Saturday, July 06, 2024

2024.07.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 9:35–38

Read Matthew 9:35–38

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Jesus go (Matthew 9:35)? Doing what three things? What did He see (Matthew 9:36)? What did He feel? Why? To whom did He speak (Matthew 9:37)? What does He say about the harvest? What does He say about the laborers? What does He command them to do (Matthew 9:38)? To Whom? That He do what? Into what? Whose harvest?

How does Jesus respond to seeing the cursed humanity? Matthew 9:35–38 prepares us for the morning sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Jesus responds to cursed humanity with compassion in which He sends preachers and commands prayer for them.

The curse Reverser. Matthew 9:35 ties the passage back to just before the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 4:23). Jesus is preaching the good news of the kingdom to all the household of Israel (cf. Matthew 10:6). There is no sickness or disease that can withstand this Preacher, Whose gospel mission will reverse the curse altogether.

The curse displayed. But man’s sin has brought something worse than illness upon humanity. They are troubled and chaotic (“weary and scattered,” Matthew 9:36, NKJ). Humanity has multiplied, but as sheep without a shepherd, the multitudes have exactly the opposite of fruitfulness and dominion (cp. Genesis 1:28). 

The compassionate Savior and God. This reminds us how we have sinned against our original design and purpose, and how very much we deserve God’s wrath. But here is a wonder. Jesus, God’s revelation of Himself in the person of the Son, displays the character of God in His human nature. And His response is compassion! 

The saving plan to use preachers. Marvelously, in these multitudes Jesus sees not merely presently tragic victims but also future harvest. Though grievous, as all the consequences of sin are, Christ has not been caught off guard. This is a field of His providential, elective planting. And His words to the disciples divulge that His plan for gathering this harvest in is to employ laborers.

Thus, Jesus immediately commands them to pray for these laborers. Praying “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done” means, in part, praying for the raising up of Lord-sent preachers. The ignorance and envy of men downplays, or even actively resists, the doctrine of ordination. But an ordained ministry is the generous and merciful plan of the compassionate Savior.

The privilege and duty of prayer. And what else is His plan? Prayer. The Lord of the harvest, Whose harvest it is, and Who uses ministers whom He calls and ordains for the gathering… He is the One Who commands prayer here. He ordains prayer as a means and gives prayer as a privilege. Prayer is a glorious privilege as fellowship with God, and it is a glorious privilege as a participation in His redeeming work!

What trouble and chaos have you experienced? How does this remind you that sinful humanity is under God’s wrath? How are you responding to the fact that it is for the sake of saving people that God endures all of this? How has your trouble and chaos driven you to Jesus as Shepherd? What/whom does He use to gather His sheep? What does He command you to do for these ministers?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your wonderful compassion and Your infinitely wise plan to gather a harvest of those whom You redeem. Please, do send laborers into the harvest. It is Your harvest! So, glorify Yourself, according to Your good pleasure, in gathering Your church to Yourself in Christ, in Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP67 “O God, Give Us Your Blessing” or TPH551 “We Plow the Fields”

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