Why Do We Need Revival? (Matthew 9:35-38)March 19, 2023 | Meritt Raup
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Amen. Well, good morning, everyone. It’s great to be with you today as we continue the series on Revival. And so I’d like to invite you to turn to Matthew chapter nine, we’re going to be looking at verses 35 through 38. If you’re using one of the Pew Bibles, you can find this on page 790. Well, something I like to do in my free time is watch documentaries. And some of them My favorites are documentaries about nature. And one of the most popular nature documentary series. It’s called Planet Earth. There’s a particular scene from one episode that maybe you’ve seen before. It’s been viewed 10s of millions of times by people everywhere, and it was filmed on a remote island on this beach, where a certain type of iguana lays its eggs. The gardens lay their eggs, and then they keep watch from the safety of a nearby cliff. When the baby iguanas hatch from their eggs, they face one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever seen. Snakes. Yes, snakes. I know some people like snakes. If that’s you, that’s okay. But that’s not me. I think I think there’s a reason why Satan took the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden. But that’s a conversation for another time. But anyway, so the snakes they know that these baby iguanas are hatching on this beach during this certain time. So naturally, they want an easy meal. And this scene from this one episode focuses on one baby iguana that just hatched. And he’s standing there, he’s on the beach, his first moments of life. And he’s frozen still, because there’s snakes crawling around him. He doesn’t want to be detected by them. But soon, he gets discovered by a snake. And he takes off running to escape. And you see his little legs are just flying through the air. And it’s quite remarkable. Except when he starts running, this immediately gets the attention of every single snake on that beach. And so you see, literally dozens of snakes pouring out of the rocks chasing this one baby iguana.
It’s quite horrifying. So you start rooting for this baby iguana. Like, your heart goes out to him. Like, come on, little guy, you can do it. He looks like he is doing it. Until he gets struck by a lunch from a serpent. And he goes down. And you just see a pile of snakes engulfing this little baby iguana. All hope is lost. The little guy’s gone. Until you see a little arm poke out. And then and then you see his leg. And then you see his head, like can this be the baby, you go on? He squirms away from the snakes. Somehow, remarkably, he does it. And he continues sprinting up the side of the cliff. He jumps over boulders while more snakes are lunging and missing. And finally he makes it to the top and is reunited with his parents. He lives to fight another day. The crowd goes wild. Almost as exciting as March Madness, isn’t it? It’s it’s a roller coaster of emotion. Who knew we could get so emotionally invested in a baby iguana. So why do I share this with you? See, from the very beginning, you feel for this baby iguana. Your pulse it rises and your heart just swells up within you for this little guy. Because that baby’s going to face a dire situation. Here’s the point we ought to see our need for revival as just as dire as situation. Brothers and sisters, if we want to see the kind of revival that we’ve been praying for, we must feel the the need the weight and the urgency of the situation. Last week, we started the series by asking what is revival? We saw that revival is not when God does something altogether different. But when he does what he always does, but in an extraordinary measure. God loves to give life and we want him to do the same for us today. We want him to revive us, so that we experienced this new life in a deeper way. We want him to bring a dead people to life for the very first time. We see we saw that God does this through a renewed commitment to the normal things. That confession of sin preaching the gospel, repentance, praying passionately. So today we’re going to try to answer the question, why do we need revival? Why do we need revival? So here’s the main idea for today we need revival because the situation is dire. We need revival because the situation is dire. We see this in our passage in Matthew 935 38. So would you read along with me, says this, says 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. When he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful. But the workers are few asked the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. So what makes this situation so dire? First, there is a great need. There’s a great need. See Jesus is he’s traveling around the region of Galilee. He’s doing ministry, he’s teaching in the synagogues. He’s preaching the gospel, he’s healing the sick. So we see this great need in the people that he ministers to these great crowds that followed him around. There’s a powerful picture here that’s given to us that describes this need. He says people are like sheep, without a shepherd. This is a tragic situation. To be a sheep without a shepherd was a dire situation. Because sheep are entirely dependent on their shepherd. Sheep are not smart animals. They get frightened easily. They’re constantly anxious. They’re stubborn, they don’t know how to find food, they have no defense against