Monday, February 15, 2021

Moved By Compassion

Shortly after Jesus faced Satan in open combat (Matthew 4 and Luke 4) He began His earthly ministry. One of the first things that He did was to call to Himself followers, that is disciples and out of them He chose twelve that He called apostles (Matthew 4:18-22, 5: 1-11, Luke 6:12-16) Once this was completed He began to show His disciples the Father's will, nature, character, purposes and plan through His actions and Words, "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Great multitudes followed Him, from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them..." (Matthew 4:23-25, 5:1-2)

Jesus had approximately three and one half years to impart Kingdom principles into His disciples before His departure from earth to return to His father. During that time He Himself would lead them into life situations and circumstances that would require them to look to the Father's abilities and not their own. They observed Him preach and teach but moreover, they watched as the Father released the supernatural through Him. He cleansed leapers, cast out demons, healed paralytics, restore sight to the blind, restore speech to the mute, "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." (Matthew 9:35) and He raised the dead (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43, Luke 7:11-15, John 11:1-44) But the disciples saw something else about Jesus. Apart from all the teaching, preaching and miracles, "When Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd." (Matthew 9:36)

Many Christians are compassionate, but few have compassion. What is the difference? A person can be compassionate, feeling sympathy and concern for others, but do nothing about it. However, to have compassion is to have sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others and then do something about it. This is what the ministry of Jesus was about. It was revealing to humanity the true nature of the Father, compassion for humanity. Jesus had been sent by the Father (John 6:38) to do something about the fallen, oppressed state of human suffering under the tyrannical powers of darkness.  Next, we see that His compassion for humanity is revealed to His disciples, "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 9:37-38)

Interestingly enough many in the church today will pray this prayer because they are compassionate towards to state of humanity, but that is as far as they go. By praying for laborers, they expect God to answer their prayer by gathering others to go labor not thinking that they themselves are the laborers. Immediately after Jesus spoke to His disciples to pray in this manner, "He called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease."  (Matthew 10:1) He commissioned them to, "Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying,'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons..." (Matthew 10:6-8) The very prayer that Jesus had told His disciples to pray had now become an answered prayer through them. They were the very laborers that they were to pray for.

It is sad to here ministers tell believers that all they have to do is to pray this prayer and the congregation will grow because the Lord of the harvest will send out laborers. We don't know where these laborers are or where they come from, but somehow the Lord will bring in the harvest through these laborers. Jesus never meant this prayer to be a prayer of hope, but one of faith. Faith that "God is at work in the believer to both do His will and His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13) That all believers, "are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10) That all believers are to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded." (Matthew 28:19-20)

The church (all believers) is the only vessel on this planet that has the "Good News." The good news is not limited to being saved from sin (which is certainly enough) but that the moment one places faith in Christ, they become New Creations. (2 Corinthians 5:17) They are declared righteous and have peace with God. (Romans 5:1-2) They become a child of God (John 1:12) God has given them unlimited rights and privileges as His heirs and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) (to name a few points concerning God's Good News to humanity) Let's remember, "That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..." (John 3:16)

I do not believe that there is one believer that would want to see even the most vile sinner perish without Christ. So let us keep in mind God's incredible power to transform lives and then release upon that transformed life all the wonderful promises that He freely gives. Let us move on from praying to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers only and believe that we are the very laborers that God is calling to go forth and reap a harvest of souls through His power working in us, all for the Father's glory. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)   

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