The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. — Matthew 9:37-38
A gentleman in our congregation tells of an event that occurred when he was about five years old on the old family farm in Minnesota. The family had large fields of wheat, barley, and some oats, and the crops were golden and ripe. It was time to harvest. Suddenly his father got desperately ill with an appendicitis attack. There was no way he could harvest the crops, which needed to be reaped in time for the threshing machine that would soon be in the area. Also, the unharvested crops were vulnerable to summer rain that would cause devastation.
Thankfully, there were brothers and cousins who came to the rescue and reaped, bundled, and shocked the crop in time for the threshing machine. The bundled and shocked sheaves were also safe from any summer rains.
As Jesus beheld the Jewish multitudes, He saw them as a potential spiritual harvest. He knew stormy times were coming, and that much pain and heartache lay ahead. His heart was filled with compassion for these people and He knew they needed to be brought to spiritual safety before the destruction would come. If only there were enough laborers for such a huge task!
Certainly, the souls of mankind are facing troubling times today. As we look around us at the sin and heart-breaking human conditions in this world, our hearts are saddened. War, famine, torture, starvation, crime, abuse, and poverty are rampant. Even more tragically, millions of souls are heading for a lost eternity, and the time for repentance is drawing to a close. Soon, the harvest could be lost.
But there is good news! There is hope for all people through Jesus and His gift of salvation. As we consider the lost condition of so many around us, we need to feel an urgency to get the Gospel out. We need to feel compassion for the lost and hurting, and to pray for a passion for these souls to be saved. As we take up the burden for souls, we must pray that laborers will reach the corners of the earth we cannot touch. Truly, life’s greatest responsibility comes from a call to win souls, but the greatest joy comes from a fulfillment of that call.
Matthew, having been a tax collector, likely was an expert record-keeper. This could explain why he kept written records of Jesus’ actions. In doing so, Matthew gave evidence of Jesus’ kingship by giving us examples of many of His words and accomplishments including preaching, teaching, and healing throughout the cities and villages of Israel.
Besides proclaiming God’s plan for mankind and His coming Kingdom, Jesus had a heart of compassion for the simple people whom He saw as scattered sheep without a shepherd. Jesus knew there was help for these fainting souls, but who would spread the Word of this wonderful hope? Jesus commissioned His followers to pray for laborers to reap a spiritual harvest of these souls who would believe if they only knew the way, comparing the multitudes to ripened fields.
As Jesus called His twelve disciples to come near to Him, He gave them authority over unclean spirits and to heal sickness and disease. The Scripture in today’s text lists the names of the apostles who came from many walks of life. This shows that all types of people are called and all are needed to be laborers in His vineyard. Bartholomew was likely another name for Nathanael, and Thaddeus was also called Judas, the brother of James. Simon the Canaanite was at other times called Simon Zelotes.
Jesus commissioned His disciples to go preach the Gospel to the Jews. It was His plan for the converted Jews to become His messengers to the Gentiles at a later time. The disciples were to declare that God’s Kingdom was near. While the Jews were anticipating that their Messiah would come and set up an earthly kingdom that would overthrow their Roman captors, Jesus was referring to His spiritual Kingdom that would take root in the hearts of men.
Jesus went on to commission the disciples to heal people and cast out devils just as He had been doing. Since they had received freely of God’s gifts, they were to freely give to others. Then those to whom they ministered were to provide for the disciples, as they were deserving of this sustenance because of their labor.
For those who rejected God’s message, the disciples were to shake the dust off their feet, which in that culture was a symbol of separation. Possibly, this would warn the observers that the call of God was ceasing, perhaps never to return. Those who received the message were to be given the blessing of peace.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The proofs of the King’s claims
L. Authority to command men
1. The King’s compassion (9:35-38)
2. The King’s summons (10:1-4)
a. The delegation of authority (10:1)
b. The list of apostles (10:2-4)
3. The King’s instructions
a. The direction of their ministry (10:5-14)
(1) Recipients of their ministry (10:5-6)
(2) Message of their ministry (10:7)
(3) Indication of their ministry (10:8)
(4) Support in the ministry (10:9-10)
(5) Treatment in the ministry (10:11-15)
Today, more than ever, there is a world that needs to be saved before it is too late. Let us pray and work with a passion to rescue the lost. What a joy it will be one day to lay sheaves at the Master’s feet!