36But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
37Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
38Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:36-38, King James Version)
Sheep Having No Shepherd
We love to think of Jesus as being filled with love and compassion, and so He was and is, but to what end is that compassion aimed? Did you know that there is some disagreement among certain churches of our day as to the true aim or objective for sending missionaries to foreign lands.
The famous author, Pearl Buck, who herself was the daughter of a missionary, believed and promoted the idea that the purpose of missions was not to go to foreign lands and change the religious beliefs of the natives of that particular country. Rather, the purpose was to provide good, medical, and humanitarian aid to the people. Her ideas caused a sweeping change in the 1920's and 1930's among many prominent denominations. Was she correct?
To answer that question, let us look at today's passage from Matthew 9. Was Jesus moved with compassion because the people were in need? Was He moved because they were simply hungry or needed physical healing? No! Jesus was moved with compassion because of their lost estate. What He saw was a multitude of people who were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
The religious leaders of the day had so lost focus on what it meant to be followers of God, that they were only teaching them traditions of men--they were not teaching them how to come to God. Jesus, the Chief Shepherd came to give life to His sheep! In His three years of ministry on this earth, He was not just reaching people with the message of salvation. He was also training men to take up the office of shepherds! He was training the future leaders of His true church!
These men would then, as we learn in subsequent books of the New Testament, reach out to the Gentiles as well as the Jews, traveling into the lands of Asia spreading the Gospel of Christ. Were they simply giving humanitarian aid? No! They were teaching the people that the only way to God was through Christ. Christ was not just a good man! He was and is our Savior, who came to this earth for the sole purpose of saving a people for Himself.
Did Christ accomplish that goal? Yes! Even today, the only way for any man, woman, or child to come to God is through the Lord Jesus Christ. His death on the cross was sufficient to save a people for Himself! By claiming the shed blood of Christ as complete payment for our sins, our lives are transformed. Once we were servants of this world, living for our own pleasures. Now, we are servants of the Living God! We are servant of our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Gone is the love for the simple pleasures of this earth which are here today and gone tomorrow. Instead, they have been replaced by the joy and peace of Christ. In Him we put our complete trust, for we know that according to Romans 8:28, "All things work together for good, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
That is why we are here, and that is why we send missionaries to foreign lands. We send missionaries to foreign lands with the good news of the Gospel of Christ. For the greatest need of all men, women, and children is not food, healthcare, and humanitarian aid, but it is Christ! Yes, let us reach out to those in other lands with food, healthcare, and humanitarian aid, but let us use these as tools to teach them about their greater need--their need of Christ!
It is important for us to remember that even today, the people of this world are going about as sheep having no shepherd to guide them. How is God using you to fulfill that need? That is a question we must each ask ourselves, and before God, answer! That is why we are here!
God Bless You,