Matthew 9:37-38 (NIV):
37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
I’m sure we have all seen this passage before. If you have spent any amount of time in church, you’ve likely heard a sermon using this passage as Jesus’ plea for us to take up the role of “worker” in God’s field. And I’m not saying that’s not the case: God does call us to look and see that indeed the harvest is plentiful, and that there is a great need for workers. But maybe we missed something here.
Typically, when this passage is emphasized, they talk about how, in verse 35, Jesus was proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom and that likely, when He said the harvest is plentiful, He was talking about lost souls who need to hear the Good News. But I think that’s only part of it.
Granted, there are lots of lost souls out there and it can be likened to a huge field, and many of them may be ripe for harvest. And there may be a great lack of harvesters willing to work the field. So, I don’t at all want to take away from that revelation, should that be what you read here. But I wonder if there was something else hidden in this passage.
Chapter 9 lists out several examples of Jesus healing people and manifesting miracles. He even raised a girl from the dead in verse 25. Look at the two verse before what I opened with:
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
I think there is a lot of significance looked over in these few verses. First, it says He went to all the towns and villages. This mean He was purposefully driven, making sure no one was left out.
Then it says He was teaching in their synagogues, emphasizing that knowledge was a high priority to Him. This supports the passage that say “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Specifically, He was proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom.
And we see that He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He became a shepherd to them.
Finally, we see that He healed diseases and sicknesses. But not just some of the diseases and sicknesses, but all the diseases and sicknesses.
This is the part I want to emphasize.
He went everywhere, telling people about the Kingdom. We get that, and it is the basis of the Church’s evangelical objectives. But what about the healing part? And even when healing does occur today, not every sickness and disease is healed.
Maybe, just maybe, Jesus said this about the harvest, not just because He was being all wise and inspiring, but also because He was tired of doing all this work by Himself. Maybe He was tired, after going to every single town and village, preaching the same message, synagogue after synagogue. Maybe He was tired of being the only shepherd for such a large flock of people. Maybe He was tired after healing every person plagued with disease or sickness.
Maybe He just wanted some help.
And I have to ask; “Are we really helping Him today?”
He didn’t just meet the spiritual and mental needs of the people, and serve as a shepherd to them, but He also met their physical needs. All of them. Are we doing that? Or are we more concerned about our jobs and our schedules and our retirement and our dream house in Florida?
The Harvest is indeed plentiful, but the workers are few. Why? Maybe it’s because we’d rather work on our own fields. Maybe the reason we are not healing people like Jesus did in His time is because we aren’t devoted enough to God for Him to reveal Himself that mightily through us. Maybe we aren’t ready for that level of divine manifestation.
Just a thought.