predators. The Shepherd does everything for the sheep. The shepherd feeds them, protects them, leads them, cares for them. without a shepherd, the sheep have no hope. There’s three elements here to this image that are described in this passage for us what it’s like to be a sheep without a shepherd. Each of these unconvinced is directly applicable to us today. And each of them shows us our great need for revival. The first thing we see is that a sheep without a shepherd is hurting. See, Jesus is going around Galilee, he’s healing every kind of disease in sickness. This is significant, because back then even a common cold could turn into something much worse. The impact of this hurting was ever present in their day. They didn’t have the same modern medicine that we do. Many times throughout Jesus’s ministry we see desperately hurting people coming to him and basically throwing themselves in front of Jesus saying, Jesus, please heal me. You’re my only hope. I have no other options here. And it’s the same with the sheep. Whether they twisted an ankle, got stuck in a thorn bush, were wounded by a predator. We got sick from drinking some bad water. Sheep would often find themselves injured. without a shepherd, the sheep would not recover. Let’s just strikingly similar to our day, the people are like sheep without a shepherd. People are hurting. Just because we live in a world with modern medicine doesn’t mean that we don’t also feel the tremendous hurt caused by disease and sickness. I know many of you in this room are personally facing this same hurt right now. Whether in your own life or the life of a loved one. Maybe hurt isn’t even a strong enough word to describe your situation right now. So we want to weep with you. We want to we want to support you. We want to pray with you and for you. The reality is many people in our community face this same hurt every single day. Except they face it apart from Christ. All alone except they don’t have any lasting peace. no purpose, no community, no hope in the midst of their hurting
All the while they’re hurt is ever present every single day. See, this physical hurt is real, both in Jesus’s day. And in our day. Can you see a need for revival in our world? Without wanting to downplay this physical hurt at all, it’s very real. We also need to consider the spiritual hurt. That’s so prevalent in our world, as well. Think about the people in our community, without Christ are not believers. There’s no doubt that they face tremendous spiritual hurt, even if they might not fully understand it as that. Now where do they go when life feels meaningless? Where do they go when they have questions that no one can answer? Where do they go when they’ve been hurt by the church or other Christians? Where do they go when they feel the weight of the burdens of the guilt and the shame of their past? Where do they go when they have these existential longings that nothing seems to satisfy? Where do they go when they have a deep desire to be loved, but only experience rejection or even abuse? Where do they go when they are afraid of death and judgment? To just listen to the way people talk, hear their stories, ask good questions. And you’ll see that these kinds of questions are all over the place. This spiritual hurting comes up everywhere. The spiritual hurt is real in our community. Can you see the need for revival? There’s a lot of hurting people, for so many reasons. But this is only the beginning of this great need that we have. These sheep without a shepherd are not only hurting, but they’re also harassed, also harassed. See, Jesus looks out on the crowds, and he sees that they’re being harassed. You know, sheep are often harassed by gnats, or flies, mosquitoes biting at the exposed skin of their faces. We all know what that is like, right? On a summer night when the mosquitoes are flying around your head and you hear the buzzing, but you have no idea where it’s at. And so you’re just flailing at the air trying to get it away. That’s the harassment that the sheep face. In the case of these crowds, it was the Pharisees and the religious leaders, they’re imposing an extra biblical standard that was overbearing. The pressure exerted on these crowds was a social pressure and emotional pressure, a moral pressure, but most significantly, a spiritual pressure. You know, I picture a student, harassed by the always changing fashion standards trying to fit in. Even the student who is physically harassed to the point of bullying. The student who always feels the pressure to do the thing that will get them included with the in crowd. I think of the societal pressures to celebrate certain ideologies as the way to salvation. Or looking for salvation in social change, or the public sphere. The many voices that fight for our attention and our loyalty, the constant messaging we receive, we don’t need to look far before we see that people are harassed everywhere. This has been going on ever since Satan, that terrible serpent tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. Can you see the need for revival? People are harassed. But even this isn’t the end of our great need. Third, we see that sheep without a shepherd are helpless. These crowds are not only hurting in harassed, but they’re also powerless to fix it. You know, this word helpless. It carries the connotation of being cast down or thrown aside. And Philip