Lesson 169, January 13, 2019
Lesson Title: “Farmhands”
Lesson Goal: To gain a better understanding of our compassion for the lost and our opportunity to share the love and message of Jesus Christ.
Introduction: Following the response of unbelief by the vast majority of His hometown (Nazareth) and His own brothers and sisters, Jesus departs from Nazareth amazed by their lack of faith.
“We can never be too much on our guard against unbelief. Let us watch our own hearts carefully in the matter of unbelief. The heart, and not the head, is the seat of its mysterious power. It is neither the lack of evidence nor the difficulties of Christian doctrine that make people unbelievers. It is lack of will to believe. They love sin. They are wedded to the world. In this state of mind they never lack specious (false look of truth or genu- ineness) reasons to confirm their will. The humble, childlike heart is the heart that believes. Let us go on watching our heart, even after we have believed. The root of unbelief is never entirely destroyed. We have only to leave off watching and praying and a rank crop of unbelief will soon spring up. No prayer is so im- portant as that of the disciples, ‘Lord increase our faith’.” J. C. Ryle
“Again Jesus tasted the loneliness of being misunderstood and slighted. Many of His followers have shared this sorrow. Undaunted by His rejection in Nazareth, the Lord went about the surrounding villages, teaching the word.” William MacDonald
Jesus leaves Nazareth taking His mission and message to other towns and villages.
(v35) “Teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the Kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” Jesus found the synagogues to be a natural gathering place. There He would meet the people who came to worship. He would use the synagogue as a place to teach and preach. Jesus’ ministry as stated in this passage was a three fold ministry His ministry is described in terms of teaching, preaching, and healing.
(v36) “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep have no shepherd.”
As Jesus went from place to place He would find himself sometimes off the beaten path in obscure and poor villages. At other times His steps would lead to urban areas crowded with great numbers of people. Jesus, along with His disciples, traveled place to place. He went to the out of the way places where sheep and cows, farms and fields were a way of life. From the roads of the less traveled His path would take Him to the central hubs of government, finance, academics, art, religion, and crime. The fact of Jesus’ travels help us to under- stand the words of John Phillips “Nobody was too sophisticated for Jesus; nobody was too parochial. He was just a much at home with the cultured and educated Nicodemus as He was with outcast Zacchaeus. The Lord visited the home of Simon the leper as willingly as He visited the home of Simon the Pharisee and that of Si- mon Peter. All men were equally on His heart.”
Question: Can John Phillips’ words as they applied to Jesus, also be applied to our hearts? “All men were equally on His heart.”
Question: Do we have a heart for all those around us?
Question: Do we have a heart for all those in the crowd?
(v36) “He was moved with compassion for them.” Compassion-tenderness, hurting along side of, feeling along side of.
Question: What does it mean to have compassion?
Question: What does it mean to show compassion?
Question: Jesus was “moved with compassion!” What does it mean to be “moved with compassion?”
(v36) “because they were weary, and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd”
“Weary” literally “fainted.” The word also can be rendered “were harassed.” The word denotes a habitual condition. “Scattered”-helpless, hopeless, defenseless, isolated, perils.
“like sheep having no shepherd” They were many religious leaders who thought of themselves as providing guidance to the people. Many would claim to be religious guides but Jesus saw the people like sheep without a shepherd. The sheep were living among predators and those that disguised themselves to appear, look and sound like caring shepherds.
Questions: How can you determine if a shepherd is real? Is it possible that spiritual shepherds may look, sound, and act like shepherds but not have the sheep’s best interest at heart?
In the words of Craig Blomberg, “”Verse 36 provides a stinging rebuke to the Pharisees, Scribes, and Saddu- cees.”
(v37) “Then He said to His disciples, the harvest truly is plentiful but the laborers are few.”
Jesus takes these moments as teaching moments to His disciples. Jesus shifts the imagery from flock to field. Jesus now offers the word picture of a field ready and ripe for harvest.
Personal Testimony-I often have people talk with me about “the direction our world is headed.” I certainly understand their concern and I do not take lightly their dismay. But I usually try to respond somewhere in the conversation that “it is a great time to be the church.” Needless to say I have often received puzzled looks and confused faces at my comments. I then go on to explain what greater time to be the Lord’s church than the days and times in which we live. The opportunities and blessings of sharing the gospel (the Good News of Je- sus Christ) have never been more needed and important than today. No doubt we see all around us “the signs of the times” but again what an opportunity! People truly need the Lord!
I recently read a short and shallow excerpt from a PhD Old Testament modern day Scholar and Professor that was basically ridiculing (making fun of ) Southern evangelicals for wanting to “tell people about the Lord.” With great intellectual and scholarly appeal, he was offering a defense for his children not to be harassed by such petty thinking and foolish ideology as someone “telling them about the Lord.”
Question: What is the greatest news anyone can share?
Question: What is the greatest news anyone can hear?
The day in which we live “today” is a day of good news, the greatest new-Jesus Saves, Jesus
One of my favorite and most blessed moments of worship is when Bro. Robin and the choir lead us in “Jesus Saves!” No greater good news will ever sound forth from these buildings than the glorious truth —Jesus Saves!!
(v37) “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”
Jesus is stating a fact by using the picture (imagery) of a ripen field. Jesus is instructing His disciples that the harvest is ready. He just needs some farmhands willing to get out in the fields.
(v38) “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Question: What is a laborer?
In the Scriptures the “harvest” is a time of gathering but it is also seen so many times referring to God’s judg- ment. Jesus had compassion for the people because He understood their lostness. He felt for their desperation and hopelessness. He knew one day they would face the harvest judgment.
You and I have been given the great blessing of Jesus’ mandate to get out into the field for they are indeed ripe and ready.
The harvest is ready, Jesus just needs some “Farmhands.”