Sermon – June 28, 2020 – Pentecost 4
Printable PDF: 6-28-2020 Pentecost 4 Sermon
Vicar Jason Lindemann ~ Matthew 9:35-10:8 ~ June 28, 2020 ~ Pentecost 4
35Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” 1Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. 5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
Jesus Takes Good Care of Us
When I would babysit my younger brothers, the last thing my parents would say to me was, “You take care of your brothers.” It’s a good thing they said that, because that was not on the top of my priority list when they would leave. I was racing to the good food in the fridge and leaving them with leftovers, and to the GameCube so that I could play the videogame and they could find something else to do. Since they were my brothers, I didn’t really have any compassion for them. But my parents were trying to teach me to look at them the way they looked at them – as their children on whom they had compassion and of whom they were taking good care. That’s not how I was looking at them at all! But when my parents would say that “you take care of your brothers,” they would make it clear to me that I was to care for them with the compassion they had for them. I didn’t always do the best at that, parents do much better, but Jesus does it the best. Jesus takes good care of us. Jesus has compassion on his people and he gives freely to his people.
- Jesus has compassion on his people. (verses 35-38)
Jesus had compassion on those crowds and recognized their problem. He had a pretty good sample size – all the towns and villages in Galilee! Jesus recognized they all had the same problem. What was it? A good chunk of them had the same problem that Jesus took care of. He healed each and every disease and sickness. Was any of the crowd blind, mute, bleeding, or dead? Jesus healed it all. But that was just part of the crowd that had that problem. Here’s the problem he saw when he looked at the crowds, “They were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus looked at these people and noticed that some were in physical pain, but what ripped his heart out of his chest was their souls. They were in spiritual and emotional pain. Their consciences hurt them; their sins burdened them.
And Jesus’ heart went out to those ‘sheep without a shepherd’. Sheep without a shepherd are in deep trouble. They can’t run fast, have no defensive moves, they don’t know where they’re going, they’re sitting prey for any number of common predators who are hungry to take them down, or they could go running off a cliff. That’s how Jesus saw those crowds. They were sinful, had no way to cover it and were sitting prey for the attacks of the devil and false teachers who were hungry to make them fall into hell.
He had compassion on those sheep without a shepherd. Jesus’ compassion is powerful and personal. His heart sank to his stomach when he saw that crowd. It turned over and over when he saw the trouble his people were in. And he called for action. He didn’t sit there and watch his people suffer. He prayed. And he also invited his disciples to pray. “Disciples, see the crowds? They are like sheep without a shepherd. They are like a harvest with almost no one to bring them in. That’s the Lord’s harvest. Those are the Lord’s people. Pray that he save them!” Jesus’ big heart went out to those lost people; he had compassion on them. Jesus’ compassion called for action. His disciples prayed, and God acted.
Jesus’ compassion isn’t limited to those crowds in all the towns and villages of Galilee. He has compassion on all his people. He has compassion on you. Jesus recognizes that the problem that each of the people in those crowds had is the same problem we have. We also have spiritual and emotional burdens. Without a shepherd, what would we do to fix them? Would you run after someone who promised you happiness and help, only to find out he is a false teacher, a ferocious wolf attacking your soul? Would you run to satisfy the desires of your sinful flesh to try to numb the hurt with any number of vices to fall of the cliff to your doom? Would you run to fend for yourself, only to find out that you are lost in sin?
Jesus recognizes our problem, and his heart goes out to you. You aren’t just another doomed sheep to him. He sees you as his. He has compassion on you because you are his people. When he sees you lost in your sin like sheep without a shepherd, his heart sinks and turns over and over and goes out to you. He sees your pain and he feels it, too.
And he doesn’t just feel sorry for you. Jesus’ compassion led him to save you. Jesus’ compassion led him to the cross. He didn’t want you to be lost in spiritual and emotional pain anymore. He didn’t want to lose you to sin, because he had compassion on you as his people. He went to the cross to suffer your spiritual and emotional pain. He paid the price for your sins. He took the assault of the predators and the danger you were in. He has a big heart for you. He made sure to take good care of you.
Jesus makes it so that we aren’t sheep without a shepherd. He is our shepherd who takes good care of us. He has great compassion on his people. He doesn’t limit his compassion either. He doesn’t stop at being our shepherd. Jesus gives freely to his people.
- Jesus gives freely to his people. (verses 1-8)
Jesus sent apostles to give freely to his people. This is how Jesus chose to take care of those crowds, those lost sheep of Israel. He sent the apostles. 5Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. This was not Jesus giving unwillingly to the Gentiles, but giving freely to the lost sheep of Israel. He had a different way to take good care of the Gentiles. Here’s the roster of the real people to whom Jesus gave his authority to take good care of the people of Israel. It was not a random assignment. Jesus sent them to the lost sheep of Israel because the disciples knew those people. These were their family and neighbors whom they saw every day. Jesus didn’t send them randomly. He sent them to give freely to those people whom they already knew.
He sent them to preach the gospel and to spread his compassion on his people. 7As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
Jesus sent them to freely give what they freely received from him, which is the Gospel. Those apostles weren’t miraculously healed by Jesus physically, but they were once lost sheep who were freely given the Gospel that they learned from Jesus. This was what they were to give freely to God’s people in Israel. They were to spread his compassion by the forgiveness of sins. And yes, also spread his compassion in other ways – healing, raising, cleansing, driving out demons – but this was not their focus. Jesus takes too good of care of them for physical healing to be the main thing to share. “The kingdom of heaven is near, Jesus is here! He has come to save you.” What a beautiful message that Jesus freely gives to his people.
Jesus also sends you to give freely to his people. He doesn’t send you to the lost sheep of Israel. He has a different way of taking care of them. He takes good care of his people here, the Gentiles, by giving freely to you to give freely to them. Like I read the list of apostles, I could read out of our directory to see the roster of the real people that Jesus has given authority to give the forgiveness of sins to people. He sends you to the lost sheep of your family and neighbors. Jesus gives freely to the lost sheep of Glendale by sending you.
He doesn’t send you to heal diseases or cast out demons. He doesn’t even send you to preach long sermons. He sends you to spread his compassion. He invites you to see people like he does, as people who belong to Jesus. He sends you as a gift to give the gift of the gospel, because you were given the same gift of the Gospel. This is the Gospel – a free gift for all. He freely gave himself to his people to take away the sins of the world. He gave you that gift. You have the gift to give freely to others just as you got it. And just as you didn’t receive it by getting it forced down your throats, neither do you do that. You don’t have to, there’s no certain way to do it. But Jesus invites you to freely spread his compassion. So you show acts of goodness, words of kindness, and pray for your family and neighbors to reflect Jesus’ compassion with the message about the one who takes good care of you.
Jesus is our best caretaker. He has the compassion for his people to do it. His heart goes out to the ones who are suffering, and he helps them. He gives freely to his people and teaches his people to give freely as well. This all reflects that Jesus takes good care of us, and will take good care of us forever. Amen.