Posted by on Jun 12, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Really Seeing the People

Good morning and welcome to the Second Sunday After Pentecost. Our Gospel passage for this Sunday is Matthew 9:35-10:15. Dear Lord…speak to each of us as we read and consider your words. Challenge and direct each of us to do the work you inspire us to do to spread your Word to your people. Amen.

Jesus has been traveling around speaking to the people, healing the sick and casting out demons. In this passage, we read that “Jesus saw the crowds”. This becomes the starting point for our consideration today, just as it was the starting point for Jesus commissioning the disciples to bring the message to the people.

Jesus was right in with the crowd. He wasn’t standing on a high mountain looking down. He wasn’t standing on the balcony of a building. Jesus was in the midst of the crowds and was able to greet them. He was WITH the people. He was part of their world at that point.

Then, we see that Jesus had compassion for the people there as he could see they were harassed, helpless and wandering. Here, Matthew uses the term, “They were like a sheep without a shepherd.” They needed direction and protection. Jesus tells the disciples that the “harvest” is plentiful, but those who would harvest it (the laborers) are few. This is when Jesus commissions the disciples to be those laborers as He knows He cannot do all of the needed work himself.

Jesus gives the disciples the authority over unclean spirits and cast them out as well as cure diseases and sicknesses. In other words, to care for and be a shepherd to those who were wandering and helpless. Jesus was showing his authority because he targeted the audience who had common values and beliefs.

Jesus not only commissioned the disciples to cure diseases and cast out demons, he specifically said that the disciples should minister to the Israelites and not be concerned at this point about the Gentiles and Samaritans. Jesus termed the Israelites “the lost sheep of Israel.”

The disciples were just beginning their mission and needed to concentrate on one nationality at this point. He also gave the disciples instructions about not taking too many “worldly” items with them…rather have one staff, one robe, one pair of sandals. They were not to take any money with them or pack a bag for their journey.

Jesus instructed them to enter a town and find out which was worthy of their companionship and stay there while they were teaching and ministering to the people. They were to bless the house, if the owner accepted them. He also instructed them to shake the dust off their feet if the people would not listen or welcome them and move on to the next place. He equated the lack of hospitality they may experience to the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus also indicated that the “shaking off of the dust” was like a final judgment for those who reject the gospel and those who teach it.

Now, the people Jesus was seeing were Israelites. He saw that the people of Israel needed to know they were worth something. He saw that they needed to gain strength and comfort. He wasn’t judging the people, He wanted to help them like a shepherd. He had compassion for them and He saw ALL the people.

There are some interesting aspects of this passage that are very applicable to our situation in our world. When Jesus was commenting to the disciples that they were to pray for workers to help shepherd the people and then he sent the disciples out to be the church. What does that say? Yes…when we see a need, we are to pray for a solution to that need, but then we are not to just sit around and do nothing. Jesus wants us to pray for solutions to problems and then work toward creating those solutions to eliminate the problem. Prayer and work must be united.

What does it mean for us to SEE the people? This would be really seeing them…not judging them…not categorizing them…seeing the people. Seeing them as worthy of compassion. Worthy of understanding. Worthy of care. Do we see some people who need the words of Jesus for peace in their lives? So….when we look at people…what do we REALLY see?

I think this question is vital right now in our lives. Do we need to talk to a person and then put ourselves in that person’s place to realize what the person needs? Do we need to talk to a person and listen to them. We can then find out what really being seen means?

Many of us are praying for our commuities…not only the ones we live in, but the ones that are on the news right now that have been experiencing so many issues. How do we SEE those people? Understand what they are thinking and experiencing? This is what God is wanting us to do….really SEE the people.

Now…seeing the people doesn’t mean that we are to rush right in with answers to what we think may be the problem. Rather it means we need to get to know the people and what they are feeling and thinking. We need to listen.

In some instances, if we are concerned about an issue that we have no one immediately in our area that can help, maybe we need to read several articles and aspects of the subject to find out the whole story…not just part of the story. We want to find out the truth….which could take awhile, but that might be important to help solve an issue sometimes.

I just got to wondering about the people who have the same patriarch (grandfather, great grandfather), but different grandmothers or great grandmothers. You wonder why I mention this. Well, when many African Americans came to the US hundreds of years ago, many were purchased by plantation owners. One of the females could have had a child by the owner. The owner already had a wife and a child. I know of two men who discovered on a plane flight that they had the same great grandfather. One man was white and the other was black. What would their “take” be on the issues happening right now? These two men became friends as they really were related.

You know it is easy to see someone walking by and judge them by either what they are wearing, how their hair is cut or styled or what you think they may be doing. If your eyes meet, do you smile? Do they? What if we would just push our thoughts about that person to the back of our mind and just SEE the person as someone God created and who God loves.

When we see the issues of our days lately, do we want to do something to help solve the problem? As we read and consider the issues, we find they are complex and deeply rooted. What can we do to follow Jesus’ example by praying AND helping to work toward the solution. Are we being called to not only be the church, but to be the church that sees the crowds, prays for help and solutions and then works toward finding a colution?

How can we really see our neighbors without filtering them through our own thoughts and notions? Can we SEE them. It means to turn off our prejudices and pre-conceived ideas. It isn’t easy, but we may see in them something we, ourselves, have been attempting to change in our lives. Would we see that we are not really that different?

Can we be less critical and more accepting? Can we SEE people?

Dear Lord…help us to really see your people. Lead us to the people you want us to work with in our world at this time. Lead us to the truth…through your words as well as the words of the people in our day. We have had so many days without contact with friends and relatives. You see our loneliness and concern. Thank you for challenging us and helping to keep the people in our lives and prayers for when this strange time in our world ends. Help us be part of the solution and conclusion. We ask for your assistance for our businesses. We thank you for the people in the police departments, hospitals and clinics, and emergency management areas and their care and concern for us. Help us to see them as needing our thankfulness and encouragement. Help us, Lord to SEE your people.


June 2020


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