Sun, Sep 02, 2001

HEAR THE CALL! MATTHEW 9:35-38

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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HEAR THE CALL!
MATTHEW 9:35-38
 

Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 9 as we are going to be looking at the Lord sending out laborers into the field. And as you are turning there, listen to this story from Pulpit Digest that will speak of our topic this morning. The name of this story is "Whatever Became Of Evangelism?" and it goes like this:

Now it came to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact, the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry.

Week after week, month after month, and year after year, those who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing. Year after year they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, and declared that fishing is always to be a primary task of fishermen.

These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings for local fishing headquarters. The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, however; they didn’t fish.

In addition to meeting regularly, they organized a board to send out fishermen to other places where there were many fish. The board was formed by those who had the great vision and courage to speak about fishing, to define fishing, to promote the idea of fishing in faraway streams and lakes where many other fish of different colors lived. Also the board hired staffs and appointed committees and held many meetings to define fishing, to defend fishing, to decide what new streams should be thought about. But the staff and committee members did not fish.

Large, elaborate and expensive training centers were built whose original and primary purpose was to teach fishermen how to fish. Over the years, courses were offered on the needs of the fish, the nature of fish, how to define fish, the psychological reactions of fish, and how to approach and feed fish. Those who taught had doctorates in "fishology." But the teachers did not fish. They only taught fishing.

Further, the fishermen built large printing houses to publish fishing guides. Presses were kept busy night and day to produce materials solely devoted to fishing methods, equipment, and programs, to arrange and encourage meetings, to talk about fishing. A speaker’s bureau was also provided to schedule special speakers on the subject of fishing.

After one stirring meeting on "The Necessity of Fishing," one young fellow left the meeting and went fishing. The next day he reported that he had caught two outstanding fish. He was honored for his excellent catch and scheduled to visit all the big meetings possible to tell how he did it. So he quit his fishing in order to have time to tell about the experience to the other fishermen. He was also placed on the Fishermen’s General Board as a person having considerable experience.

Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who don’t fish were not really fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct. Is a person a fisherman if year after year he never catches a fish? After all, were they not following the Master who said, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19)? Is one following if he isn’t fishing?

- John M. Drescher, Pulpit Digest, July/August 1978

Kind of a humorous story and yet, it does speak about us and what we are to be doing, or what we are not doing. In other words, do we talk about fishing, or are we actually out there fishing? With that said let’s pick up our study this morning in Matthew chapter 9, beginning in verse 35, and see what the Lord has for us.

MATTHEW 9:35-38

The religious leaders tried to stop the spread of people coming to Jesus, no longer would people come to them for answers, for wisdom, for religious matters, and that bothered them, it hurt their pride. And thus, they tried to discourage people from coming to Jesus. Now, because they could not deny the miracles He was doing, they said, "...‘He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons.’" Matthew 9:34.

But the crowds, not finding in their dead religious system what they were looking for, are now finding it in Jesus! He gave them hope! He gave them peace! He gave them life! Thus, as Jesus went around teaching, people came from all around to hear and be touched by Him. And all the religious leaders could do is stand by and try and discourage the crowds from coming, from being touched by Jesus. How sad to be that hard and cold towards God that they were keeping people away from God because Jesus did not fit their religious system!

Like back then, we see today people so enraptured with their religious affiliation that Jesus is not even mentioned. And their loyalty is to the church rather than to Jesus. It is not "I’m a Catholic!" or "I’m a Baptist!" or "I’m am a Calvary Chapelite!" No, it should be "I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus!" I know people that still go to churches that teach things contrary to the Word of God, and they know it, and they won’t leave because of their loyalty to the church. And thus, the church is more important to them than Jesus is! And that is exactly how the religious leaders of Jesus’ day felt and acted!

Now these religious leaders didn’t stop the crowds from coming, they couldn’t. You see, the need of the people was too strong and they were willing to go beyond their dead religious system and seek after the living God. And guess what? They were touched by Jesus, healed by Jesus, lives were transformed by Jesus. It is as Jeremiah 29:13-14b says, "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity..." If you are looking for Jesus, you will find Him, He is not going to hide Himself from you. He wants to touch your life and heal you and bring you into that everlasting joy that is only found in Him.

So as Jesus ministered to these multitudes, looked upon them, the Bible says "He was moved with compassion for them." The Greek word that is used for "compassion" speaks of feeling pity deep down into the inner bowels, the gut you might say. And you may be wondering why Jesus felt that way about the multitudes - they were the chosen people, the Jews. Why did He feel so much pity towards them?

