Nothing stirs a farm into activity like harvest time. Once the crops are ready to be picked, they need to be picked immediately. Delay will make them over-ripe and worthless. During harvest time, everyone in the family, friends, and neighbors work hard to bring the crops in. The farmer will even drag people in off the streets if they need to. And, when his crops are harvested, the farmer will branch out and help his neighbors. The harvest demands the time and attention of anyone connected with the farmer.
As Jesus traveled from town to town He was besieged by hurting people who wanted healing and to hear the message of the Kingdom of God. Physically, Jesus must have been exhausted. He kept going because the people were helpless. They couldn’t turn to the religious leaders who had no compassion. The Romans surely wouldn’t be willing to help the Jews that the religious leaders ignored. When Jesus came and cared for them, that glimmer of hope caused all the hurting people of any town to seek Him out. Jesus looked at the crowds with love and compassion. “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.’” (Matthew 9:37-38)
Some people are easy to overlook. They hide in the shadows. You see them on the streets and when you seek to smile and greet them, the respond with a hello and then avert their eyes, lest they impose on you in any way. So, we walk on past and think that they must be pretty rude for not engaging with us, never thinking that people like this are those whom Jesus saw as “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (v. 36) When Jesus looked at people I think He saw two types. One group included the leaders and powerful people who were going to change the world. The other group of people were those overlooked by everyone else who needed their world changed. These were the people Jesus sought. These were the people who drained His energy by flocking to Him as they sensed His concern and gained hope. These were the people that Jesus was thinking of when He urged His disciples to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers.
These are the people we see every day. They may be walking on the sidewalks. They may be holding signs on the street corners asking for money. They may be flocking to the Emergency Rooms or free clinics to get medical care. They may be those kids in school who don’t have a pencil – for the fiftieth time this year! How often did I look in anger at the kids who didn’t have their supplies when I should have shown compassion? How often do I look down on those seeking medical help when they have no money to pay for it? How often do I look away from those people with the signs on the streets fearing that they might think I have something for them? They might come and try to talk with me. They might demand money. Even worse, they might touch me. We are powerful. We are going to change the world. We seek out other people who are going to change the world. In our great dreams and aspirations, though, we overlook the very people who need their world changed. There are so many. It is time not only to pray that the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers into the harvest field, it is time to be one of the answers to our own prayers.
Oh Lord, open my eyes to the needs of people around me. Remind me that even though I can’t meet every need, I can show Your love and compassion to those who are harassed and helpless in our world today. Change my world so that I will be willing to change the world of people in need.