We're gonna do this morning a little bit in in a mixy style, if you remember the knit mix. We're gonna have some a couple of portions of teaching separated by some by some songs or a song. And we thought we would take a break from Proverbs this morning, even though we've only done a couple of sessions. We thought we would take a break from Proverbs, and have a think about these famous words from the end of Matthew chapter 9. And so you've got a bible with you, if you bought your own bible, or you've got 1 on your phone or your device.
If you want to turn to Matthew chapter 9, and we're just gonna read verse 35 to 38. And we're going to as we come back together, back together as a church family this morning. We're gonna think about both the opportunity and the need that there is to keep going with the message of the Lord Jesus Christ. It has been a weary, difficult year for everybody. We're back together now.
We hope lord willing that by this time next month, the regulations will have finally eased. And there's a temptation for us just to drift. Isn't there? Drift back into comfort and old ways? But we want to use this morning as a chance to rally 1 another to keep seeing the need before us and to get the passion for sharing this message of Christ.
So here's Matthew chapter 9 verse 35. Jesus went through all the towns and villages teaching in their synagogues. Proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them. Because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples, the harvest is plentiful, but the work is a few. Ask the lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field, into his harvest field. I was reading a a quote this week by a by a chap called Warren Wiersby, who was writing about an old minister in this country. And this is a letter that the that the minister had sent home to his wife on holiday. So here's the quote.
While on a European holiday, In 18 63, this minister was a chap called Dale. He wrote to his wife, and he said the lake of Lucerne is before me. The noblest scenery as something in all Europe. But I declare that there is nothing in this magnificent view, which makes me feel half the thrilled. I have some time I've sometimes felt when I've looked down on the smoky streets of Birmingham from the railway, as I have returned to my work among you after a holiday, The thought of having to do more or less directly with all that mass of human thought and action, which is covered with the ceaseless smoke which hangs over us The thought that you and I together, May with God's help save multitudes, sends the blood through one's veins with an exaltation and glow which the most magnificent aspects of the material universe cannot create.
And I just love that quote when I read it, and it drew me up it drew me up short, really. Because here is a man who is on holiday looking at a at a gorgeous lake, a gorgeous bit of natural scenery, And even as he looks at what he thinks is probably the most magnificent natural scenery in Europe, he says, it doesn't give me half the thrill. As I have when I stand and look over the smoky streets of Birmingham, and I see all of those people, that massive human thoughts so many who are without the lord Jesus Christ. And when I see that scene, it's more impressive to me than any lake or mountain range. Because I know that here are people who need the Lord Jesus Christ, and you and I, my wife, and our church, we might be able to do something to lead as many as we can to Jesus in the short time that we have.
And I thought that was just so challenging, such a challenging perspective, that mixture of distress and compassion and and excitement as he looked over the place where he lived. And forget Birmingham just for a moment. And now think about your setting. Think about the school that you attend or the office that you attend or the neighbors that you live with, Do you feel something of that? Do you feel something like what is being described in that quote?
We all love to go away and have a break and have a holiday. But are you more excited about going on holiday or coming back and seeing the area to which the Lord has called you? And all those people who are without Christ. Do you feel something of the blood through your veins that he's talking about? That we have something to do for Christ in the short life that we It's a challenging challenging perspective, isn't it?
And that is how and I hope you picked it up in the reading. That is how the savior felt when he came to When Jesus Christ came and he looked upon the crowds, he too felt this mixture of distress, that there was no savior for them, compassion, that someone needed to reach out for them, and love for them, and thrill and excitement that this was the mission for which he had come to shepherd those who were lost. That's how the savior felt. And so this morning, as we look at what he did and what he saw and what he said, I hope we can see together what an opportunity still lies before us. The world that we live in is weary of the messages that are poured on it all the time.
And we have an exciting opportunity as a church to reach out for the for the glory of Christ. So 3 points this morning, what Jesus did, what Jesus saw, and what Jesus said. Let's see if this There we go. What Jesus did. So have a look at this verse from chapter 10.
