"Spectators or Participants?"

Preached by on January 27, 2019
— From the series,

As we serve God, meet the needs of this church family, we are also called to touch the lives of the community in which we live. Jesus saw the hurts and needs of people and then met them.

Spectators or Participants

(Matt. 9:35-38)



A.  It must have been an interesting dinner party.  Anybody who was anybody was there.  Luke simply tells us that Jesus went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees.  The very idea of breaking bread together was a sign of fellowship.  It was an occasion to show hospitality or kindness.  But that is not what was happening here. (Luke 14:1-6)

B.  The party was hosted on the Sabbath.  But the nefarious motive is revealed by Luke.  They were watching him carefully and closely.  Why?  The reason is simple.  A man with a disease called “dropsy” shows up.  Dropsy causes the body to swell with fluids.  How did he come to be there?  The text doesn’t say.  He may have been invited simply because they wanted to see what Jesus would do.  So they watched Jesus.  How sad it is, that a man in pain, in physical distress, is used as tool to see how Jesus would respond.

C.  It doesn’t take much to know what Jesus is going to do.  Unlike so many others, Jesus is filled with compassion.  Jesus doesn’t generally start the conversation by making sure they are of the right religious background, of the right ethnic background, of the right financial background or anything else.  He simply starts by seeing a need and being filled with compassion does something.

D.  In this case, Jesus first asks a question to those at the dinner party.  He turns to the lawyers and Pharisees who were present and asked this question, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” They were silent.  What do you say when a man is in pain and a doctor is in front of him?


I Spectator or Participant?

A.  Is it better for us to help a person who is living a morally sinful life, or to let them go without something that we could offer them physically?  In the parable I told last week, did the Samaritan first look to see if the man injured was a Jew or Samaritan?  Did he look to see if he was of the right social class or did the man simply goes over and helped the man at his own personal expense?

B.  So we come to a text today that is not generally studied in the way I want us see it.  Our text begins by telling us (Matt. 9:35).  Then we get more detailed statement (vs 36).

C.  The words I want focus on are, “Jesus went,” “he saw,”  “he had” and “he said.”  The question asked of us is this, “Are we going to be spectators or participants?”

D.  Jesus went – It is much easier us when people to come to us inside this building than it is for us to go to them.  But Jesus went.  He took the message and the help, and went to them.  Jesus took the first step in building a relationship deep enough that they would listen to the message that was far more important.  Jesus went into their synagogues, into their towns, into their lives with the purpose of being a participant in the ministry of God.

E.  Just ask yourself, “What is the likelihood that Jesus, at some point in time stopped what he was doing one day to help a person who harvesting in their fields, or who was working on their fishing boat or fishing nets?

F.  Then our text says, “he saw” and “he had.”  Jesus saw the crowds and had compassion.  Why?  Because they were harassed and helpless.  How many people in our community are harassed and/or helpless?  It is one thing to identify harassed people, it is another to have enough compassion to do something to help.  Jesus helped.


II.  Jesus Teaches Us

A.  Then we get the teaching that Jesus gave to his disciples (vs 37-38).  The problem is not that the needs are few or the harvest is small.  The problem is a lack of participants in the ministry of God.

B.  Many of you are familiar with another dinner party when a sinful woman comes in and begins to weep at the feet of Jesus, wiping her tears on his dirty feet with her hair.  At that dinner party Jesus asked the host, Simon, “Do you see this woman?”  It was not, did he notice there was an uninvited guest, but did he see her, her value, her as a person?  There are lots of sinners, but do we see them?

C.  When Jesus told his disciple to pray for workers in the harvest the point is clear that there were not enough workers in the harvest!  Until we as individual Christians, and collectively as a congregation are willing to go, are willing to see hurting helpless people and have compassion, the church will not be much more than a gathering place where saved people talk theology.

D.  Jesus wants participants in the harvest that God provides.  We are called to be the hands, feet and mouth of Jesus.  Paul calls us “ambassadors of Christ.”  But the calling I want us to hear this morning is a call to action.  To love as Jesus love, to live like Jesus lived, to do what Jesus did.



A.  Listen to a few verses with as we close:

Luke 6:33, “If you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same.”

Gal. 6:10, “So the, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Heb. 13:16, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

B.  Jesus went to the cross for one reason – he loved me.  When I was yet a sinner, Jesus died for me.  Jesus met my spiritual needs, but through the church, he also meets my emotional and physical needs.  He gives me family.

C.  Jesus knows you.  He knows if you are hurting and he knows if you are happy.  Jesus enters into your life and desires fellowship.  If we can help connect you to Jesus, please come as we stand and sing.



Because of Jesus,

Jeffrey Dillinger, minister