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The wisdom of Jesus is generous. Eternal. Extraordinary. Kind. Everlasting.
Is Jesus one of the major influences of your life? Welcome back to Radical and Relevant, where we are exploring the enduring wisdom of Jesus' teachings. In today's reading, from the ninth chapter of Matthew's Gospel, we encounter the great compassion of Jesus and witness Jesus send the 12 disciples out on mission. And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were troubled and abandoned like sheep without a shepherd.
And he said to his disciples, "The harvest is great, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers into the fields." The word that jumps out at me today is teaching. Jesus was teaching. How is your education going? Are you in a high-growth stage of your ongoing education or has it stalled out? And who is teaching you? Media figures, politicians, entertainers, or the alpha and omega, Jesus Christ. It is easy to envision Jesus in the epic moments of his story, healing the masses, dying on the cross, rising from the dead. But it is just as important to envision Him as a teacher and even more important for us to take up our place at His feet and learn.
What's the most powerful lesson you have learned from Jesus this year? What's the most practical lesson you have learned from Jesus this year? And are you ready to take a master's class in marriage, career, personal finances, health and well-being, prayer and reflection? Jesus is a teacher, the greatest teacher ever. Not to attend his classes is foolish. The phrase that stirs within me in this reading is when Jesus looks at the crowd, and his heart was moved with pity for them, because they were troubled and abandoned like sheep without a shepherd. There is so much here. Jesus is profound humanity demonstrated by his pity for the people. There are the people themselves, troubled and abandoned.
This description fits so many people in our own place and time. And then there is the line we all know, like sheep without a shepherd. What's the most important word in this phrase? Like. Yeah, the word like. Like is the most important word in this phrase. Jesus doesn't say they are sheep without a shepherd. He doesn't say they are lost and troubled and will remain so because they have no shepherd. No, he says they are behaving like sheep without a shepherd. It's not that they don't have a shepherd. They have a shepherd. And he is that shepherd willing to guide them, protect them, and feed them.
And this connects perfectly with a powerful phrase in the second part of today's Gospel reading. The harvest is great, but the labors are few. These troubled and abandoned people, and we all know plenty of them, they are the harvest. You and I, we are the laborers. But do you think of yourself as one of God's laborers? There should be a sign at the exit of the parking lot of every church that reads, "You are now entering mission territory." We are God's laborers, and there's plenty of work to do. Don't get discouraged or overwhelmed by all the work that needs to be done. Just do your part. Don't let your part be left undone.
The virtue today's Gospel invites us to adopt is persistence. It is amazing what can be accomplished if we will all do a little bit every day with an unerring persistence. What is persistence? It is a firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. Persistence is a virtue that will serve you well in every area of your life. The gospel of Jesus Christ is radical. It's relevant. It's as radical and relevant today as it ever was before. So go out into the world today and astonish people with your persistence. And remember, don't just be yourself. Be the very best version of yourself. All that God created you to be.
Thank you, Ambassadors.
You are changing the world.
Have a great day.
Simon, come sit.
I love you.
Have a great day. [applause]