These chapters pick up right after Jesus delivers the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus travels throughout the region of Galilee teaching, preaching, and performing miracles (mostly healing people). He finishes assembling his twelve apostles and sends them out on their first mission to proclaim, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” When messengers are sent from John the Baptist to Jesus to see if he really is the one they were waiting for, Jesus assures them that his words and deeds confirm he is the Christ. He also warns about judgement against those who saw his works but did not repent.
36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
How does what you read change your vision of God?
I used to think that God was somewhat reluctant to save us, and that there will always be distance between us. These chapters, however, show me that God’s plan of salvation involves him being close to us. Jesus spends time with people in their homes, shares meals with them, gets to know people’s problems and helps them, takes time to explain things to his followers, he even heals a leper by touching him. Even though we were unclean in our sin, God did not keep his distance. God did not work out salvation from some far distant heavenly throne. Jesus came and walked among us and touched us. Jesus even invites us to be yoked together with him, tied together side-by-side.
How does what you read change your vision of yourself or others?
Matthew 9:36 always convicts me. Jesus saw people as they are; he recognized that they were in a bad situation. I think it is easy to look at people who don’t have obvious outward hurts and believe that they are doing okay. In fact, looking only at outward prosperity and success can lead me to envy. However, seeing people the way Jesus did leads to compassion. The true need for every person everywhere is reconciliation with God. The external and material circumstances of a person’s life can be a distraction from their true need.
How will you Go With God because of this reading? (What is an action step?)
An action step for me is what Jesus tells his disciples to do Matthew 9:38: pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
Where did you see Jesus in these chapters? (What made you think about Jesus?)
These chapters are all about Jesus. Almost every verse mentions Jesus by name, refers to Jesus, or is Jesus speaking. This is Jesus in action. Really exciting to see after all the foreshadowing in the Old Testament!
I almost wrote that it’s impossible to not see Jesus in these chapters, but what Jesus says to the unrepentant cities in Matthew 11:20-24 reminds me that that’s not necessarily true. These people not only saw Jesus in the flesh but saw him perform mighty works, yet they did not change their lives. It would be easy to skim these chapters that are familiar to me and just read about Jesus rather than see Jesus.