21 November 2017
Reading: Matthew 8-10
1 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness. 2 Here are the names of the twelve apostles: first Simon (also called Peter), then Andrew (Peter’s brother), James (son of Zebedee), John (James’s brother), 3 Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (the tax collector), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, 4 Simon (the Zealot), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him). (Matthew 10:1-4 NLT)
Jesus had already chosen twelve disciples from among the many who were following him. These twelve had been with Jesus for several months and were with him constantly, even when many others of his disciples came and went. Now Jesus changed them from disciples (students) to apostles (messengers) as he gave them authority to step out in faith and do the work he had been doing alone.
This is in the context of the previous verses; “36 He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. 37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields.” (Matthew 9:36-38 NLT)
Jesus saw needs too great for one man alone to meet, even if that one man is the Son of God, the Savior of the world. His response was to pray, to challenge his followers to pray, and then to empower his followers to do what he was doing.
Jesus still feels great pity for the people, because their problems are still great and they still don’t know where to go for help! The answer is not to ignore the people and their problems, nor to burn out the available harvest workers. The answer is more workers!
Jesus took followers and made them leaders. Were they ready? No and yes!
They had much to learn, but the act of stepping forward in faith – because of Jesus’ trust in them – was the next step in the process of preparation.
Father, Lord of the Harvest, please send more workers for your fields. The harvest is great and the problems are many. And please help us to recognize them when you send them so we can help them go to work on the many problems of the people!