“‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few’” (Matthew 9:37).
As Jesus changes the metaphor from shepherding to harvesting, He gives another motive for His ministry. He ministered because people face God’s final judgment.
Jesus ministered compassionately and tirelessly because He could see the ultimate consummation of divine judgment toward which every person was headed—every one in the multitudes who did not trust in Him. Paul said, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11).
In 2 Thessalonians, Paul paints a vivid picture of God’s judgment: “The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (1:7–9).
It is easy to lose awareness of the imminence and the inevitability of God’s judgment, but the Christian who loses sight of that judgment loses a major portion of his motive for witnessing.
When Jesus saw the crowds, He taught them, preached to them, and healed them—all for the ultimate purpose that they might come to Him and escape the harvest of judgment they could not otherwise avoid.
Think of the cost that sin has already extracted from you, here where God’s mercy is still available and the promise of His restorative forgiveness is actively in force. Imagine its cost on those who will be paying its price forever. Be sure that as you witness, you don’t minimize the cost sin brings.
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610