This is acts chapter 10, and this is how the apostles summarized the Ministry of Jesus. They said, God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with Power, he went about doing good. I think that's a wonderful summary of Jesus' ministry, isn't it? He was anointed by God, anointed by the Holy Spirit, and he went around doing good. That what his ministry was, to do real good to the people who were around him.
And we see that here in this passage. Just notice the Notice the allness, and notice how comprehensive Jesus' ministry is here in Matthew 9 verse 35. If you want to have a look at that, Matthew 9 35, Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness. That's quite an undertaking, isn't it? He went through all of towns and villages, all of them, didn't leave 1 alone.
He went to all of them teaching and helping. In Matthew chapter 4, this kind of allness is picked up again, if that can come up Matthew chapter 4 on the screen. Matthew chapter 4 says, and Jesus went throughout all galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease, and every afflict among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, and he healed them. That's pretty comprehensive, isn't it?
He went to all of these different places, went to all who had an affliction, taught all of them, healed all of them, did good to all of them. That was his ministry. And so we pick up in Matthew's gospel that there was no town or village that was beneath Jesus. No town or village that was beneath him. He didn't just avoid the poor ones and focus on the rich, or avoid the rich and focus on the poor, go to those who were more like him, and avoid those who were different.
He went to all his ministry was for the all. And as you can see in this passage, Jesus Christ went to the all, not as a tourist, but as a teacher as a teacher. I was reading a story this week about a runner called Ricky Gates, who lives in San Francisco, and he undertook this amazing challenge where he decided that he was gonna run every single string in the San Francisco area. Every single street that he could find, he was gonna run up and down it. And he decided to do that because he realized he'd lived in this place for many years, but he hardly knew the place.
He didn't know what sort of people lived there, and what the city was like, and what the demographics were. He'd lived there for years, but know so little. And so he decided to visit every single street in his city. And then the maps I've got the map, if you wanna see the map up there. And this is this is the the San Francisco area that he he he ran.
And it took him running 7 hours a day. He ran for an average 7 hours and 22 minutes a day for 45 days. So imagine that 7 hours a day of running for 45 days and he rang 1317 miles in that time in order to get to know the city that he lived in. But as you read about it, as magnificent as that challenge was, it was really just for his own experience. He wanted to learn, he wanted to get to know people.
He wanted to have that experience of getting to know his city. But when Jesus Christ went through all the towns in When he ran every single street in Galile, he didn't do it just for an experience. He went to teach them. You see that in verse 35? What did he do?
Teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom. That was his emphasis. That was why he traveled so far and wide so he could declare that in God, he had he was God's king, and he had come to save the lost and to redeem those who were stuck in their sin and to teach him about the kingdom of God. He wasn't just going on a very long tour bus. He went to proclaim that God's kingdom had arrived in him.
And all the various signs and miracles that he did were just to point to that truth that the king has come and that people need to repent of their sin, turn from their old lives, believe in him, and be born again. The signs were to point to that message. And so That was the campaign of the Lord Jesus. It was a ministry of doing good. Now the truth is you and I, we live in a big, smoky part of the world.
We live, even in our borough, in a place where there are lots and lots of little towns and villages, lots and lots of them. We live in them. We make up little towns and villages, little streets all over the place. There are so many schools in our borough. There are universities with thousands of people who have come from the nations who don't know the Lord.
And in every single 1 of these towns and villages, just like Jesus experienced, there will be different afflictions People will be weighed down by different things. Some will be feeling totally confused about who they are, and what it means to be a person, what it means to be a man or a woman, so confused about identity and what their life about that they just feel weary of the world's messages. Other people will be weighed down by health issues, feeling sad and broken and lonely for a multitude of different reasons. Other people will look like they've got all their lives together. But underneath the surface is a deep addiction to wealth and prosperity and getting on in the world.
