I’m a fixer by trade. It began with a few mechanical things around the house. I graduated to the electronics of old radios, TVs, and VCRs. I eventually tried to make that into a business and learned that I’m not a businessman. I then got hired to fix copy machines and eventually computers and computer networks. Two realizations came out of that. Fixing things is often providing a solution to a problem instead of just repairing something. The other is that sometimes the customer needs repair than the device. But there is another piece of the puzzle needed to be good at fixing things; understanding and responding to the urgency of the need.
Understanding the urgency and doing something about it is the root of today’s Jesus Says command. Matthew records that one day Jesus was ministering to the crowds. Healing the sick, proclaiming the Good News of God’s Kingdom. But the crowds were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Turning to his disciples he said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”” (Matthew 9:35–38, NIV) The command is “ask”.
The English translation loses a bit of the emphasis. This is “ask” is with urgency like pleading for someone to open their home to a stranger on a cold winter evening. The urgency of the need is reflected in the urgency of our “asks.”
But notice something. Jesus is commanding us to ask for others, to look beyond our need and look to the need of the harvest field around us. It’s not wrong to pray for ourselves, but it is wrong to only pray for ourselves. For this “ask” we need our eyes opened to see others as Jesus does. We need pliable hearts to move with compassion as He was/is moved.
Jesus was also specific – send workers. We don’t need programs as much as we need willing and open hearts. We don’t need Government aide as much as we need folks that move according to the winds of the Holy Spirit. We don’t need fences to keep people from hurting each other as much as we need shepherds that can lead. Jesus implores us to pray with urgency for workers to enter the field. I wonder though if there isn’t an implied desire that those praying would also become those very same workers.
There’s a scene in the early parts of the Old Testament book of Isaiah. “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord,” Isaiah writes. God from his throne calls out “who will take this message?” Isaiah in his weakness cries out, “here I am, send me.” In my view, our prayer for workers should include the “ask” to “send me.”
Does this mean that we should all pick up and move to some foreign soil? No, although some may be asked to do so. The harvest fields are all around us, we just need eyes to see and a heart to move. You could be the God’s answer to someone’s urgent prayer of concern. Therefore, the response to this Jesus says command is to urgently pray for others, for the lost, hopeless, harassed, and helpless, and to also cry out “send me!”
Jesus says ask for workers.