Who Will Go and Work Today?
6th Sunday after Pentecost
Who Will Go and Work Today?
Text: Matthew 9:35-10:4
You know that look. We have all had it. One eyebrow furls down low. The other slightly rises in skeptical scorn. Your lips pucker in a slanted frown. Your nostrils flare. Your eyes roll to look away.
“Great. Another homeless person coming to ask for help. What’s the story this time? He needs “gas money” (even though he’s riding a bike)? She’s trying to get back on her feet after life has been tough? Give me a break! Life is tough for all of us. Why do they have to sit in the middle of the sidewalk? Why do they have to take up the whole square on Kings Street in St. Augustine? Why do they have to waste my time with these fabricated sob stories?”
Now we rightly and wisely can be carefully discerning in these situations since some do lie or abuse the help they ask for. Yet more often than not we see that person at the bottom of the social totem pole and we give that look. We are disgusted and quickly turn away.
Those are people obviously in need of help. But have you ever stopped to think who else might need help? Have you ever stopped to think how someone besides yourself might be doing?
We speed through our lives at a million miles an hour, focused on what we want and we need to do. Meanwhile the lady behind you in the checkout line at Publix? She’s buying that food in her cart for the luncheon she’s hosting tomorrow—after the funeral for her husband. That guy you wanted to curse and scream at because he cut you off and nearly hit you with his car? He was driving so poorly because he was choking back tears while thinking about his wife who just left him. That neighbor walking the dog past your house every day? She religiously walks her dog because that’s about the only thing that makes her happy these days. Her marriage is strained. Her children are sassy, rebellious teens. She’s probably about to lose her job. At least the dog hasn’t let her down. But all you’ve ever thought to care about was whether she picked up what the dog dropped on your lawn.
Meanwhile, the people around us are hurting for other reasons as well. That lady at the gas station who has so many piercings she couldn’t pass through airport security, who also has every inch of body covered with tattoos (and you can tell because you have dish rags bigger than her clothing)? That lady is actually overcompensating for the guilt she feels for living a sinful life.
That man at work who takes pride in his hard exterior and leather-like attitude who drinks like a fish and smokes like a chimney? He’s trying to hide the fact that he doesn’t know what his purpose is in life and doesn’t know what’s going to happen when he dies.
That quiet young lady who keeps to herself at the end of your street? She rarely goes outside or talks to other people because she is so depressed, thinking there is no way God could ever forgive her for what she has done.
All around us people are hurting. They are struggling. They are sad. They are lonely. They are confused. They are grieving or mourning. They are afraid and unsure. They need help. Most importantly, they need Jesus.
Sometimes we live our lives inside of our comfortable little bubbles. It’s a busy bubble. We work all day. We have meetings. We have kids to take care of. We have doctor appointments. We need to get the car fixed. We have laundry and dishes to do. And that grass won’t stop growing in the summer! It’s a busy bubble we live in, but we like it because it’s our bubble. Yet all the while there are people outside of our little bubble that need so much help. Do we ever even stop to think about them?
Jesus was out preaching and teaching. He was going from town to town and village to village. He was teaching in the synagogues. He was preaching in the streets. He was talking to people in their shops. And what incredible things he saw!
Every town, every village, every person needed help. Some had diseases. Some had sicknesses. Some had dying family members. They all seemed to be helpless and hopeless.
Jesus’ heart went out to them. His stomach turned upside down. It burned with a fire to help. All that comes out in just one verse, verse 36: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
These people had so many problems and pains, so much sickness and suffering. But Jesus looked at them with great compassion not just because they had problems. He had compassion because they didn’t know how to deal with their problems. They didn’t know how to find peace in suffering. They didn’t know that they Messiah they were waiting for was going to take care of their biggest problem—sin. They didn’t know that this promised Messiah was going to take away all their problems by giving them eternal life.
The Good Shepherd looks with compassion at sheep wandering, straying, or just plain lost. As he looked with compassion on the suffering people back then, so he does today. And so great is the compassion of this Good Shepherd that he himself became a Lamb that would sacrifice himself for the sheep.
Jesus knew that people living back then and that people living today needed help with their sicknesses and diseases. So he healed some, as he does sometimes today. But he also knew the bigger problem. There are sicknesses and diseases because this world is imperfect. There is suffering and hurt and trouble because people are sinners. There is guilt because I, like all others, have disobeyed my God and broken our relationship. There is a lack of hope because the only thing we have coming is punishment, death, and hell for our sins.
But again the Good Shepherd knew this. He had such great compassion for these wandering, straying, and lost sheep that he gave himself to bring them back. He bought them forgiveness. He gave them the hope of heaven. And he still gives these gifts today. It is Jesus’ great compassion and love that moved him to give us by grace what we don’t deserve.
Yet there is a problem. The good news is that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. Everybody is forgiven. Everybody is offered the gift of perfect life in heaven. The bad news is that not everyone believes this. Some have never heard this. Some are unsure about this. Some simply refuse to believe this.
