances "because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" particularly "sheep having no shepherd". Throughout these many years of trial, the nation has had no better memorable verse than "The Lord is my Shepherd"; they have sung repeatedly the verse, many have called it their favorite. It is not that they do not believe that they have a Lord, it is that the image of the Lord they believe in has been corrupted by them to a point where it is little or no Lord at all, it is a vain imagination and not a true Shepherd. It is as if their shepherd has led them astray and unprotected, to despise and reject the real Shepherd as He has been revealed truly face to face to be.
"The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few"
Jesus sees another thing about the Father that is revealing: the harvest being plenteous. One would not know by looking at it from our vantage point; rather the opposite. Ask yourself what a plenteous harvest looks like? Would it be people just one step away from believing needing perhaps one more word, one more piece of advice cause they are oh so close? Or would it be people fighting the gospel message tooth and nail? People lashing out, kicking and screaming like a wild horse about to be saddled? Jesus is saying that the plenty is already there, but look at everything that we have seen so far of the reactions towards Him. Perhaps we need to change the perspective of what in the field that we are looking for!
What is man doing?
"They fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd"
Who is man's shepherd as man sees it? Seriously! Who or what would we agree collectively is filling the role of being our shepherd? There would be many answers. Though few would ever admit it, most every answer boils down to self. Self is our shepherd; is it not?
Faint is a funny word that is hard to grasp. It means something similar to our word "was/were". I suggest that it's use in this sentence is approximate to saying that they are not what they were; the picture of which would be someone fainting. That is the description given of Israel for certain and in a large sense mankind in general. We are not what we were, but neither are we yet what we will be. We are in a lessened state of fainting and also scattered.
What does this passage tell us about the about the commands and faith of Jesus that saints are to keep/guard?
"Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest"
Don't rush by this prayer request in too much of a hurry, notice what Jesus doesn't say. He did not say go out there into the field yourselves and harvest, He says to pray ye therefore (therefore - because of this state). If He is addressing this to the disciples gathered round, the suggestion is that those that actually harvest are someone other than them (at least in their present state).
We can take that mystery labourer even further:
kjv@Psalms:68:11 says "The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it". If you look at the directives given to the disciples, each are more along the lines of publishing/spreading the word. kjv@Luke:24:47-48 commands disciples "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations", that "ye are witnesses of these things". In kjv@Matthew:13:47-52 it is the angels that sever the wicked from the just in the net pulled to shore. In kjv@Matthew:13:24-30 believers are pictured more as wheat amongst the tares, the servants of the householder ones that have been there throughout, these servants being the ones that gather and bundle.
What then is the saints role in all of this?
(See also: kjv@1Corinthians:12:28 )
While what the Lord has given us to do in the field is important work no doubt, it would be a stretch to say that it is the actual harvest. We tend to think of the harvest as winning souls to Christ. That might better be thought of as the first germination of the seed, other than helping to spread the seed I am not so sure that we have much of a hand even in that. Our task better put is to mutually grow and build, foster and strengthen, support and protect and become as one fruitful unto the harvest.
Pray for this growing season, but also pray that he will "send forth labourers into his harvest".
Next: devotion:Matthew:10 Jesus Sends Out the Twelve