This month my church has been Praying for the Harvest along with a bunch of other churches across Canada, so I wasn’t surprised that the passages about said harvest stood out to me today.
I think what gets me about Matthew 9:35-38 is just that it comes after all these amazing things Jesus is doing. It’s like he does all this amazing stuff, then turns and looks at his disciples and goes “Your turn.” He says the harvest is “plentiful”, and I guess they could see that clearly with the crowds following him. But then they’re supposed to pray for more labourers (disciples) to come and continue to preach the gospel to the people. The elevation of prayer as work is a reminder that prayer is an important aspect of my day, not just something that can be breezed over.
Then the disciples are sent out to actually work the harvest. This whole part is permeated with how hard it will be to preach the gospel to people. They aren’t supposed to bring anything with them. As someone who carries around a lot of things just in case (its the camp counsellor inside me, sorry), I would probably be the person with an overfull hikers backpack getting ready to head out who Jesus walked up to and said “Hand it over,” to.
We, joining the harvest, are promised to be provided for to fit our needs, even to the point of the words to say when under persecution. It reminds me of Moses and how he was afraid to speak to Pharaoh, even though God was with him, so he had Aaron come along to do the talking for him. I don’t like talking to people, so the promise of the words to say are comforting.
When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. (Matthew 10:19)
Some things that I never noted in this passage before was 1. that not all the towns in Israel would hear the gospel before the Son of Man came. I’m not really sure if that correlates to telling the world before the second coming, or just to the death and resurrection, and 2. the disciples were sent out only among the lost sheep the first time around. I find it interesting that only Jews were targeted during these outings, since the saving grace of Jesus is extended to Gentiles like me. It makes sense, since he came as the promised Messiah for the Jews, I just never noted that before.
Walking away from today’s readings, I continue my prayer to be able to see the harvest around me, and to be burdened with compassion on them as Jesus was. Being complacent in evangelism opportunities (or being afraid) is something I personally am trying to work on, as it goes completely out of my comfort zone. Would you pray with me that we see the harvest around us and at Ryerson, and that we would actively work towards harvesting it?
There are so many things I didn’t comment on – the calling of Matthew (beautiful story), Fasting, miracles, no fear and dividing families … but this is what stood out to me right now.