“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.””
Jesus has been traveling from town to town preaching and teaching and healing. As a result He had attracted quite a following. But gathering a large crowd was not what mattered to Jesus. People mattered to Jesus. He was overcome with emotion as He looked over the crowd and recognized their plight.
Webster defines plight as “a difficult or precarious situation.” This is what the people were facing without even knowing it. This is what we are facing as well. This is what sheep face everyday and why Jesus chose this metaphor. Jesus recognized that…
Sheep (we) need protection – Not only do we find ourselves exposed to the dangers of this world which are bad enough, but we are also susceptible to the dangers of the supernatural world. Our enemy, the devil, is always on the prowl “looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8). And it is a danger that we are almost completely unaware of. We need protection – whether we know it or not.
Sheep (we) need leadership – Sheep tend to wander without really paying attention to where they’re going – this is not unlike a large percentage of our population. Many people are just wandering through life without any clear direction or purpose. People crave strong leadership – and yet there is such a void of strong, godly leadership in our culture that people have fallen prey to charismatic leaders who are only looking after their own interests, not the interests of the people.
Sheep (we) need green pastures and quiet waters – According to Psalm 23 this is what a good shepherd provides for his sheep. We need food that nourishes and water that refreshes. We need a diet that strengthens and satisfies our soul. We don’t need spiritual pablum. We don’t need a diet that makes us feel good about ourselves we need a diet of Truth that causes us to exult in the greatness of God.
As Jesus perused the crowd and saw their great need He turned to His disciples and challenged them to pray for workers. But inherit in the challenge to pray was also a challenge to go and be one of those workers. Jesus was training His men for a mission. And that mission was incumbent upon recognizing how much people matter to God.