I want to paint a picture for you. Imagine Jesus surrounded by sick, deaf, blind, paralyzed, hurting people. What look is on his face? I always imagined his face to be somewhat stoic and impersonal. But then I read Matthew 9:36 which says, "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Jesus' face would not be like a statue, doing the duty of healing. His face is full of compassion and care, and love for the people surrounding him. All of Matthew 9 is about Jesus healing people. He heals the dead daughter of a ruler, two blind men, a paralyzed man, and numerous other people as he travels through the country. When I read the ending verse of his compassion for the crowds of people, I had to reread the whole chapter in a new light. I could see him meeting a blind man, cupping his face in his hands and staring deep into the unseeing eyes, and I could see his will to heal that man. I saw him stoop low to be on the same level as the paralyzed man, I could see him gripping the hand of the dead girl. His heart was full with the will to heal people; his desire and joy was to see people made whole.
And then I saw him at the Well, surrounded by needy people, with his heart full of compassion and love for them, and an eagerness to see them whole. I must confess I was humbled by this image. Often, when I get a moment to sit among our guests, without any tasks to distract me, I realize just how much I love being with them. But it's not long before I also realize just how much need there is in our family room and I am overwhelmed. We do what we can, but it is nowhere near enough to heal people from addiction, mental illness, and poverty. I was humbled at the thought of Jesus on one of the couches in the family room, because he is the one who walked this earth and healed the blind, the paralyzed, the deaf, the diseased, raised the dead, and forgave human brokenness. Jesus made people whole, and he can and will make people whole again today.
In the next verse, Jesus tells his disciples, "the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." I tend to repeat that verse and am discouraged by how much work there is to be done and how few workers there are. But that is the wrong perspective. The harvest, or the people ready to enter God's kingdom, ready to meet Jesus and his way, is enormous. However, that is not a problem when we remember there is a Lord of the harvest, and he wants to send workers out. I have seen this even in the past two weeks as volunteers have put themselves forward. From individuals who want to commit to coming once a week to help during the day at the Well, to a full team of enthusiastic engineering students from USF unexpectedly came to serve at the Banquet. The regular Banquet team was able to take the night off and eat dinner as a guest thanks to them. I, nor others at the Well, have sought these volunteers, but they still hear and they come to take part in the work at the Well. They still come to do their part in this small corner of God's kingdom, because it's God's will and joy to connect them here. God wants to send people to do his will and it is him sending them. And he sends us because he wants to see people whole. He wants to see us made whole in the work of serving him and loving our neighbor, and see our neighbor made whole as they encounter the love of God through community.
So don't be discouraged by overwhelming need or brokenness you may encounter. It is Jesus' will to heal people, and his joy to send us out.