Keller has been so helpful for me in understanding how this relates to sheep. Philip Keller spent many years as a shepherd in eastern Africa. So he he writes about how sheep will sometimes become cast down is the phrase they use. See when a sheep when their wool grows thick, maybe they’re maybe they’re a little overweight, and they lay down and sheep are prone to rolling Oh, over onto their back, when they get heavy and the wool is thick, because of their body proportions and their legs, they can’t flip themselves back over. It’s quite funny to think about for a second, when you imagine that image of a sheep just laying on the ground with its arms and legs up in the air, nothing they can do, until you realize how helpless they actually are in that situation. If a sheep stays cast down for too long, with no one there to flip them back over, they’ll eventually die. So this isn’t too far removed from the situation, that many people in our community face every day, apart from Christ, to be powerless to change the hurting or the harassment that you’re experiencing. Even if we want to, there’s no guarantee we’re going to see the situation resolved. Now we might have some power over our immediate circumstances, we can go to the doctor, we can deal with the harassment for a little while. But there’s no certainty that we will see everything resolved. And this isn’t even considering the biggest issues of our world. What can one person do to eradicate human trafficking? What can we possibly do to get rid of hunger and poverty, when so much seems to be fighting against us? Even this is just a surface level helplessness, compared to the helplessness we faced before God, apart from Christ, can we do anything to earn God’s favor? Can we do anything to free ourselves from the chains of our sin? We look up to the mountains. Where does our help come from? Our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. Otherwise, we stand helpless. Just like these crowds, just like so many people in our community. Can you see the great need for revival? Can you see the dire situation people face every single day? See, the image here is of a wounded sheep. Stuck in a thorn bush laying on its back, all alone, with wolves howling in the distance. It’s a dire situation. And it’s meant to show us the great spiritual need that people face. See, those of us who belong to Christ, we need to feel this. We need to be revived to it again. Because this is what we once were. This used to be us. Before Christ was our shepherd. Before him, we were like sheep without a shepherd. Those in our lives who don’t belong to Christ need to feel this and be revived for the first time. This is why we need revival. While the situation is dire. There is a great need. There’s not only a great need. There’s also a great compassion, a great compassion. In verse 36, it says that Jesus saw the crowds. He wasn’t oblivious to their need. He saw the people, he saw them. And it says when he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them. Jesus has compassion on these people. Now this word for compassion is an interesting word because it literally refers to a person’s guts, their innards, their bowels. It was meant to capture the the innermost being of a person their deepest affections. You know, when you get a pit in your stomach, and you’re moved with compassion towards someone. As a church we we partner with and support caring network. So a credible ministry that does awesome work caring for women who face unplanned pregnancies. If you ever watched one of their video testimonies, you know this feeling when you hear a young woman share her story, the desperation that she faced and you’ll learn about how she came to one of these clinics and she was supported. She was cared for. She was loved. She heard about Jesus. And then in the end, she she chose life for her baby instead of an abortion. And you watch those videos and you can hardly get through them without tearing up. Because you feel for her, you have compassion towards her. And this is the kind of compassion that Jesus is feeling towards those crowds.
He feels this way because he knows that they are in a dire situation. This word for compassion is, it’s only using the Bible to describe Jesus, or used by Jesus Himself. This is much more than a human sympathy, or a shallow type of pity. It’s a divine compassion, of a creator looking out to his creation, with a tender care. He sees their need, and he can’t help but be moved with the deepest compassion. And it’s precisely because of this need, in this compassion that Jesus takes action. You know, I had a professor in, in college, who, on the first day of class, he was telling us about how we needed to make sure we turn in our homework assignments on time. And it wasn’t something that we could procrastinate and do last minute, we can just throw it together. So we’re going to have to make a plan and stick to it if we’re going to be successful in this class. And he tells us this, and then he says that there’s an important life lesson here. And he said, quote, we all know that the Bible says God helps those who help themselves, and quote, and it took everything in me not to stand up and say, the Bible doesn’t say that. To God doesn’t help those who help themselves. God helps those who can’t help themselves. That’s the very point of Jesus’s compassion here. He looks out