We don’t have to guess for Matthew tells us "Because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.In other words, they were cast down from weariness. They were beat up, harassed, discouraged, put down, ignored, isolated. And the implication is they were mangled by wild beasts and they dropped down from utter exhaustion.

What in the world or who in the world caused them to be in this horrible condition? The religious leaders. The ones who were to watch over them, care for them, shepherd them. But instead of leading the sheep as a shepherd did, they were driving the sheep like cattle, and it wasn’t working any longer! It is as Jesus said in Matthew 23:4 of the Scribes and the Pharisees, the religious leaders and the things they were placing upon people. He said "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers."

They were placing heavy burdens upon the people, weighing them down with work to do to make them more holy, accepted by God. And these religious leaders were not even doing these things, maybe because they saw themselves better than the common person, which they did believe. Thus, instead of bringing people to God, showing them the love of God, they were driving them away from God, discouraging them, and not showing them what the love of God is all about. In fact, in Matthew 11:28-30 we are told by Jesus, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Do you see the compassion, the love that Jesus has for people? He wants to give them rest, hope, love, encouragement, He wants them to see God through Him and to guide them with a easy yoke and not a heavy burden as the religious leaders were doing. They were beating and driving the sheep, while Jesus was loving, feeding and leading the sheep. I don’t know why some people want to be beat up and driven, but they do. I would rather be lead by Jesus and loved by Jesus and fed by Jesus, wouldn’t you?

And I believe it is out of a heart of compassion that Jesus now looks and sees that there is a great harvest of souls to be gathered into the kingdom of God. You see, I don’t believe you will see, nor will you care for the lost unless you have compassion for them, recognizing that outside of Christ they will be burned in the fire of His judgment, they will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire apart from Him. You must look at people with the backdrop of eternity in mind and that will cause you to speak of the love of Christ to them.

Someone wrote that: There is no way to describe Hell. Nothing on earth can compare with it. No living person has any real idea of it. No madman in wildest flights of insanity ever beheld its horror. No man in delirium ever pictured a place so utterly terrible as this. No nightmare racing across a fevered mind ever produces a terror to match that of the mildest hell. No murder scene with splashed blood and oozing wound ever suggested a revulsion that could touch the border lands of hell.

That is the reality of not knowing Christ. We must not forget that. In speaking of this place Jesus said, "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched– where ‘Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched– where ‘Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire– where ‘Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’" Mark 9:43-48. The "worm" is a "maggot" and thus, these maggots and these fires will have your eternal body to feed upon!

Not a pretty picture, nor is it intended to be. Thus, God’s desire is that none should go there and so He has provided a way out, and that is through Jesus. It is as Jesus said in John 14:6,"...‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’" There is no other way to come before the Father except through Jesus! And, as I have said, God’s desire is that none should go there. In II Peter 3:9 we are told of the coming judgment of God against a Christ rejecting world. And we read "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." That is God’s desire, but tragically, not all will come to Him! We do have a free will to choose and many will reject the free gift of life that is found in Jesus!

Now, back in Matthew, as Jesus looks at the harvest, the multitudes, He then looks at the laborers, and He see’s a vast difference in the numbers. There are very few laborers as compared to the harvest that needs to be brought in. So what can be done? Maybe we should form a committee to study the problem? Or maybe we should form a committee on how to evangelize? Or maybe people need to know the necessity of evangelizing? How about calling Manpower to hire laborers? Now some of these may not be necessarily wrong, but they are not the focus of what we are to do.

Then what in the world should we do? I will give you a clue, it is a four-letter word! Did you get it? It is simple and yet it is powerful! Are you ready? Here it is, PRAY! We need to pray that God would raise up and send out laborers into the field for the fields are white for harvest! That God would spur us on to go out and share Jesus! Interestingly enough, The words "send forth" in the Greek speak of to "thrust out, force them out as from urgent necessity."

I think it is easy to become complacent in our walk, forgetting about the lost and where they are going. And thus, the Lord needs to get us moving, to help us to see the urgent necessity of sharing Christ. There are people dying every day not knowing the Lord and we are more concerned about other things. Why? Because we do not have that compassion for the lost that we need. We have forgotten where the lost will go outside of Christ.

