Church of Christ
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6) Matthew 9 - Verses 36 through 38
Matthew 9:36 and following

He was moved with compassion by our pain and sickness (Matthew 14:14), our blindness (Matthew 20:34), by our
sorrow (Luke 7:13), by our hunger (Matthew 15:32), by our loneliness (Mark 1:41), by our bewilderment (Matthew
9:36, Mark 6:34).  Compassion means mercy, since, in strict justice, there is no reason in man that God should
save; the need is born of His own compassion.

Scattered sums up graphically the picture of shepherdless sheep lying here and there, having been thrown about
by many diverse forces.  Their condition moved the compassion of Jesus; their very weakness, their unworthiness,
their un-readiness to meet God.  What Matthew is saying is Jesus has the heart of the great, long-awaited David,
the great Shepherd (Isaiah 40:10-11, Jeremiah 23:3-8, Jeremiah 31:10, Ezekiel 34:11-31, Ezekiel 37:24).

Harassed and helpless is the picture of people perplexed, oppressed and troubled by the impossible obligations of
current Judaism, confused by the contradictory claims of the various theological debating societies that left them
groaning under the weight of restraints and duties of "religion."

But had they no shepherds?  Yes, the had HUNDREDS of them.  Historically, they had some good ones as well.  
Moses, the prophets and many righteous men had ministered to Israel.  They were shepherds that had nothing to
offer the common people longing for the truth.  The Scribes and Pharisees, the Sadducees and priests, who should
have been giving men strength to live, were bewildering men with subtle arguments about the Law, which had no
help and comfort in them.  These orthodox teachers had neither guidance, comfort nor strength to give.  When they
should have been helping men to stand upright, they were bowing them down under the intolerable burden of the
Scribal Law.

Matthew 9:37 then saith he unto His disciples, the harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few.  Even
though these men have been with Jesus as personal companions for considerable time,still Jesus does not presume
to command them to take up this task upon which the success of His whole mission to earth depends.  In His wisdom
He involves first their conscience in a moral decision that something must be done about this great need.

The harvest, for Jesus, means that the prime moment to begin the work of proclaiming God's kingdom has arrived
(John 4:35), and that this work involves telling people in no uncertain terms what God's judgment means.

Matthew 9:38 Pray ye therefore.  Not only must these men share Jesus' vision; they must share also His prayers.  
Instead of merely lamenting the deplorable condition of Israel as scattered, harassed sheep or as a harvest too
great for the number of available workers, Jesus' first response is to engage God-fearing men in PRAYER.

It is the dream of Christ that every man should be a missionary and a reaper.  There are those who cannot do other
than pray, for life has laid them helpless, and their prayers are indeed the strength of the laborers.  But that is not
the way for most of us, for those of us who have the strength of body and health of mind.  Not even the giving of our
money is enough.  If the harvest of men is ever to be reaped, then every one of us must be a reaper, for there is
someone whom each of us could and must bring to God.
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