There are all kinds of different afflictions in the towns and villages that we live in, and altogether are under the power of sin. And the question is, if Jesus was here, Where would he go? He would go to all of them. He would go to all of them. He would try and make his way to each and everyone If Jesus saw all of these people, what would he say?
He would proclaim the gospel to them and have compassion on them, and teach them about the kingdom of God in their difficulties. That's what really struck me as I first looked at this Jesus had a big vision. It was a really big vision. Loads of towns and villages, thousands of different streets. He wanted to travel on every single 1 to help people, to do good, and to make God's kingdom known.
And so that's the challenge, isn't it? We live in a place with loads of towns and villages, and we need to go where Jesus went. You see, you just think if you're a Christian here, think about the place on earth you became a Christian. Think about the town or the village or the university that you were in when you became a Christian. Aren't you thank for, that Jesus didn't overlook that place.
That Jesus at some point established a gospel light for you in that place. He went to that place, and you came to know him. And he calls us to follow him to go to every place that we can with the good news. So that's what Jesus did. In a moment, we're gonna sing But first, we're gonna look at what Jesus saw, what Jesus did, what Jesus saw.
Now, here's a little here's a little challenge for you. You'll have to bear with me on the link to the passage here, but it should be it should be fun. Here's a couple of pictures that I want to show you. And in each 1 of these pictures, something is hidden there. Okay?
There is some something hidden in the passage in the in the picture. And in this 1 here, it's a little snake. Okay? Now apparently, women are much better at these things than men. And so what you've got to do is look at it and in 45 seconds, which is what they give you in the official challenge, you've got to see if you can spy the snake.
Alright? Does anyone actually think they know where it is? Yeah? You're closest. Go on there, Adrian.
Where do you think? Oh, what? You got it already? That took us ages in the hub to find that. There we go.
Alright. Click on Paul. For those who couldn't see it, there it is. A little snake. Alright?
Next 1. Now, this 1 is pretty tricky, so there is an umbrella hidden in this picture. K? Somewhere. There is an umbrella hidden in this picture.
Can anyone see it? Yeah. You can see it again. So have you just looked at this before? No.
Okay. Go on then. What? Do you know even after show the next slide, Paul. Even after I showed Dean that, he still couldn't see it.
So we thought that that was gonna be pretty challenging even when it was spotlighted. Is there 1 more or did I cut it out? I think I cut it out, didn't I? So Those are little things. I told you the link was gonna be tenuous, but bear with me here.
Because for most of us, I think when we look at those pictures, Well, certainly not for Aiden, but for most of us and for me, definitely. What we see is just a mass of kind of colors and textures and shapes And it's very hard just at first glance to actually discern what is there. And so very often, we need help when looking at things like that. To actually see what is really there, to understand what is really there. And this is the amazing thing you see about what we read about Jesus in this passage.
He didn't just look at the crowds and see a mass of colors and textures and shapes. He didn't just see them as a great big blob of color. He saw what was really there. He saw the need that existed amongst all of those people. Look at Ezekiel 34.
This is an amazing passage where the Lord is talking about what has happened to his people. It says, woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves. Should not shepherds take care of the flock, You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool, and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the loss.
You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd. And when they were scattered, they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill, they were scattered over the whole earth and no 1 searched or looked for them. And now when Jesus looks at these people, that is what he sees.
He doesn't see a group of people who are healthy and well fed. He sees people who have been brutalized and confused and scattered by the world's messages. He sees people in great need. That is what he sees. And it's interesting, isn't it?
Because look how many teachers the people had in verse 35. Jesus went through all the towns and villages teaching in their synagogues. You see, that's interesting, isn't There were synagogues everywhere. Galile was full of people with words of advice, It wasn't without messages, it wasn't without religion, it wasn't without advice. There were synagogues everywhere, But Jesus says they had teachers, but they had no teacher.
