Read Introduction to Matthew
35Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
The paragraph running from 9:35-38 introduces Jesus’ mission discourse of chapter 10. The gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of grace are two different entities. There are not two gospels but different aspects to the gospel. The gospel of the kingdom has to do with Jesus setting up His worldwide kingdom on earth.
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages,
From this point, Jesus launched His third Galilean tour.
teaching in their synagogues,
Jesus taught formally in the synagogues by conveying propositional information. He was doctrinally oriented in His presentation.
preaching the gospel of the kingdom,
Jesus was the King of the “kingdom.” He would one day reign over Israel and the world.
and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
Jesus’ miracles demonstrated the authenticity of His message. His enemies did not challenge His authenticity but attributed Jesus’ miracles to Satan. The healing ministry of Christ was His title for Messiahship.
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them,
The multitudes throughout Galilee without a shepherd engendered compassion in Jesus for them. The word “compassion” is a strong term for sympathy, affection. This term does not refer to sentimentalism but to sympathy; it is even more empathy (identifying with) than sympathy. No one has desire to win the lost without this. The sentimental trap makes us ebb and flow in emotions rather than giving us conviction about winning the lost.
because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.
The multitudes were like sheep having no shepherd to guide them away from ravenous wolves. They had no biblical guidance and thus were vulnerable to spiritual attack. They were disorganized and in disarray. The word “weary” carries the idea of troubled. They were in a sad and pitiful state.
For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.1 Pe 2:25
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
Jesus’ compassion for the multitudes caused Him to turn to His disciples. The harvest here is the harvest of souls (Jn 4:35-38). There are not enough people to spread the message.
The “therefore” draws an inference that Jesus needs workers to gather the harvest of souls.
pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Jesus challenged His disciples to pray for the multitudes. The word “send out” is thrust forth. The idea is to drive out laborers into the harvest.
Missions requires the work to be spread among many.
The harvest is ripe and ready to be harvested (Jn 4:34-38). It takes many to enter the fields. Professional ministers are too few to do the job. Many of us need the heart of a shepherd. We need to pray about this, but be careful for the very person who prays about this may be sent into the harvest field.