TEXT: Matthew 9:35-38
TOPIC: Our Mission: Here and Now
Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama
March 18, 2007 (A sermon by Dr. James Merritt)
35Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38“Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
The famous explorer, Rear Admiral Robert Peary, who is creditied as being the first person ever to reach the North Pole, was on one of his many Polar Expeditions headed North with one of his dog teams. At the end of the day, when he stopped to take a bearing on his latitude, he was perplexed to discover that he actually was farther south than he had been at the beginning of the day.
The mystery was eventually solved when he found out that he had been traveling on a gigantic ice floe. Ocean currents were pulling the ice floe south faster than the dog teams were running north. In other words, he thought he was running in the right direction, but he was getting farther away from his goal.
Sounds a lot like the church today doesn’t it. It is moving in many directions, trying many programs, attempting many tasks; but all the while getting further and further away from the goal that its founder, the Lord Jesus Christ, had for it from the beginning.
The one thing that interested the Lord Jesus more than anything else, was the Harvest. I want you to write this down right now. The Harvest is the Mission. Not only is the Harvest the Mission, it is also our mission. The Harvest is our mission.
Let’s look at what our Lord had to say about the Harvest that is also our mission. He calls Himself in Matthew 9:38, “The Lord of the Harvest.” It was the Harvest that moved him to leave the ivory palaces of Heaven and come to a world of woe. He said in Luke 19:10, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
The Harvest is also the reason we are here. He said in Jn 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” This is our mission and it is a co-mission with our Lord who calls Himself the Lord of the Harvest. We are called as laborers to sow the Gospel Seed and reap eternal souls for the Glory of God. I want you to see how the Lord Jesus viewed people as a harvest to be gathered.
I. THE MINISTRY JESUS SHARED WITH PEOPLE, Matthew 9:35
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.”
I want you to see immediately how the Savior of the world became the servant of the world. God’s Son willingly became man’s servant. When Jesus was on this earth, He literally poured Himself out in ministering to others.
Matthew tells us that “Jesus went about all the cities and villages.” The Jewish Historian, Josephus, tells us that at this time there were over two hundred cities and villages in the region of Galilee, which was an area about forty miles wide and seventy miles long.
He estimated that the smallest villages and cities contained at least 15,000 people. So based on that assessment, Galilee probably contained at least three million people.
We are told that Jesus had a threefold ministry: Teaching, preaching, and healing. Now when you think about it, you realize why that pretty much sums up all of ministry. Teaching is ministry to the soul, preaching is ministry to the spirit and healing is ministry to the body.
To put it another way, teaching ministers to the mind, preaching ministers to the heart, and healing ministers to the flesh. There is a place for each one of these ministries because they all meet a need in the lives of people.
But I want you to notice the order: Healing is last on the list, not because it is not important, but because it is not the number one priority.
The two main tasks of the church is preaching the Gospel which is evangelism and teaching the Word which is discipleship. Jesus did not come primarily to heal the sick. He did not come primarily to perform miracles. He did not come primarily to raise the dead. He came primarily to preach the Gospel, to gather the Harvest, and to bring people into the Kingdom of God.
Dr. Vance Havner once said that if they had had a social Gospel in the days of the Prodigal Son, somebody would have given him a bed, a sandwich, and a welfare check, and he never would have gone home.
A Gallup survey discovered recently that only 10% of American Church members are active in any kind of personal ministry, and that 50% of all church members have no interest in serving in any ministry.1
May I tell you the greatest need of our church? We need to turn every member into a minister, and every saint into a servant. May I ask you as a member, what is your ministry? Some of you may think, “I’m too old to minister anymore.” To that I would say, “What’s wrong with the ministry of prayer, or the ministry of giving, or the ministry of faithfulness?”
(Not only the Ministry Jesus Shared with People, but also…….)
II. THE MISERY JESUS SAW IN PEOPLE, Matthew 9:36
“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”
Jesus saw people the way they really were. He could look past their faces and see their fear. He could look into their heart and see their hurt.
When the Pharisees looked at a multitude, they simply saw a crowd of people. But when Jesus looked at a multitude, He saw a flock of sheep.
He saw how the sheep were HURTING.
