Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 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 went to the towns and to the villages, that’s what proclaimers do. He went to “their synagogues”. Jesus did not have a temple complex of his own that was the centre of his ministry, he went to theirs instead. Now, think about how churches operate these days. A very typical paradigm is that the group has a building which is the base of operations, and people come from near and far to attend events there. And then every few years they might start another one in another town. You come to us, not we go to you. You come to our space, not we come to yours. It’s quite a different picture of ministry, is it not.

Imagine the village conversation after Jesus left town. “What did you think of that then?” Mary asks her friend Hannah. “Lot better than normal synagogue, and my husband John’s arthritis has just disappeared. I hope he’s coming back soon.”

Harassed and Helpless
Jesus’ message of good news was like music to the ears of the “harassed and helpless”. His gospel met their need, so hence the interest of the crowds that formed. No doubt there was a lot of plain old curiosity that swelled the numbers, the level of competition for interesting goings-on in regional first century Galilee villages not being that high. Nevertheless, the people came – in their droves.

Jesus modelled compassion. He acted on comprehension of needs. He didn’t see the people as a heaving unwell crowd so much as a bewildered, stumbling mass of confused directionless sheep. The text says Jesus had compassion on them after having healed their every disease and sickness. Jesus saw a deeper need. There should be shepherds here. Jesus’ compassion was connected with the subsequent acts of solving the harvest field worker shortage problem. This was not a one-man job anymore.


This is a transition point for Jesus. It’s time for the next phase. Others need to learn how to do this. Time to get the disciples involved. “Disciples – can you see the harvest field? Do you see the need? Pray for workers. Pray for yourselves”- Jesus is saying.


So, Kingdom. The good news is the good news of the kingdom. The good news that is about the Kingdom or the good news that belongs to and is rooted in the kingdom? When you understand what the Kingdom is all about you can hear the good news that goes along with it. And in this case, part of that good news is that Jesus wants to provide great shepherds to take care of his sheep. You’ll know you are seeing the kingdom of Jesus when you see good shepherds looking after Jesus’ sheep.

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