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)
I find it extremely refreshing the way Jesus saw our world. When He walked this earth 2,000 years ago He saw a world ripe for a great spiritual harvest. However, what I find so strange is how many “believers” do not see our world today as ripe for a harvest.
The reasons cited are many. There is the vast amount of young adults walking away from evangelical churches. Added to this is the drastic shift in our nation’s sexual value system, and a social and political climate that is increasingly hostile to Bible-believing Christians. Then there is the continued secularization of Europe, and a growing hatred for Israel. Persecution and violence against Christians in the Middle East, and in Africa is escalating. While this is all going on, masses of people are turning to irrational forms of mysticism and humanism as the path to a better world.
But before we give up on a great spiritual harvest, let’s be honest about the world in Jesus’ day. In His time things were not a whole lot better. He said the vast multitudes of people had no true shepherds to guide them to God. This is in spite of the fact that there were essences (mystics), political insurrectionists (zealots), religious perfectionists (Pharisees), liberal humanists (Sadducees), intellectual philosophers (philo), and lastly, a corrupted priesthood (Caiaphas and Annas). All these dysfunctional shepherds left the people scattered and weary. Yet this is why He saw a great harvest. All of their self-appointed shepherds were powerless to meet the true hunger for God and the meaning of life that Jesus was fully capable of offering to humanity.
He had a clear and powerful message.
First of all, He had a clear and powerful message of the Kingdom of God—radical teaching that offered the only way to turn the world around, no matter what type of government was in power or what your ethnic or social status was. He brought a kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy now and a sure hope of an eternal kingdom that was the perfection of every good thing we wish this world could be.
He had a real power that is the right of every citizen of His kingdom.
Secondly, Jesus had real power that is the right of every citizen of His kingdom to live in and bring to a needy world. His kingdom is not a dead church that was built only with words. His kingdom has real transforming and healing power.
He operated in the supernatural power of prayer.
Third, He operated in the supernatural power of prayer that was united with God’s sovereign and providential power to call, anoint, and send laborers into the fields He had prepared for harvesting.
This is why Jesus sees the twenty-first century as a field ready to be harvested. In His limitless compassion for a scattered and weary world, God will not sit back and just observe how bad things are. It’s time for “believers” to believe.
Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising (Isaiah 60:1-3)