We are told they were “weary.” The Greek word literally means “To flay or to skin.” In other words, it means to be harassed, troubled, battered, and bruised. I’ve learned that if you talk to anybody long enough, you will find that everybody has had heartache, and everybody has experienced hurt.
He saw how the sheep were HELPLESS.
They were “scattered.” That word literally means cast down, and unable to get up because of a mortal would. If a sheep ever falls over on its back, it will starve to death because it cannot right itself and get up. This world is full of people not just old ones, who have “fallen and can’t get up.”
He saw how the sheep were HOPELESS.
They were “like sheep having no shepherd.” It can be said, without apology, that a person without God is not only lost, he is hopelessly lost. Someone has described a lost person as “a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that is not there.” Can you picture anything more hopeless than that?
When Jesus saw these hurting, helpless, hopeless sheep, these “walking wounded”, the Bible says, “He was moved with compassion.” It has been well said many times, “The world will never care how much we know until they know how much we care..” We will never care for people the way Jesus cared for them, until we see people the way Jesus saw them.”
Too often we don’t have compassion for the lost because we don’t see them as spiritually dead.
I want to say a word about our community. I really believe God has given us a mission field. Our mission is here and now! Someone said missions begins at home, and I believe that too.
As a church we have determined to remain in Center Point while many are chosing to move to what they consider to be more fertile fields. But I believe the harvest is ripe right here. FB-CP has in many respects the greatest mission door open before us. We can change our world beginning at our own doorsteps. Just as we support our AAEO goal for NAM, we must believe in and support our own mission here in CP, by giving faithfully and generously every Lord’s day.
(Finally, please notice the Ministers Jesus sought for People)
III. THE MINISTERS JESUS SOUGHT FOR PEOPLE, Matthew 9:37-38
“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.’”
The harvest is greater now than it has ever been. There are 195 million Americans who have never been born again.
What does the Lord Jesus do? He calls us to prayer. He does not ask us to pray for the lost, He asks us to pray for the laborers. He does not ask us to pray for the harvest, He asks us to pray for the harvesters. He does not ask us to pray for the sheep, He asks us to pray for the Shepherds.
Now as we continue to think about our mission here and now, let me say something about our children. Someone said our children are our future. Not only do I agree with this statement also, I believe it has never been more true for us as a church. Our children are our future. I believe we can make no greater investment as a church than the investment we make in our children and young people.
We do this once again by giving generously to our own church mission in order to offer an attractive and appealing church ministry that will draw younger generations to us. This will call for courage and commitment in days to come.
A part of being a laborer in the harvest is practicing consistently a sacrificial spirit that says I am willing to give whatever it takes for the children of our future. Another commitment we must make is to educating and involving our children in missions, Southern Baptist missions.
A little boy was asked to go somewhere by his dad. His little boy looked at his daddy and said, “I ain’t going.” Well, his dad didn’t like that kind of language, and he said, “Son, you’re not supposed to use the word ‘ain’t’, that is not proper grammar.” He then proceeded to give his son a grammar lesson. He said, “Now listen carefully, first person singular—I am not going; second person singular—you are not going; third person singular—he is not going; first person plural—we are not going; second person plural—you are not going; third person plural—they are not going.” He said, “Now son, do you understand what I’ve told you?” His son said, “Yes sir, it looks like ain’t nobody going.”
Our Mission is Here and it is Now! Thank God that there are many who are going.
Let me share in closing this message some facts about our Mission. ·
There are 195 million Americans who have never been born again.·
Only 1 of 4 Americans consider themselves to be Christians.·
Of the 3,400 counties in America, 489 have no Southern Baptist witness.·
Of the more than 15,000,000 Southern Baptists in America, less than $2.75 per Southern Baptist will be given to NAMB.·
The Annie Armstrong Easter Offering provides 40% of NAMB’s budget needed to reach the lost in North America·
The AAEO supports the work of 5300 North American missionaries.· *
100*% of the AAEO gifts goes to missionaries and their ministries.·
Home missions offerings began in 1895.
Since that time, over one billion dollars has been given to NAMB.·
The 2007 National Goal is $ 57 million.·
Our church goal for 2007 is $ 7,000.00. (Go over additional slides)
v I will seek to give at least $____________ to the AAEO this year!