Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:35-8
When the Lord speaks of harvest what comes to my mind is something that is done or has come to fruition. I’m not going to harvest a wheat field until it is finished producing wheat. That would be a complete waste. Yet, prior to this, Lord Jesus perception of the crowds is they ” . . . were harassed and helpless . . .” They hardly sound like a people who are done or complete. Yet, Christ viewed them as ripe for harvesting. Why might that be?
This doneness and ready for harvesting referred to by Lord Jesus could be about putting an end to the law, but when understood correctly and with the right spirit the law could provide joy and counsel, as it did for the Psalmists, and even be fulfilled as Lord Jesus did. Besides, Lord Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to write it on our hearts. What if the law was capricious? What if the world just randomly made up rules and laws based on their own whims?
This is what the world does, whether it be worldly Pharisees teaching people to follow the traditions of men (Mk 7:8) or the secular world ruling by its own passions which produces laws (whether they be social or legislative) that have neither rhyme nor reason. You must have this type of house or car, be this thin, set this type of table, have this type of job, believe this about the unborn and marriage, tithe mint and anise, and forget about justice and mercy (Mt 23:23). There are no underlying principles to guide all of this, but only what someone has decided is to be. The result is people always trying to live up to these bizarre (just look at women’s fashion through history) expectations that are not written anywhere and can be changed on a whim. Who wouldn’t be “helpless and harassed” trying to live under such a rule? It would be like trying to run a race where the finish line keeps getting moved. (Compare this to the orderliness of natural law where there is reason and consistency.)
Woe to the person who will not or cannot meet these demands because the “world” is a cruel master. There is no grace and mercy, no comforter to tell them what they are doing wrong, no virtue or reason to guide them, no redemption of suffering, and no one to lead them into truth. No, when the arbitrary expectations of the world are broken there is nothing but being reviled, shamed and ridiculed: a spiritual crucifixion that can and does lead to spiritual wounding, diseased souls, and even real death through suicide. So what do I think the Jewish people were done with? I think they were done with the world and ready for a change.
“I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” John 16:33
Image provided by someone who uses Asian characters to sign their name @Unsplash