What do you see when you look at the crowds of people in the world? Jesus sees men and women who are harassed and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).
Too many people lack solid spiritual leadership in their lives. Like sheep among wolves they wander helplessly in a world full of danger and deception. Many fall prey to false beliefs and false hopes which lead them astray, often to disastrous results.
Jesus is moved by a deep sense of compassion when he sees the multitudes, knowing that they are in need of a shepherd. They need spiritual guidance from someone who is caring and competent.
When Jesus looks at the crowds in this world he also sees a great harvest, souls ready to be cultivated for eternal life. But he warns that workers are lacking (Matthew 9:37).
Harvest is a time filled with joy, especially in a year when fields have produced a bountiful yield. But that time of celebration can end in sadness if the fruit of the field is not harvested in a timely manner. Without workers the crops will fall to the ground and rot.
Jesus assures us that souls are ripe for a spiritual harvest. The time is now. Tomorrow may be too late. The joy of harvesting lost souls for eternal life is grand. The loss of waiting too long is tragic.
Jesus is God. He can do the impossible. He can send his angels to bring in the harvest. He is the Good Shepherd. He can find and save the lost sheep. He can guide and bless the flock.
But Jesus does something that may seem terribly risky to us. He calls on his followers to join in the task of harvesting souls, finding and caring for those who are lost. In fact, he entrusts the job to them . . . to us.
How can we possibly carry out this difficult job of harvesting precious souls? The task is ponderous. The barriers to success are overwhelming. We are unqualified and weak. Where can we find the power and wisdom necessary for such awesome work?
Jesus urges us first to pray. Pray to the Lord of the harvest that he will send workers into his harvest, Jesus tells us (Matthew 9:38). Prayer is our lifeline to God’s throne of grace and mercy. Here we find the vision and the vigor to act with confidence and to succeed.
Be advised, however, that as we pray it may turn out that we are the workers we are praying for! Prayer puts us in touch with the heart of the Lord, a compassionate heart that sees the crowds and steps forward to teach, preach and heal. God calls us to share his heart and to be his hands.
Pray for the Lord to send workers into his harvest, Jesus says. Many generations of believers have answered this call and share in the joy of the harvest. Let’s be faithful in our generation and join them in the task and in the triumph.
May the God’s Spirit inspire us to share in his great harvest,
Brother Richard Foster