Part 1: “See”
Matthew 9:35-38 (NLT) - 35 Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
Let me ask you this question: “When you see massive crowds of people, on the freeways, at public gatherings, on television, in other countries… do you see their lostness? Their lifetime pursuit of recognition, validation, happiness and possessions? Their non-comprehension of God and eternity? God does and Jesus observed the condition of mankind while He walked the earth.
In Luke 19:41-42 we find Jesus on his entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and Luke relates:… ”But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. 42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes.”
In our text today – we see Christ’s great compassion shine through –
Matthew 9:36 (NLT) - When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew records these words of Jesus, before his ascension into heaven.
Matthew 28:18-19 (NLT) - “Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Mark records these words of Christ.
Mark 16:15-16 NLT) – “And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.”
The marching orders for the followers of Christ? Tell others about the Good News of Jesus Christ. And make sure, you tell everyone… everywhere!
In order to understand the complete and life-altering importance of this command of Christ’s we must seek to comprehend the seemingly incomprehensible power of God. I love the word incomprehensible because it literally means “not able to be understood!” I am convinced in my heart, that if we could comprehend the Glory of God, even partially, we would give away our agenda and without question or thought of consequence, adopt His.
First on His agenda is for you to believe in His Son, Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sin and for your promise of Eternal Life.
Secondly on His agenda is clearly for us to trust in Him and obey His commands. They can be summed up: Love God, Love Others, & Go Tell
This is the mandate of the church – to go – for God! the prophet Isaiah gives us his perspective when confronted with the Mighty Desire of God for us to follow His agenda!
Isaiah 6:1-8 - It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.2 Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” 4 Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke. 5 Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” 8 Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”
Once the blood of Christ has been applied to our lives, like the burning coal that cleansed the guilt of the prophet Isaiah, the Lord immediately commissions Isaiah. He did not wait for Isaiah to complete courses in Evangelism or Training on the proper techniques of telling! He simply removed Isaiah’s guilt and removed his sins, then sends the cleansed Isaiah on his way to tell. It is the same for us today. Once forgiven and our names securely written in the Book of Life, Jesus is sending us.
The masses are without direction, without understanding, without a Savior… do we understand that? And just as significantly, do we understand our responsibility in telling them there is a Way, a Truth and a Life?
Do we really understand the Lostness of Man?
In David Platt’s treatise “The Glory of God, the Lostness of Man, and the Gospel of Christ,” we find this observation regarding the Lostness of man.
Quoting Pastor Platt: “Think about the testimony of Scripture to the lostness of man. Only three chapters into the Bible, man deliberately chooses a rebellious and wayward path. Just moments after we read of unhindered communion between God and man, Adam and Eve are slandering God’s goodness and spurning God’s authority. “Let’s eat from the tree; God doesn’t know what’s best for us. We know better than him. Even if God did say, ‘Don’t eat from the tree,’ we’re going to do it anyway. He’s not Lord over us. We can do what we want.” Keep in mind that this is the God who beckons storm clouds, and they come. This is the God who says to the wind and to the rain, “You blow there, and you fall here,” and they do it. This is the God who says to mountains, “You go here,” and to the seas, “You stop there,” and they obey. Everything in creation responds to the bidding of the Creator until you get to man, and you and I have the audacity to look at him and say no! We slander God’s goodness, spurn God’s authority, and question God’s Word. The tempter in Genesis 3 ushers sin into the world with the provocatively perilous question, “Did God really say . . . ?” Oh, it is a dangerous thing to subject God’s word to man’s judgment. Here in Genesis 3, man discounts divine truth with misplaced confidence in human thought. One of the most tragic chapters in all of Scripture, Genesis 3, ripples throughout the rest of the Bible. From one man’s sin comes condemnation for all men (Romans 5:12, 18), and the portrait of man’s lostness pervades every page of Scripture. We are cast out from God’s favorable presence (Genesis 3). We are alienated from God and hostile toward him (Colossians 1:21). We are cut off from God (Romans 11:22), condemned by God (Romans 5:10), and at enmity with God (James 4:4). We are separated from Christ (Ephesians 2:12). We are slaves to sin (John 8:34) and dominated by Satan (2 Timothy 2:26). We are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3) and lovers of darkness (John 3:20) who have been darkened in our understanding (Ephesians 4:18). We live in impurity and lawlessness (Romans 6:19). The lostness of man affects each of us individually and all of us collectively. Our minds are depraved. Romans 1:21–23 makes clear that our claims to be wise are full of foolishness, for we have exchanged “the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Our minds are debased (Romans 1:28), blinded to truth by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). Our emotions are disordered. Our hearts are sinful (Romans 1:26) and the wicked passions of our flesh wage war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11). Our minds are depraved, our emotions are disordered, and our bodies are defiled. We degrade our bodies with one another (Romans 1:24). Hear the humbling testimony of Paul in Romans 3:10–18 as he draws upon Old Testament truth: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. In our lostness, we are morally evil. The start of Scripture describes how every inclination of our hearts is evil from childhood (Genesis 8:21). According to Jesus, we are spiritually sick (Matthew 19:12). In the end, we are all continually perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:9). Do we realize all of this? Our problem is not simply that we have made some bad decisions. Our problem is not just that we’ve messed up. Our problem is that we are — at the very core of our being — sinfully lost, cut off from God, condemned by God, and consequently destined for hell.”
