In the midst of ministering to the sinners amongst them, Jesus was teaching as well that a situation like this was exactly why He had come to earth (9:10-17). Then He made His way to help the ruler who came to Him for help with his ailing daughter and even healed the woman with the issue of blood along the way. What compassion we find in this encounter! While He healed this woman, the ruler’s daughter died, but Jesus teaches about His resurrection power and brings her back to life (9:18-25).
After all this, Jesus heals two blind men who follow Him and seek His help as well as a man who could not speak and was demon-possessed (9:26-34). Then we find Matthew 9:35 – “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” What an amazing time it would have been to be in Israel! Jesus was ministering to every need – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual – and people were made whole!
Matthew 9:36 begins with a small word that turns everything on a dime – But! You would think Jesus would be rejoicing in all that He had done for people. But His eyes were looking well beyond the physical needs and even beyond the present moment in His omniscience.
“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd” Matthew 9:36
I have often wondered why Jesus didn’t just explain redemption right here. He was obviously moved, but I think that He was looking past the people that any mere mortal could see. He was looking into the future and seeing all the people that He had come to save. The sick and sinful of the ages. His compassion was running over as He thought of you and me and every person who would ever wander as those sheep without a shepherd.
What a blessed and encouraging thought! There is no promise here of the location of the harvest or the timing of the result, but I have to take God at His Word. He described the harvest as plenteous or abundant. When I look at the situation of our world and the church today, it seems like many Christians have thrown in the towel thinking that the days of seeing souls saved are something of time past. But I cling to this truth – the harvest is plenteous.
Jesus’ second observation is in exact contrast to the plenteous harvest – “but the laborers are few.”
It seems like Jesus is laying out the scenario for us – there is much to be done, but there are so few to get it done. Remember He is saying this in response to His compassionate heart for sheep roaming without a shepherd. The few laborers are in direct contrast to the abundant harvest. But He doesn’t stop there. He is not being critical of the disciples’ being few in number. He gives a command to them and in turn to us concerning this lack of laborers in the harvest field.
“Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:38
Jesus’ solution to this problem was to command us to pray!
You might think the solution is for us to work, but that is not what He says. He doesn’t command us to come up with results. Those results are up to Him. He commands us to pray that God would send people into the harvest field. Too often I find myself thinking that there is too much to do, but I have been commanded to pray that God would send workers into His harvest. How am I doing at that? How are you doing?
Maybe the prayer should be first like Isaiah 6 – Lord, here am I; send me!
I know that not every person can go to a foreign field in full-time service for Christ, but each of us can go across the street or next door to our neighbors. We are also commanded to go with the Gospel into this harvest field in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15. Maybe this prayer for laborers will encourage you and me to go more faithfully in our part of the harvest field.
I think we can also be praying that the Lord would send others as well. Have you prayed for your children to be used by God in His harvest field? What about those grandchildren? Or nieces or nephews? What about the young people or retired couples in your church? What might God do in His harvest if we all obeyed this command?
There is no promise of the results of these prayers. He doesn’t even give an indication of whether we will see the answers to these prayers, but I know that He will be pleased and will use it for His glory if we follow His command.
Who needs to be added to your “Prayer for Laborers” list today?
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