When Jesus saw the multitudes . . .
“He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered (distressed and dispirited – N.A.S.) like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest field.’” (Mt 9:36-38)
Have you ever reflected on this passage?
Look closely. Why was our Lord moved with compassion for the crowds? It was because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. And note this: His concern was not about what they might suffer after they died, but what they were suffering here in this world.
Do you see it? This silences one of the most common complaints raised against our blessed hope: “Why share the Gospel if everyone will be saved in the end?” “Why send missionaries to Africa?”
The fear of death. All people fear it, at least to one degree or another at one time or another. And at some points in human existence, it is suffered terribly, especially as the moment of one’s death approaches.
Now, I ask: Why did Jesus come to earth as a man and live among us?
“He too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death…and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Heb 2:14-15 NIV)
Jesus came to earth to free us all from the fear of death.
The world is full of hurting, anguished people who live their whole lives in fear of death. They need Good News! They need to know that death is not the last word. They need to know that they have a wonderful and amazing God, one who loves them with an everlasting love. They need to know that God became one of us, and suffered horribly to bring us life, peace, and joy; both for this life and in the next. They need to know that they are safe and secure in His loving arms.
I’m going to say something that might seem radical to many believers in Jesus . . .
When I see crowds of people or try to imagine the billions of human beings on earth who are suffering (and everyone suffers at times and to some degree), do you know who my heart goes out to the most?
Christians! Yes, Christians. I am not as burdened for unbelievers as I am for my fellow believers. But let me qualify: I’m referring to Christians tormented by the fear of an eternal hell–which is a large percentage of believers. Most unbelievers however, do not live under such an extreme fear. If they did, they would not be unbelievers, but believers in the Augustinian God of infinite torture. My heart goes out to all hurting people, but especially those tormented by the fear of an angry God–just waiting to torture them forever in hell. They are the ones who are truly distressed and dispirited. They are the ones in greatest need . . . in desperate need of Good News.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is truly good news! And friends, there is no “bad news” in the “good news!”
The words of Paul in Acts 20:24 are my inspiration:
“I do not count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
The unlimited grace of God (1Cor 13:8) is what I am giving my life to proclaim. That is my mission. Will it be yours?
“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things.” (Rom 10:15)
“The message God sent . . . Announcing the Good News of Peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of All.” (Acts 10:36 NIV).”
God is awesome!!!