AN EXPOSITION OF MATTHEW 9:36-38

36 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.

Having preached the gospel of the kingdom, and having established His credentials as the King of the kingdom by healing every sickness, and every disease among the people, Jesus takes time to consider the multitudes that came to Him. That is important because it is possible to become so involved in the work of ministry that noble emotions are jaded. In particular, there is the virtuous emotion of compassion. The Bible says that Jesus was “moved with compassion.” His disciples should also have compassion on the unconverted.

Jesus looked at the surging sea of people who came to hear Him preach, and thought of sheep having no shepherd to love them, guide them, or provide for their every need. Today, by way of application, there are many people who have religion, but no true shepherd to guide them. There are many who are willing to slaughter the sheep. Some slaughter the sheep through bad theology. Some slaughter the sheep by setting a terrible moral example. Some slaughter the sheep by dominating them.

From His compassionate heart, and with a desire to help people in their wandering state, Jesus had something He wanted His disciples to know, and something He wanted them to do. First, Jesus wanted the disciples to know there are souls in need of salvation, sanctification, and shepherding. Second, Jesus wanted the disciples to pray specifically about the need.

37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;

Sometimes, it is difficult for a Christian to see the plenteous harvest. A life lived in a Christian bubble can get a distorted image of the world. Spiritual eyes must be lifted high enough, and far enough, to see the many souls that have yet to be reached with the gospel. The Church must capture a fresh vision of those who are without Christ, without hope, and without eternal life.

British missionary to Africa and Bible translator Robert Moffat (1795 – 1883), encouraged the heart of more than one young person to become a missionary to Africa when he said, “In the vast plain to the north I have sometimes seen, in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been.” He went on to exclaim, “Oh, that I had a thousand lives and a thousand bodies! All of them should be devoted to no other employment but to preach Christ to these degraded, despised, yet beloved mortals.”

“There’s a call comes ringing over the restless wave,
Send the light! Send the light!
There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save,
Send the light! Send the light!

Send the light, the blessèd Gospel light;
Let it shine from shore to shore!
Send the light, the blessèd Gospel light;
Let it shine forevermore!”

Charles H. Gabriel

38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Those who accept the gospel message, and embrace the gospel terms, become an ambassador of the kingdom. Every Christian must go and tell others that the King has come; come to the kingdom. Find a way to be useful in the work of the Lord.

When the church prays for gospel laborers, the promise of the Lord can be pressed. A Divine promise has been given. “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jer. 3:15). Let the Church pray, “Oh Lord, remember your promise, and keep it in this hour. Give to your people shepherds according to your own heart, for their good, and for your glory.”

While gospel prayers are offered, and answered, Church leaders would do well to consider using the labourers God will send into His vineyard. They are available to work. Christian laborers should not be left standing in idleness. Jesus does not want spectators, but participators in advancing the kingdom of God. To that end Jesus told a parable, “And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way” (Matt. 20:4). Christians should want to work for Christ. They have a holy responsibility to go and find a place to be useful, if not in one place, then in another. It is the will of the Lord. There is no time to waste.

“Work when the day grows brighter,
Work in the glowing sun;
Work, for the night is coming,
When man’s work is done.”

Mrs. Harry Coghill

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