They had pastors, but they had no pastor. They had shepherds, but they had no shepherd. They had healers, but they had no healer. You might remember the story in Mark's gospel of the woman who'd been bleeding for 12 years. And we're told that no matter how many doctors she went to, they couldn't make her better in fact she grew worse.
Amazing, isn't it? There were doctors, but they hadn't made her better. There were teachers but they hadn't been teaching the proper things. And Jesus, as he looks upon them, feels compassion. And that word doesn't just mean emotionally moved.
It means that Jesus was physically hit by the state of people around him. Maybe think back to a time when someone you love very dearly has been undergoing something very difficult. Maybe a sudden diagnosis or a disease and you've had to watch them go through it, really unable to help them. Or if you've had a child who's been bullied at school perhaps, And every day, they come home sad because they felt insecure and bullied at school. You don't just feel emotionally moved by the trial.
You feel physically hit by it. You can't focus on anything else. Their suffering has become your suffering. Their sadness has become your sadness. You can't sleep at night.
That is the sort of word that we read of Jesus. That's what he felt as he looked upon those people, that they had teachers but no teacher, pastors, but no pastor. And he was moved towards them. And I have to confess that that vision is too often missing in my own heart. But as I look around the people in my road, in my area, the people I know in my family who don't know the Lord, I don't often, or as much as I should, feel this mixture of pain and excitement.
Like that man felt as he looked over the smoky streets of Birmingham. Very often, I just don't find those feelings in my heart. That I'm more excited to be here than anywhere else on earth, because here is where the opportunity is. Here is where we can make a difference for the lord. Often I just feel weary that the task is so big, and it doesn't seem to make much difference.
And so, well, the point. Or I feel indifferent because largely, people seem to be pretty happy and pretty content and don't look very harassed and helpless. And so you think maybe the need isn't as great. And so I need to pray for eyes to see what Jesus saw. Not just feet to go where he went, but eyes to see what he saw.
That as I look out at people, I would feel not just emotionally moved from time to time that they don't know Jesus, but physically hit that they are without Christ in this world and rushing towards judgment. I need to pray that I would hear what Paul heard from the Macedonian man. Have a look at this quote from the screen from Acts. During the night, Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him. Come over to Macedonia and help us.
After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to I need to feel that because even if people aren't crying out, or even if they don't appear harassed, they are. They are. The messages of this world have left people weary. The false religions of this world have not offered them a true savior. Up and down this country, we have a state church, which in large measure has completely abandoned the gospel.
They have outposts in almost every town and village. Sometimes 2 or 3 in the same town or village, hundreds of yards from each other. And yet very often, a clear testimony to the true Jesus is missing. There are other synagogues everywhere, religions everywhere, secular advice everywhere, but it has left people weary and helpless and harassed, and on top of sin that dwells in every heart, people are desperate for a Savior. And I need to pray that I would see what Jesus saw.
So we've seen where Jesus went, and we've seen what Jesus saw. And now lastly, we're gonna see what Jesus said. See what Jesus said. Have a look with me at verse 37 of this passage in your Bibles. After Jesus had seen this, he said to his disciples, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers a few ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
I was listening to a story this week that an evangelist called Roger Carswell was telling And he was telling the story about a time that him and his wife were getting ready to cross a very busy road. And I think it was a dual carriageway or something. Either way, there was lots cars coming, and it was proving very difficult to cross the road. And there was a man on the other side of the road who was trying to cross the opposite way from they were, and they could see that he was getting increasingly agitated that no 1 was stopping for him and that there was gonna be no opportunity for him to cross the road. And he was getting so straightened, and they could see him just boiling up and up and up.
Until eventually, he decided to walk out into the middle of the road, put his hands up, stop the traffic manually, and just crossed to the other side. And he stormed over to the other side, passed Roger and his wife in a in a bit of a huff. And Roger Carswell, if you've ever heard him before, saw in that moment an opportunity. And he said to the man, excuse me, you know, I know the traffic here is is is really terrible, isn't and, you know, it's a pain trying to cross roads like this. Do you know there is a place where there will never be traffic again?