and he sees this great need. He sees people who are hurting, harassed, and helpless. And in his innermost being, he feels compassion towards them. He says, those are the people that I want to be with. Those are the people that I want to help. So the question is, do we have the same compassion towards those people? Does your heart go out to someone, when you see them hurting, harassed, or helpless? Or do you say to yourself, I’ll help once they show me that they can help themselves. See, we must be filled with the same compassion that Jesus has. If we want to see revival, we must feel the same way towards people in need. Because the compassion of Jesus in the mission of Jesus are inseparable. We can’t have one without the other. Our mission must be fueled by a deep understanding of Christ’s compassion towards these people. John Stott he puts it this way, I think it’s so helpful. He says, The mission of Jesus was a mission of compassion. The words mission, and compassion should always be bracketed, indeed, almost hyphenated. So closely, do they belong to one another? What arouse His compassion was always human need, and whatever form he encountered it and out of compassion for people in need, he acted. We need revival. Because the compassion of Jesus is still here today. For those sheep without a shepherd. Jesus has this compassion because he knows he is the Good Shepherd. Jesus is the good shepherd that these people need. He says in John chapter 1014, and 15, he says, I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep. And My sheep know me. Just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. To Jesus can give the shepherd list sheep, what they truly need, he can be their shepherd. Jesus knows the sheep. He calls them by name. He has a relationship with each of them. He’s so intimately cares for them. And his sheep know him. What an incredible statement. This is, he says, Just as the Father knows Jesus, and Jesus knows the father. That’s the relationship between Jesus and His sheep. But even more than this, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. And we see this this shepherding language all throughout the Bible, but perhaps the most famous passage is Psalm 23. You’ve already heard it so far, a couple of times this morning. Maybe you’ve memorized it. This is probably A familiar passage to you. So I’m going to read Psalm 23 again, and I want all of us to listen closely. Listen to this rich description of all that is yours. If you are in Jesus Christ, if Jesus is your good shepherd, this is true of you. Psalm 23. The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his namesake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You annoy my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Isn’t that wonderful? Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He provides for us. He makes us lie down in safety. He refreshes us, He guides us. He removes our fear. He comforts us. He prepares a table for us. He anoints us with oil. He makes our cup overflow. In his goodness in his mercy will follow us all the days of our lives. And we will dwell in His house forever. Does that encourage you? I hope it does. This is yours if Jesus is your good shepherd. So if you’re listening, you don’t know Jesus today. You feel harassed or helpless. You would say Jesus is not my good shepherd right now. Know that this can be yours. If you come to Jesus, He will make this yours. You don’t need to help yourself before you come. That’s the whole point of the gospel. We were powerless to do anything. Our sin was too great. But Jesus laid down his life for the sheep. We can experience this when we have faith in him. So I hope that you would consider that today. See, we need revival. Because this compassion of Jesus is too great to keep to ourselves. So we’ve seen that there’s a great need. There’s a great compassion. And this naturally leads us to our final point. There is a great opportunity. This is what’s been implied all along. But just in case we haven’t seen it yet. Jesus makes it clear to his disciples. Verse 37, he says the harvest is plentiful. The harvest is plentiful. Oh, this is this is not something that only affects a select few. The crowds following Jesus were large crowds. Now even though we we don’t have the crowds storming down our doors to find Jesus today. Our crowd is large to think of how many people are in this room right now in our church. Try and count them up in your mind. And then think now of all the other Bible believing faithful churches in Elmhurst in our surrounding community, could probably count them on two hands. Think of all the people in those churches right now this morning. Then compare that to the total number of people in Elmhurst and the surrounding community. makes us feel kind of small in here, doesn’t it? Considering everybody out there. You know, when the the city New Project began, we did some research to better understand our community and the demographics here. We discovered that the people who are regularly attending a Bible believing faithful church was a certain number. Think of that number in your mind. What would you say it might be? The number we found was that those people were about 11%. So that means 89% of people in our immediate community here are not hearing about the good news of Jesus. They’re going through life like sheep without a shepherd Nine in 10.
