Focal passage: Matthew 9:35-10:8
Sometimes when I’m in public places, especially with big crowds, I like to sit down and “people-watch.” It is always fascinating to observe emotions and body language as people shop or move through a crowd to get to their desired destination. Some walk franticly, weaving in and out of the slow walkers. Others are texting and tripping all over everything as they walk – which can be especially fun to watch.
People-watching can sometimes be good, cheap and innocent entertainment. In Matthew 9:35-10:42, we see Jesus, the Good Shepherd, people-watching for much more than innocent entertainment. He looks upon the crowds and feels a deep and powerful combination of pain and love.
He feels compassion for the people because “they are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus viewed people through the lens of their relationship to God. Then He turned and invited His followers to join in His mission to introduce the shepherd-less crowds to the Good Shepherd.
It never fails when I read this text that I am amped up and ready for Jesus’ mission strategy. How do we take the gospel to the masses? What’s the first step? Sell everything and move somewhere difficult? Open air preaching? Target the major cities? Go after the most intimidating ones first? – The harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few, so let’s get to work!
But then Jesus says, “Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
I am always humbled and corrected by this first step in following King Jesus into His mission. He models and teaches the correct process for His followers.
First, we must see the crowds, then we must feel compassion because they lack Jesus, and next we must pray to the King who is sovereign over His army. See, feel, pray and then we are to go (10:1-42).
Let us keep people-watching, but let’s do it looking through the lenses of the Good Shepherd. Let’s live with open eyes, broken hearts, calloused knees and beautiful feet (Romans 10:15).