And if you return from your way of life now and trust in Jesus, you can go to a place where there'll never be traffic again, and you'll never be angry. Which is not a line that most of us necessarily would have thought for straight away. And the man stopped and looked at him and said, you know, I've just come back from burying my mother. And she was always telling me stuff like that. And in that moment, it's just strut absolutely struck.
I've just come back from burying my mother, and she was always telling me stuff like that. Now I don't know where that story went, but the reason it struck me is because I'm pretty sure if in that situation, in that situation, I would not have seen an opportunity there. I would not have seen an opportunity. I would probably have been equally as annoyed as that man trying to cross the road. Or if I wasn't, I certainly wouldn't have thought about telling him a place where there's no traffic that he can go to if he believes in Jesus.
And yet, this is the challenging thing from this passage, isn't it? That as Jesus looks upon these massive people, he doesn't just see a need he sees an opportunity. He doesn't just see people who are harassed and helpless. He sees an opportunity to do something about it. The harvest is plentiful, but the work is a few.
Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Now, interestingly, this harvest language is often used of judgment. If you look back to passages like this in the old testament, Joel chapter 3, you'll see what I mean. Let the nations be roused let them advance into the valley of Jehovahhoshaphat. For there, I will sit to judge all the nations on every side, swing the sickle for the harvest is right, come trample the grapes for the winepress is full.
So this idea of the harvest being plentiful, and the harvest can mean judgment that the time has come to swing the sickle. The time for judgment has come. The time for God's enemies to be destroyed is now here. But it can also mean this idea of gathering people in through the kingdom, and I think both are probably true here. There's Jesus, looks on at the crowd, he sees people under the power of sin, who are heading towards a moment of judgment, when the sickle will swing and cut down all who have not trusted in the Lord Jesus as their Savior, and so therefore, now is the time of opportunity.
Because judgment is coming, now is the opportunity to tell people about the kingdom so that they can be gathered in through repentance and faith before that moment. And Jesus Christ, as he looked upon this group of people, this massive people. Even he knew that it was a job too big for him, in 1 sense. So in Luke chapter 6, we're told that Jesus goes up a mountain to pray, and he stays on the mountain praying all night. And then after he's finished praying, he gathers the 12 to them, to him, and sends them out.
So an all night prayer meeting is followed by sending people out into the harvest field. And it's almost as if Jesus was praying to the father at that time, the harvest is plentiful, but the work is a few. Father, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Send more workers so that we together can go out and proclaim this kingdom mission, he appoints the 12, and then he sends them out. And now here in Matthew 9, he's got those workers but they need to pray for more.
And you see, the problem here then is not lack of opportunity. The problem is not a lack of opportunity. The fields are brimming. The harvest is plentiful. But the workers are few.
Those who go where Jesus went, and see what he saw, and feel what he felt are few. And so we must pray for more. In the world, I was reading this week. There are 7700000000.0 people approximately, and 3.23 of them live in unreached people groups. Now I know those numbers are almost too big to even comprehend, 3230000000.00 people in unreached people groups.
In the UK, I don't know how many people up and down this country live in towns or villages or streets without a gospel light. For them to hear or without a Christian for them to share it with. But just from experience, if you think about your school, the school that you're in, or you think about your office that you work in, or the road that you live on, what do you reckon the numbers are? What do you reckon the numbers are? Of those who see what Jesus sought, feel what he felt, and say what he said.
And behind the numbers, are real eternal souls. Are are real people made in the image of God heading towards a day when they will answer for their lives to the Lord Jesus. With very little time left. The need is overwhelming. First 37, look look at the overwhelmingness of verse 37.
The harvest is plentiful, but the work is a few, but it is not helpless. Something can be done about it. First 38. Ask the lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field And that is a very encouraging word from the savior, isn't it? Because whose harvest is it?