Wow – what an unbelievable depiction of how lost mankind really is apart from God!
Pastor Platt goes on to quote Scottish Professor James Denney: “If there is any Scripture at all, this is true – that those who stubbornly refuse to submit to the gospel, and to love and obey Jesus Christ, incur at the Last Advent an infinite and irreparable loss. They will pass into a night on which no morning dawns.”
The Lostness of Man? A stark reality! But here’s the hope – it’s found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ! God is Holy and Man is Sinful. We cannot save ourselves – we cannot get to where God is!
This is so vivid in Jesus’ story of the Rich Man and Lazarus found in Luke 16:19-31 19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. 20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. 22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and he went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side. 24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’ 25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’ 27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’ 29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ 30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ 31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
What a vivid depiction of man’s situation once his chance to repent of his sins was over. As believers we rest on the right side of the chasm, but hoards of people are doomed to land on the wrong side -with no means to crossover unless someone tells them.
While there is still time, while the people on this earth still live, we must, must, must get to them with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah cries out with the words: “Woe is me, for I am lost.” And then one the seraphs takes a burning coal from the altar and touches it to Isaiah’s lips and he says these words: “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
Today through Jesus Christ, we have been covered by the sacrifice of His blood on the cross to pay for our sins. The only way to cross the great chasm fixed between us and God is by way of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Have you crossed over?
If so, you have been urged by your Savior Himself to “SEE” what God sees? A world that is lost. And you have been entrusted to see that others find the Way to cross over.
How do you see people? Do you see your friends, your family members, your co-workers, your neighbors, your fellow Georgians, your fellow Americans, your fellow human beings across the world through the lens of eternity?
Or do you simply see those you know and those you don’t? Do you simply see the clerk at the grocery, the driver who just cut you off, the masses on the roadways, the people who crowd the stores and entertainment venues, your children’s teachers, police officers, politicians, athletes, actors, garbage truck drivers, telemarketers, and servers at the restaurant… and never even wonder about their spiritual condition?
Do you even know about those within your sphere of influence? Do they know Christ? Excellent! Do you know those who don’t know Christ? Go find those who don’t. There is a crowd waiting for you to weep over them at their lostness. For someone to see them as Christ saw the people of Jerusalem, as sheep without a shepherd!
According to the United Nations along with information gleaned from the World Population Clock, there are approximately 7.6 Billion people in the world today. That is a crowd, for sure!
This 7.6 billion people are represented by an estimated 17,000 different people groups. According the at 2018 compilation by the Joshua Project, of these 17,000 people groups, over 7,000 are unreached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. This represents over 3 Billion individuals! Unreached people groups are defined by the lack of enough followers of Christ and resources to evangelize their own people.
Are you willing to change how you view others? Will you start with those whom you know?
Thom Rainer from the Billy Graham School of Evangelism has asked hundreds of churches to do a simply exercise. He asked them: Write the names of ten believers with whom they are close enough they could share a prayer concern with them. When that list is completed, write the names of ten non-believers with whom they are close enough they could share the gospel with them. Compare the results of the two lists. His findings are staggering. The first list – no problem. The second list, almost impossible for most people. Why? Thom Rainer goes on to say: “One explanation for our failure to evangelize is simply that we do not know many non-believers well. The typical church has become a place to retreat from the world rather than a place of rearmament to engage the world with the gospel.”
My Friends – Legacy Church must not be that kind of church! We must connect those who are apart from God with the life-saving power of the Gospel of Christ! We must arm ourselves and then go into battle!
Next week we will unpack the incredible power of God to alter a soul. See you then!