“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 pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” (Matthew 9:36-38)
The words of Jesus here are perhaps an apt commentary of the state of the people in our world today. Most feel harassed and helpless. The more forceful, the more outspoken, however, seem to think they can control the world and other people through force, violence, shaming, and blaming, while reciting meaningless slogans accompanied by empty diatribes. They are all as Jesus describes here: sheep without a shepherd. They are wandering around without spiritual leadership, subject to the lies and schemes of the devil who has enslaved them all.
The church has a calling from Jesus to be the spiritual shepherd to these lost sheep, to lead them to follow Him, the chief shepherd. We are, after all, his disciples. And what is expected of a disciple of Christ? How is a disciple a physical representative of Jesus? What impact should this have on the life of a Christian? We find some answers to such questions as we read how Jesus commissioned and empowered His disciples to preach the gospel of the Kingdom.
Jesus calls His disciples to a life marked by rejection, misunderstanding, antagonism, persecution, self-denial, self-sacrifice, and servanthood. Jesus calls the disciple to lose his life for the sake of the Kingdom. This does not, necessarily, mean death by martyrdom. That is not the calling of most believers. What is common to every believer, however, is death to individual wants and desires on a daily basis. We ought to pray that we would be willing to surrender ourselves in God’s service so that He, not we, may be exalted as we help those lost and harassed sheep into be the sheepfold of heaven.