So we lament this tragic reality. But we also see it as a great opportunity. The harvest is plentiful. It’s all around us. But the harvest is also here. It’s harvest time. Jesus continues, he says the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few asked the Lord of the harvest, therefore to send out workers into his harvest field. Jesus saying, look, it’s harvest time. Come on everyone, like the grains ready. It’s time to go picking. But where are the harvesters? Where are the workers who are going to bring in this plentiful crop? It’d be tragic. If the grain were to sit in the fields and go bad. Since no one was there to pick it. It’s the same with people in our lives today. Some people are ready for harvest. They feel the the weight of their great need. Except no one is there to share the compassion of Jesus with them. When they face that crisis, why would we let the harvest go to waste? In John chapter four, right after Jesus talks with the Samaritan woman at the well, you know that story he, he teaches His disciples an important point. Remember, the disciples leave Jesus, they go into town to get to get some food for lunch. And Jesus meets this woman at the well around noon. She shouldn’t have been there at that time. And he had an incredible evangelistic conversation with her. He shared the gospel with her and she believes she came to salvation. And as she’s leaving to go back into town to tell everyone what just happened, his disciples are returning. And Jesus says, Look, well, you guys were in town worried about lunch. You just missed an opportunity here. He says in John chapter four, verse 35, he says, Don’t you have a saying it’s four months until harvest. I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest. In other words, you all spend so much time worrying about what you’re going to eat for lunch, that you miss this opportunity that was right in front of you, like open your eyes, like look around. It was right here, you missed it. It’s harvest time. At this point, there should be names and faces in your mind. You should be thinking of specific people in your life. Who in your life doesn’t know Jesus and is hurting, harassed, or helpless? We no longer want to think of revival as a a general thing that happens out there. We want to see actual people, people that Jesus has compassion towards. And we want to see the opportunity that’s right in front of us. We don’t need to look far. We all have those neighbors, friends, family, coworkers, we can all think of those people. We must have this missional mindset because the fields are ripe. So let’s not be so worried about what we’re gonna eat for lunch in about 30 minutes or so. And miss the opportunity that could be right in front of us. But maybe you’re thinking of a certain person in your mind. Someone who’s not a believer, it seems like they’re doing fine right now. Doesn’t feel like an urgent opportunity. They don’t seem hurt, harassed or helpless on the surface. Well, it may be true that they will seem fine for a little while. But the reality is, they might be like a rotting tree. A tree that looks good on the outside, the bark is strong. The leaves are green, still standing. But deep down. They’re slowly being eaten away by something from the inside out. Over time, they’re getting weaker and weaker. So one day, that storm comes. The wind blows, the lightning strikes and it all comes crashing down. Are you going to be there for them in that moment? Who’s going to show them the compassion of Jesus when they need it most? Wouldn’t it be better for them to know about the camp Hashem Jesus before the lightning strikes. You know, the reality is we don’t really know how God will use us. Sometimes we might be planting seeds. Sometimes we might be watering those seeds. Other times we might be harvesting the fruit of that. For some people, it takes a long time, a lot of extra prayer. For other people might not come, the first conversation, but it could come the second conversation. We just don’t know. So we must be faithful harvesters. In Galatians, six, verse nine offers a great encouragement here says, Let us not become weary in doing good for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. See the harvest is plentiful. And the harvest is here. Let’s persevere. Because in time we’ll we will see some harvest. It may not come in the way we expected, it might not come in the timing that we expected it. But if we believe that Jesus is the Lord of the harvest, we believe that it will come. He will do it. There’s a great opportunity for revival. There’s a great need. There’s a great compassion. So therefore Let’s seize the opportunity. Now each week in the series, we have a final takeaway. And each week, this takeaway starts with the letter i Easy to remember. Last week, our takeaway was to intercede, to pray for revival. That’s what we’ve been doing downstairs. That’s what we want to keep doing. We want to pray that the Lord would stir our hearts to one revival, and give us boldness to pursue it. Well, this week, our takeaway is to identify, identify, whenever never stop praying. But as we pray, we look around who in my life is hurting, harassed or helpless? Who in my life is like a sheep without a shepherd, who in my life needs to experience this compassion of Jesus. As we saw, the harvest is plentiful. And the harvest is here. Now at this point, names and faces should already be in your mind. We no longer want to think of revival generally. We want to have these specific people identified so that we can then take action. We want these people to experience the compassion of Jesus. Because the mission of Jesus and the compassion of Jesus go hand in hand. We shouldn’t be thinking especially towards Easter, there’s only a few weeks left. This is a great opportunity to introduce someone to Jesus during this season. We anticipate this room full of new faces, eager to encounter Jesus. So now is the time to identify those people. Let’s continue to pursue revival because the situation is dire. Would you pray with me? Heavenly Father, we want to come to you this morning and we want to praise You. For You are our good shepherd. We thank you for the compassion that you have shown us. How you lead us, you protect us. You feed us and care for us. You give us everything we need. Without you. We have nothing. So we thank you for that. We pray that as we consider this reality, that you would stir in our hearts, the same type of compassion that you have towards people who are like sheep without a shepherd. Give us this compassion and give us this boldness help us to identify those people in our lives who need this. Help us continue to pray passionately as we pursue revival. We know this is not something that we can produce on our own, but only something that you can do as Lord of the harvest. So we asked would you do this in us today? We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.