The Bible is a book filled with meaning and blessing. However, some passages are very disturbing. For instance, in Psalm 142:4, the Bible says that “no man cared for my soul.” This passage should bother us.
I believe there are literally billions of people in our world about whom no one cares. It is safe to say that millions live in this world with no one to pray for them or tell them about Jesus.
Sadly, many Christians know Jesus but do not care about the souls of the lost. What a contrast to the Lord Jesus Christ! His passion for souls brought Him from heaven to earth and motivated His every waking activity (Luke 19:10; Mark 10:45). It was this passion for souls that propelled Him to an old rugged cross where He gave His life to save lost sinners (Rom. 5:8).
In Matthew 9:36-38, Jesus looked upon the multitudes that had gathered around Him because of His miracles. As He looked at these helpless, hopeless, hurting people, Jesus saw four elements that caused Him to be moved with compassion for these lost ones. These same four elements ought to cause those of us who claim the name of Jesus to have the same heart for sinners that motivated our Saviour! Let’s look into this passage as we consider the thought, “A Passion for Souls.”
I. JESUS SAW THEIR DEPARTURE FROM GOD AND THEIR DEPRAVITY IN SIN (MATT. 9:36)
They were “scattered abroad” (verse 36).
A. Outside the fold (no company or fellowship)
B. Away from the Shepherd (no guidance or protection)
C. Away from home (no comfort or rest)
D. Apart from where they should have been (Eph. 2:12)
Christians need to understand that this world is away from God! Not everyone is in a right relationship with Him, but all need a witness! The Good Shepherd seeks sheep like these (Luke 15:3-7).
In Matthew 9:36, Jesus wasn’t referring to physical fainting; His words had a deeper meaning! He was moved with compassion because these people were lost under a burdensome load of sin.
Notice the sins of the world. We are surrounded by men and women who are capable of doing absolutely anything you can imagine. These depraved people need to be reached by a compassionate Christian soul-winner!
II. JESUS SAW THEIR DESTINY
A. Jesus knew that apart from Him, these people would be lost. No wonder He was moved with compassion! Jesus doesn’t want anyone to be lost!
Ellen G. White says, “In the apostasy, man alienated himself from God; earth was cut off from heaven. Across the gulf that lay between, there could be no communion. But through Christ, earth is again linked with heaven. With His own merits, Christ bridged the gulf which sin had made, so that ministering angels can hold communion with man. Christ connects fallen man in his weakness and helplessness with the Source of infinite power. But in vain are men’s dreams of progress, in vain all efforts for the uplifting of humanity, if they neglect the one Source of hope and help for the fallen race.”1
B. Christians need the same vision!
C. Look around, church! There are people all around who will die without the knowledge of Jesus (Ezek. 33:8). We must share with them the vision from heaven and act accordingly.
III. JESUS SAW THEIR DESPAIR WITHOUT A SHEPHERD
A. They were without a shepherd!
B. The blessings of the church and of the saved—prayer, companionship, peace, joy, rest, satisfaction, etc.—are things the lost world knows almost nothing about.
C. Our duty as believers is to tell people about Jesus. Our hearts ought to be broken because the world doesn’t know our Saviour!
IV. JESUS SENT HIS DISCIPLES TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE (MATT. 9:37, 38)
Jesus places three responsibilities on the shoulders of His people:
A. Visualize. See the harvest! Recognize that not everyone is saved; millions are poised on the edge of everlasting destruction! We also need to see that the harvest is ready and waiting to be gathered! We will never reap until we first enter the field (Mark 16:15).
B. Agonize. “Pray ye therefore” (Matt. 9:38). This is a call to be broken and burdened over the plight of the lost. There are few broken hearts over the lost in our day! We need to attack the devil on their behalf, praying for them constantly and seeking the Lord for the souls of sinners.
C. Evangelize. It isn’t enough to see the need, nor is it enough to pray for the lost and be concerned for their souls. Jesus desires that each of us does the work of an evangelist (Acts 1:8). Andrew portrays the role of a burdened Christian (John 1:40-42; 6:8, 9; 12:20-22); he fulfilled the call to be a fisher of men (Matt. 4:18, 19).
Ellen G. White says, “God might have committed the message of the gospel, and all the work of loving ministry, to the heavenly angels. He might have employed other means for accomplishing His purpose. But in His infinite love He chose to make us co-workers with Himself, with Christ and the angels, that we might share the blessing, the joy, the spiritual uplifting, which results from this unselfish ministry.”2
She also affirms, “The church of Christ is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men. Its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. And the obligation rests upon all Christians. Everyone, to the extent of his talent and opportunity, is to fulfill the Saviour’s commission. The love of Christ, revealed to us, makes us debtors to all who know Him not. God has given us light, not for ourselves alone, but to shed upon them.”3
What are you doing? Are you having any success (Prov. 11:30)? God’s plan is that His people share the good news with a dying planet. Our job is the greatest the world has ever known (Ps. 126:5, 6).
Perhaps we need to come before the Lord and confess to Him that we haven’t witnessed as we should have. Time is short, the laborers are few, and the harvest is plentiful and ready. Are you doing your part?
Ellen G. White declares, “Those who are watching for souls, those who devote themselves most fully to labor for the salvation of the erring, are most surely working out their own salvation.”4
May God help you to understand what a responsibility and privilege it is to have a passion for souls and to be a disciple in His family.
1 Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, 21.
2 Ibid., 79.
3 Ibid., 81.
4 Ibid., 80.
General Conference Ministerial Association