Session #073 Works Ahead
Scripture Matthew 9:35-38
Summary Following Jesus’ declaration and teaching, His demonstration and training, Matthew 9:35-38 provide the transition to the king’s delegation and tasking. Simply, there are works ahead and workers are needed. Sadly, the numbers remain few. The solution? Pray for the Lord of the harvest to send out, to drive out, to push out, to thrust out workers.
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:35–38
Following Jesus’ declaration and teaching, His demonstration and training, Matthew 9:35-38 provide the transition to the king’s delegation and tasking. Simply, there are works ahead and workers are needed. Sadly, the numbers remain few. The solution? Pray for the Lord of the harvest to send out, to drive out, to push out, to thrust out workers.
What do You See? Are You Moved by What You See? (Matthew 9:36a)
Jesus saw the crowds that are both the Jews and Gentiles, both the rich and the poor, the reputed and the nameless. Jesus was not just in the synagogues (church), but also in the cities and villages, in the marketplaces, and the homes.
Jesus was moved with compassion. In Greek, splagchnízomai means bowel. Jesus was deeply moved and affected, right to the core, gut-wrenching.
Other mentions in Matthew that Jesus was moved with compassion are found in 14:14, 15:32, 18:27, and 20:34. It was not just pity or feeling sorry for someone but compassion that moved Jesus to act. Jesus was aware and did not remain apathetic.
What moved Jesus? In Matthew 9:36b, it was “because they were weary (ekluo) and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”
Weary is made of two parts in Greek, ek (out) and luo (to loose). This is the opposite of having or holding it all together. Everything is falling apart, exhausted of the body and the mind.
Scattered in Greek is rhipto meaning to cast, to throw, to disperse, to scatter. To be cast aside is being marginalized or thrown down (likened to be used and abused).
The other Bible translations for these two words are, fainted, and were scattered abroad, harassed and helpless, distressed and dispirited, confused and helpless.
Does this describe someone you know, inside or outside of the church?
Description of “Like Sheep Having No Shepherd”
Shepherd pictures a leadership picture. All through Scripture, God appoints leaders to shepherd His people. They are expected to shepherd people in the way God would shepherd them.
God selects Joshua in Numbers 27:15-17 to lead Israel, Micaiah prophesies against Ahab in 1 Kings 22:17, Ezekiel prophesies against Israel’s leaders in Ezekiel 34:1-10.
God Himself will come to shepherd His people as prophesied in Ezekiel 34:11-31. God did not provide just any shepherd, but David or the Son of David as in Ezekiel 34:23–24 (cf Matthew 9:27).
Once again, Matthew was establishing the Christological intent.
Physical Conditions Reveal Spiritual Realities
Jesus came to save His people from their sins regardless if the sins are personal or corporate.
What do you see? Do you see people weary and scattered? In need of a shepherd? In need of the good news of the kingdom? Are you moved with compassion by what you see?
Compassion begins with seeing – not just glancing and turning away, but seeing people, seeing their needs, getting our eyes off of ourselves and onto the needs of others.
What is the King asking you to do? What is your kingdom assignment?
Works Ahead! Harvest and Labourers (Matthew 9:37)
Notice the change of illustration from a flock of sheep to fields of harvest as Jesus tells His disciples that there is a great need. Many people would receive Jesus if they know Him but workers are needed to bring the message to them.
Jesus declared and demonstrated. The time has come for delegation. The messianic movement and ministry are not about maintenance but multiplication. There is work to be done and workers are needed. Works Ahead!
This is not just numerical implications (fields) but eschatological overtones (harvest). In Matthew 13:38-39, “the field is the world … the harvest is the end of the age…” and in John 4:35 “Do you not say ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest?” Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes (see) and look (see) at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”
It is the ripeness of people and the ripeness of time. We are not to wait for the last days because we are in the last days. The time is short. There is an urgency.
But … Do Not Miss the Contrast of Plentiful vs Few
The population estimates in AD1 in the world is 255 million with the Roman Empire being 45 million, Judea’s population is 5 million.
Today the world’s population is 7 billion, and 33% are Christians. The workers are still few.
Workers (ergates) – Who are These?
And He said to His Disciples. In sending out His disciples later, Jesus used the same term – “for a worker is worthy of his food” (Matthew 10:10). Workers are disciples and disciples are workers. Similarly, Paul referred to those who worked with him as ‘fellow workers” of the kingdom (2 Timothy 2:15).
Jesus did not just hire workers from the outside. He had to raise disciples from within who would then be His workers. You cannot do the work of the King if you do not know the King, or understand the ways of His kingdom.
Sadly, not all Christians are believers who consider themselves as disciples of Jesus Christ.
In Acts 11:26, the believers were disciples first before they were referred to as Christians (negative label), as ones belonging to or following the Christ. Today, believers are called Christians first, and then we hope that they will be disciples of Christ.
In reality, there are too few disciples. Are you a worker of the kingdom? Are you a disciple? Archippus needs to be awakened before he can align and be assigned.
Therefore Pray (Matthew 9:38)
In this great need at this hour, Jesus tells us to go down on our knees in prayer. We are petitioning, appealing, beseeching the Lord of the harvest – not for more church members – but more workers and disciples. Prayer always comes first. There is no successful mission without prayer.
Only the Lord of the harvest can do it as He knows where the needs are. He knows how to awaken an Archippus, to align and to assign him. He knows who to send out. We pray God sends.
The original Greek text is ekballo meaning to drive out, to push out, to thrust out, to cast out. Signalling an urgent necessity.
ekballo was used in Matthew 8 and 9 when Jesus cast out the demons. In the same way that Jesus casts out demons and people with unbelief, we are to pray for Jesus to thrust out disciples and workers into the harvest.
The call for us is not to come and see Jesus but He declares that His disciples must go and tell the world. From Acts 1:8 to Acts 8:1, we can see the account of how “those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.’ Acts 8:4.
Scattered is diaspeiro meaning to disperse, to sow a seed. Cross-reference this to Matthew 13:37-38 that the good seeds who are the sons of the kingdom will be sown. We as sons and daughters of the kingdom must be scattered to reach the scattered.
If God needs to use persecution to get the church out of the church, He will. He may use other challenges or circumstances to wake us up. Or we can be wise to the signs of the times and respond accordingly. What do you see? What moves you?
Who Else is ekballo-ed in Matthew?
In Matthew 8:12, the sons of the kingdom will be cast out (ekballo) into outer darkness; and
Matthew 25:30 where the unprofitable servant is cast into the outer darkness. The unfaithful and unprofitable sons and servants of the kingdom are cast out.
Which ekballo do you prefer? To be thrust out on assignment or to be cast out into the darkness?
Delegation and Tasking (Matthew 10:1)
The disciples were the answers to the prayer that Jesus prayed. You are the answer to the prayer for Jesus to thrust out workers into the harvest. You are the answer to someone’s prayer for help, for the good news of the kingdom. Our kingdom assignments are not activities to participate in, but answers to prayer.
Works Ahead – End of School Zone
We love the declaration and teaching which is alignment. We love the demonstration and training which is alignment. Are we ready for the delegation and tasking which is the assignment?
What do you see? Are you moved by what you see? Ask God to show you the needs of the people around you, and to break your heart.
The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. The messianic movement and ministry are not about maintenance but multiplication. Disciples are needed to be workers.
Pray and be ready, willing when God thrusts and pushes you out.
Kingdom assignments are not activities to participate in, but answers to prayer. Someone out there is crying for help, for deliverance, for salvation. You may be the one Jesus is delegating and tasking.