Matthew 9 is a remarkable passage. Jesus is right in the midst of His powerful three year ministry. People are getting healed, delivered from demonic oppression, and physically fed. The Word of the Lord is going forth with authority. In the midst of all of this, Jesus looks out into the crowd, and has, or feels, compassion for them, because He sees they are harassed and helpless. He then tells his disciples “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Receiving a call to service happens in a similar manner. The Lord often grants sight into a lost, helpless, and hurting portion of our world. It can be as far as away as India or Africa, as close as our own neighborhood. Along with this vision comes a well-spring of compassion and zeal inspired by the Holy Spirit to spur action. At times, it may feel overwhelming, but we are not called to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We are called to labor in the harvest that the Lord has revealed to us.
In the mid-1800s, an Englishman named William Booth began to answer the call of the Lord in the mission field of the darkest parts of England and London. He set up a mission to help the poor and starving, those captured by alcoholism and prostitution. In a letter, he dictated to a colleague ‘We are a volunteer army’. When his son, Bramwell, read it, he declared “Volunteer, I’m no volunteer, I’m a regular!” The word volunteer was crossed out and in its place was written ‘Salvation.’ By the power of God, General William Booth and the Salvation Army pulled England out of the horrible by-products of the industrial revolution that were made infamous by Charles Dickens and other writers of the time. They saved millions from death, and brought many to the eternal life given by Jesus Christ. The Salvation Army still has a large humanitarian imprint throughout the world, and the call to the harvest that the young William Booth answered has changed the course of human history. May you pray for laborers to be called into the harvest, and may you answer the full call of Jesus Christ in your life and be a part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit to your neighborhood, town, state, country, and the utter most parts of the earth!
Matthew 13:47-50, Mark 4:18-20
Similar to other parables, Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven as a great sorting. He uses the imagery of a great fishing net that is used to gather every kind of fish. The net is then dragged to shore and the fish are sorted, the good are kept, and the bad are thrown out. It is a parable of the end of the age. The world will be judged, each person according to their works. The righteous will go on to everlasting life, but the unrighteousness to weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Ultimately, all have fallen short of the glory of God; it is only through the forgiveness that was purchased by Jesus Christ on Calvary that can wash away every sin and blemish, and present us as spotless before the throne of God. It is for this reason that Jesus came, and for this reason that he called His disciples. Two of them, Simon Peter and his brother, Andrew, were fishermen. Jesus called to them, saying “follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They, along with the rest of the disciples, would begin the ministry of the church of Jesus Christ, each one a link in the great net. They would be a witness of Jesus, and as Paul states, “we persuade men.” The goal of the church remains: declaring the life-granting message of Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
As individuals, we are all members of the body of Christ. Although we all have different talents and personalities, the Christ-follower is part of fulfilling the great commission. As we mature in Jesus Christ, our talents and resources, and the light of Jesus Christ more and more are effective in shining the glorious message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. May you be intentional and effective in fulfilling the Great Commission, and may you see the fulfillment of all of your labor.