Jesus in his great compassion offers salvation for free to everyone in the world. But something like five out of every seven people in this world don’t believe that and thus won’t receive that. Also, Jesus finished his work of salvation, so he isn’t here visibly to preach and teach anymore. That leads Jesus to say this in verse 37: “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”
There are lots of people—billions of people—who need to hear the good news of Jesus. They need Jesus’ forgiveness. They need Jesus’ peace. They need Jesus’ hope for eternal life. Billions of people need to hear this, but the workers are so few. Here then is the hugely important question we just sang: Who Will Go and Work Today?
If the field is full of grain—people who need to hear God’s word—who will go and work in the field? Who’s going to tell them about Jesus? Who’s going to give these people hope? Who’s going to care enough and have compassion enough to look outside of their little life bubble? Who Will Go and Work Today?
You have the privilege of knowing Jesus as your Savior. You know his peace, his joy, his hope. But others don’t. So here’s what Jesus wants us to do. First, verse 38: “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
The first thing you can do is to pray. Pray for those who preach and teach the Word of God. Start first with your own pastor and teachers. We have been blessed with incredible opportunities in Palm Coast. We have many contacts with people through our church, our school, our kids carnival, our VBS and much more. Pray for me as I go about the work of preaching and teaching God’s Word. Pray for our 21 teachers this next fall who will come into contact with hundreds of children and parents who need to hear the Word of God. Pray especially for Mr. Rimpel, our new teacher being installed today. It is a big move from San Antonio to Palm Coast to a big school in a unique location. Pray for his family’s peace of mind and for blessing on his ministry.
Then when you are done praying for our large CTK staff of pastor and teachers, pray for more workers to go out into the harvest field. Pray for our college and seminary that train pastors and teachers. Pray for more young students willing to give their lives to going out into the harvest field. Pray for lay people—regular church members—who are learning how to share their faith in their daily lives.
Then when you are done praying for workers in the harvest field of America, pray for missionaries in the harvest fields all over the world. Pray for Pastor Mutentami from our sister church body, the Lutheran Church of Central Africa. Pastor Mutentami is the president of that church body. He reported at our conference three weeks ago that last year they baptized over 5,000 people. They had more adults join their church body last year then our entire Lutheran church body in the United States combined. They have over 40,000 members in that church body, yet only about a dozen pastors. “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” Pray for them and many others around the world.
So many people need to hear about Jesus! Jesus himself identified the big mission field in front of us. But did you note what he did with his disciples? He pointed out how helpless and hopeless the people were. He pointed out that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. He told them to pray for more workers. And then . . . he sent them out to go and be those workers!
He does the same today. Jesus’ compassion for us fills us with such joy and peace. It fills us with a similar compassion that wants other people to know what we know. It moves us to pray for more people to preach the Word of God. But as we look at the ripe harvest fields and wonder Who Will Go and Work Today? Jesus tells us, “You will go and work today!”
You can post Bible verses on your Facebook page or Email them to your friends. You can ask that lonely woman walking her dog how she is doing. You can ask her if she would like to know what a friend we have in Jesus. You can tell the angry, ornery man at work, “I forgive you. And so does Jesus.” You can invite your confused friend to church. You can pass out your pastor’s business card to anyone you like. You could make a couple follow-up phone calls for your church. You could go door to door canvassing. You could pass at brochures. You could volunteer at our massive kids carnival just four months away as we make connections with thousands in the community. If 14 young teens from Houston, Texas could splash onto our campus and make a huge impact in just one week, what could you adults do who stay here permanently in Palm Coast?
All around us people are hurting. They are struggling. They are sad. They are lonely. They are confused. They are grieving or mourning. They are afraid and unsure. They need help. Most importantly, they need Jesus. But,
1. Hark! The voice of Jesus crying, “Who will go and work today?
Fields are ripe and harvest waiting; who will bear the sheaves away?”
Loud and long the Master calleth; rich reward he offers thee.
Who will answer, gladly saying, “Here am I—send me, send me?”
2. If you cannot speak like angels, if you cannot preach like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus; you can say he died for all.
If you cannot rouse the wicked with the Judgment’s dread alarms,
You can lead the little children to the Savior’s waiting arms.
3. If you cannot be a watchman, standing high on Zion’s wall,
Pointing out the path to heaven, offering life and peace to all,
With your prayers and with your offerings you can do what God demands;
You can be like faithful Aaron, holding up the prophet’s hands.
4. Let none here you idly saying, “There is nothing I can do,”
While the multitudes are dying, and the Master calls for you.
Take the task he gives you gladly; let his work your pleasure be.
Answer quickly when he calleth, “Here am I—send me, send me!”
Who Will Go and Work Today? We will!
Posted on June 30, 2013, in Church, Sermons and tagged Church, Great Commission, Homeless, Matthew, Matthew 10, Matthew 9, Ministry, Mission, Mission Work, Missionary, Preaching, Sermons, Service, Serving, Teaching. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.