Posted by: duncandrews | March 23, 2011

Harassed and helpless

Yesterday we heard a great sermon at Moore College chapel from the indomitable Greg Anderson on just two verses – Matt 9:37-38:

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

It was one of those moments when a very familiar passage springs out at you with a new life – and a reminder that there’s always fresh light to come from God’s word.

There was a lot that was significant for me – that ‘ask’ is really ‘beg’ or ‘implore’; that God is the Lord of this harvest; that ‘send out’ is more like ‘thrust out’; that the answer to our prayer may well be ourselves – but what has stayed with me most was the verse before these, v. 36, the immediate cause for Jesus saying these things:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

This perception (that the crowds were harassed and helpless) and this reaction (compassion – the word here is a really strong verb – a gut wrenching compassion) are so different from my own perceptions and reactions to the ‘crowd’ around me. I too often just see the hard edge of our world and react with my own hard-edged cynicism or defensiveness or despair. Or, even worse, resignation and apathy. I find it easy to forget that, for all the proud self-sufficiency of our culture, so many (deep down perhaps all of us?) are just like this.

Harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

So beg the Lord of the harvest to shove out workers into his harvest field.


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