It is as Dr. Kermit Long says:

With all our education, our fine buildings, our image of the church, we are doing less to win people to Christ than our unschooled forefathers did. We’re no longer fishers of men, but keepers of the aquarium, and we spend most of our time swiping fish from each others bowl.

I have to agree with his perspective of the situation. The number of Christians are not growing that much, they are just moving from one church to another. What a sad state of affairs when the ocean is filled with fish to be gathered into the kingdom!

- Christian Victory

Again, I truly believe it is a matter of the heart that drives a person to their knees, asking the Lord of the harvest to raise up laborers for the harvest, to send them into the fields. Let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean, that it is a matter of the heart:

For three days [Jonathan] Edwards had not eaten a mouthful of food: for three nights he had not closed his eyes in sleep. Over and over again, he had been saying to God, "Give me New England! Give me New England!" and when he arose from his knees, and made his way into the pulpit they say that he looked as if he had been gazing straight into the face of God. They say that before he opened his lips to speak, conviction fell upon his audience.

- J. Wilbur Chapman

Also, the great preacher in Scotland, John Knox, who looked out his window at the streets below, seeing the hurting, lost and dying people, cried out in earnestness, "Give me Scotland or I die!" And John Knox carried with him that zeal to the close of his ministry. Often he would be supported by attendants in order to reach the pulpit; but when he arose to speak the divine passion so filled his soul that one of his friends said: "So mighty was he in his yearning that I thought he would break the pulpit into bits."

Again, when God gets your heart, when He gives you a passion for the lost, nothing will get in your way. And in a sense, He is thrusting you out into the fields because you can’t just sit there and watch people die outside of Christ! This world is filled with people who hunger to know God, and there are many religious people pushing them away from God, placing heavy burdens upon them. And all the Lord wants from us is to go fishing, reach out and touch people for Jesus and He will change lives, not only their’s, but our’s also!

In Isaiah chapter 6, as Isaiah see’s the Lord and see’s his own sinful condition, he is touched and cleansed by God and right after that we read in Isaiah 6:8, "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’..." The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are asking the question, and as we continue on reading, we see the response of Isaiah. We read "...Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’"

May that be our hearts desire, to go and share the love of Christ with those that don’t know Him. Today we have these extreme sports that are living on the edge of life and death. These people who are involved in them, obviously, have a passion for them and they are willing to risk everything just to do them.

What about you? Are you willing to risk it all to go out into the fields and share Christ? And please understand that I am not speaking of the jungles of Africa, unless of course you are called there, but right here in Manitowoc. Do you have that passion to share Christ with people at work, in your neighborhood, at the store, and-so-on? Do you have a passion to win souls for Christ? If not, pray that the Lord would give you that passion for there is such a joy in seeing a person come to know the Lord.

In His book, Jesus’ Final Warning, David Jeremiah said:

Some years ago, someone gave me this definition of a great missionary church. A missionary church is not a missionary church because it has a large missions budget, or because it sends many of its people to the field, or because it hosts an annual missions conference, or because it has a full-time missions pastor. A missionary church qualifies as a great missionary church only when it becomes a church full of those who are missionaries wherever they are and wherever they go. That’s what the Lord had in mind. Institutional missions were never invented to take over the role of individual missions in our lives- and that is one reason why we are not reaching the masses today.

- David Jeremiah, Jesus’ Final Warning, p. 127

How true a statement that is, and the reality is, it speaks of living what we believe! Now I have been studying the Scriptures for a number of years, and I can tell you this with certainty, chapter 10 of Matthew follows chapter 9 of Matthew! I know, brilliant. But look at what takes place right after the Lord tells them to pray for God to send out laborers into the fields, "And when He had 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. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. These twelve Jesus sent out..." Matthew 10:1-5a.

Jesus sends His men out, calls them by name, just as He does with us and sends us out into the fields that are white for harvest, into the lakes that are filled with fish that are hungry!! Let’s not just talk about going and bringing in the harvest, let’s not just talk about going fishing, let’s do it and see lives transformed by Christ! Let’s be harvesters, let’s be fishers of men!

As I close this morning, let me leave you with these words that will hopefully drive you to pray for the lost and to have a passion to speak to them about Jesus. This poem goes like this:

Let me look on the crowd as my Savior did,

Till my eyes with tears grow dim;

Let me view with pity the wandering sheep,

And love them for the love of Him.

It is as Jesus said, "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. May we do that! May we say as Isaiah did when the Lord called him, "Here am I! Send me."

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