36) When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37) Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38) Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:36-38)
These verses tell us a lot…
About People– Jesus was surrounded by people everyday. But, to him, they were more than just faces in a crowd. They were individuals who had hurts and burdens and stress and worries. They were people that needed encouragement and comfort and hope. He described them as “harassed and helpless.” I think that is an apt portrayal of people in our world today. The dysfunctionality of so many families, the number of people who are dealing with addictions, the plethora of folks who suffer from depression – are all indications that we are a society of harassed and helpless people.
About Jesus – Jesus was compassionate. It was compassion that compelled Jesus to suffer the humiliation of the incarnation. It was compassion that compelled Him to feed the hungry and heal the sick. It was compassion that drove him to the cross. Compassion is more than feeling bad about someone. It is a gut wrenching feeling coupled with a constraining desire to make things better.
A store owner was tacking a sign above his door that read “Puppies For Sale.” Signs like that have a way of attracting small children, and sure enough, a little boy appeared under the store owner’s sign. “How much are you going to sell the puppies for?” he asked. The store owner replied, “Anywhere from $30 to $50.” The little boy reached in his pocket and pulled out some change. “I have $2.37,” he said. “Can I please look at them?” The store owner smiled and whistled and out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his store followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur. One puppy was lagging considerably behind. Immediately the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, “What’s wrong with that little dog?” The store owner explained that the veterinarian had examined the little puppy and had discovered it didn’t have a hip socket. It would always limp. It would always be lame. The little boy became excited. “That is the puppy that I want to buy.” The store owner said, “No, you don’t want to buy that little dog. If you really want him, I’ll just give him to you.” The little boy got quite upset. He looked straight into the store owner’s eyes, pointing his finger, and said, “I don’t want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs and I’ll pay full price. In fact, I’ll give you $2.37 now, and 50 cents a month until I have him paid for.” The store owner countered, “You really don’t want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies.” To his surprise, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. The boy looked up at the store owner and softly replied, “Well, I don’t run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!”
We ALL need someone who understands! That’s Jesus and that’s why He is a magnificent Savior. But it is not only Jesus…
About Us (His disciples) – Jesus is looking for followers who understand, who recognize the plight that people are dealing with, and who are impelled to do something about it. He is looking for laborers. He wants followers who are willing to be proactive. He wants ardent advocates who are willing to be part of a courageous vanguard that is not content to stay within the walls of the church but must take the risk of going out into the fields where the harvest is. He is looking for people with compassion!
He is looking for me to step up and step out. And perhaps He is looking for you as well.