This is the Lord's harvest. This is not our harvest. We are not the lords of the harvest. This does not all depend upon us. The weight of reaching the nations does not finally land on our shoulders.
This is the Lord's harvest. It is his harvest, and he simply calls us to pray. And so if you are in school, perhaps you are in soul and rooted, and as you walk the corridors of your school, you you actually do feel overwhelmed that the amount of people who see what Jesus saw, and want to say what Jesus said are so few, that the world views all around us so powerful and influential that to stand against them seems almost impossible. Perhaps you just feel paralyzed by fear, that even if you wanted to say some You wouldn't even know how to or what topics to cover, and if anybody asked you a question, you'd be undone. We've all been in that that place.
And Jesus is saying something like, could you walk every single corridor and simply pray? That the lord would raise up more workers for that particular harvest field that you're in. Could you say as you walk the corridors of your school, lord of the harvest, please raise up more workers. So that we can reach this place for Jesus? Could you do that at university?
Could you run every single street in your area? Praying, lord, more workers, please. More workers. It's interesting. We've been praying for insight, the school's work in Kingston, Well, for a long time and support them as a church.
And, you know, there's a great need in insight for the schools in this borough at the moment. 3 full time positions loads and loads of volunteers for lunchtime clubs and after school clubs are needed. People just to give up a little bit of time to tell the children of this borough about Jesus. The harvest is plentiful. The opportunity is massive.
But at this point in history, the workers are few. And Jesus says, pray to the Lord of the harvest, that he would raise up workers for that harvest field. We can pray that in our neighborhood in our offices wherever we are, lord, raise up workers for this harvest field. You see, in some sense, We live in a very different world from First Century Galaxy, but basically it's the same, isn't it? Basically, it's the same.
There are synagogues everywhere, but no teachers. People are weighed down by the messages of the world. People are harassed and helpless in need of the savior. And so we must pray. But we must also be ready to be the answer to our prayers.
You see, in 1 sense, what we have here in Matthew 9 is a unique mission at a unique time, but in Matthew 28, this commission goes out to infinity. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, teaching them about the kingdom of God. And the thing is, what you find as a Christian, is that these 2 things go together, that as we go where Jesus went, and see what he saw, and pray how he prayed, we will find our own hearts be lifted to the task. We will find that it's actually quite hard to pray. Lord, raise up more workers for the harvest, but not me, Lord.
We will find that as we pray it genuinely, our own hearts are warmed to the task, where God has put us. So, yes, we must pray. That is the main application, but also, we must be willing to do the more uncomfortable thing. Which is to be the answer to our own prayers. And so look, we feel weak, we all feel weak, and we feel weighed down by sin and Jesus loves us, and he died for us.
And he's gathered us in, and this is his harvest. This is his harvest. And he uses people like us. He doesn't say pray for the great stage evangelists, the great names, although Lord send more of them. But for ordinary workers to go out into ordinary parts of the harvest field, to see what he said, see what he saw, and say what he said.
So back to that quote, right at the beginning. Perhaps you've got a holiday lined up this summer, maybe just a day away, some time away to reflect, to enjoy scenery, to enjoy some time with friends or family, but you know what is more exciting than going away, and that's coming home. What is more exciting than seeing a lake is seeing a smoky city without Jesus. What is more exciting that looking at the mountains and the hills is seeing a massive thought and confusion and feeling the blood course through your veins, that together we might be able to do something to see what Jesus saw, to say what he said, and to reach people for him. Let's bow our heads and pray together.
Father, we thank you so much for this message. We pray that you would help us as a church family to see what Jesus saw, to feel compassion on the lost, and to do what he did, to go to the places where the lost were, and to pray how he prayed for more workers, and that lord, we ourselves, will be ready in the harvest fields you've called us in. To share this message of Jesus. And we ask it in his name, amen.