Matthew 9:38
Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(38) The Lord of the harvest—i.e., the Father who had sent Him to be the Sower of the divine seed, and who, through Him, was about to send forth the labourers.

9:35-38 Jesus visited not only the great and wealthy cities, but the poor, obscure villages; and there he preached, there he healed. The souls of the meanest in the world are as precious to Christ, and should be so to us, as the souls of those who make the greatest figure. There were priests, Levites, and scribes, all over the land; but they were idol shepherds, Zec 11:17; therefore Christ had compassion on the people as sheep scattered, as men perishing for lack of knowledge. To this day vast multitudes are as sheep not having a shepherd, and we should have compassion and do all we can to help them. The multitudes desirous of spiritual instruction formed a plenteous harvest, needing many active labourers; but few deserved that character. Christ is the Lord of the harvest. Let us pray that many may be raised up and sent forth, who will labour in bringing souls to Christ. It is a sign that God is about to bestow some special mercy upon a people, when he stirs them up to pray for it. And commissions given to labourers in answer to prayer, are most likely to be successful.The harvest truly is plenteous ... - Another beautiful image. A waving field of golden grain invites many reapers and demands haste. By the reference to the harvest here, he meant that the multitude of people that flocked to his ministry was great. The people expected the Messiah. They were prepared to receive the gospel; but the laborers were few. He directed them, therefore, to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth reapers. God is the proprietor of the great harvest of the world, and he only can send people to gather it in.

Remarks On Matthew 9

1. We are presented with an instance of proper perseverance in coming to Christ, Matthew 9:1-2. Nothing was suffered to prevent the purpose of presenting the helpless paralytic to the Saviour. So the poor helpless sinner should come. No obstacle should prevent him. He should lay himself at his feet, and feel that Jesus holds over him the power of life and death, and that no other being can save.

2. Jesus has the power to forgive sins, Matthew 9:6. He claimed it, and worked a miracle to prove it. If he had it then, he has it still. To him, then, the lost sinner may come with the assurance that as he freely "then" exerted that power, so he is ever the same, and will do it now.

3. Jesus Christ is divine. Nothing could prove it more clearly than the power to pardon sinners. Only God can pronounce what shall be done with transgressors of His law, Isaiah 43:25. He that claims this right must be either an impostor or God. But no impostor ever yet worked a real miracle. Jesus was therefore divine. He can save to the uttermost all who come to God through him.

4. We see here the proper rule to be observed in mingling with the wicked, Matthew 9:10-13. It should not be of choice or for pleasure. We should not enter into their follies or vices. We should not seek enjoyment in their society. We should mingle with them simply to transact necessary business and to do them good, and no further, Psalm 1:1.

5. In the case of the ruler and the woman that was diseased, we have a strong instance of the nature of faith. They came not doubting the power of Jesus - fully assured that he was able to heal. So all genuine believers come to him. They do not doubt his power or willingness to save them. Poor, and lost, and ruined by sin, and in danger of eternal death, they come. His heart is open. He puts forth his power, and the soul is healed, and the sin and danger gone.

6. The young must die, and may die in early life, Matthew 9:18. Very short graves are in every burying-ground. Thousands and millions, not more than twelve years of age, have died. Thousands and millions, not more than twelve years of age, are yet to die. Many of these may be taken from Sunday schools. Their class, their teacher - their parents, sisters, brothers - must be left, and the child be carried to the grave. Many children of that age that have been in Sunday schools have died happy. They loved the Saviour, and they were ready to go to him. Jesus was near to them when they died, and they are now in heaven. Of every child we may ask, Are you ready also to go when God shall call you? Do you love the Lord Jesus, so as to be willing to leave all your friends here and go to him?

7. Jesus can raise up the dead, and he will raise up all that love him, Matthew 9:25. Many little children will be raised up to meet him in the last great day. He shall come in the clouds. The angel shall sound a trumpet, and all the dead shall hear. All shall be raised up and go to meet him. All that loved him here will go to heaven. All who were wicked, and did not love him here, will go to everlasting suffering.

8. We see the duty of praying for the conversion of the world, Matthew 9:37-38. The harvest is as plenteous as it was in the time of Christ. More than 600 million are still without the gospel, and there are not still many laborers to go into the harvest. The world is full of wickedness, and only God can qualify those who shall go and preach the gospel to the dark nations of the earth. Without ceasing we ought to entreat of God to pity the nations, and to send to them faithful people who shall tell them of a dying Saviour.

38. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest—the great Lord and Proprietor of all. Compare Joh 15:1, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman."

that he will send forth labourers into his harvest—The word properly means "thrust forth"; but this emphatic sense disappears in some places, as in Mt 9:25, and Joh 10:4—"When He putteth forth His own sheep." (See on [1250]Mt 4:1).

Ver. 37,38. The plain sense of these two verses is this: John the Baptist and Christ had now been preaching for some time, God inclined the hearts of great multitudes to follow both the one and the other; there was a great people prepared for the Lord: Matthew 11:12, From the days of John the Baptist, the kingdom of heaven had suffered violence, and the violent took it by force; men were exceeding fond of hearing the gospel.

The fields were white to the harvest, as our Saviour expresses it, John 4:35. But there were few that would faithfully deliver the mind of God; there were abundance of idle Pharisees, and scribes, and priests, that spent their time in teaching people their rites, and ceremonies, and traditions, but the labourers were few; such must be God’s gift to the people, and they must be thrust out. No arguments will be sufficient to persuade men to the weighty work of the ministry, with an intention to fulfil it, but the power of God inclining their hearts to it. You had need therefore pray unto God that he would send, nay, that he would ekbalh, thrust out, labourers into his harvest.

1. The inclination and desire of multitudes to hear Divine truth is God’s harvest.

2. Ministers’ work is a labour, Galatians 4:11 Philippians 4:3 1 Timothy 5:17; if rightly discharged, it must be with labour.

3. God is the Lord of the harvest; ministers ought to look upon him as so.

4. None ought to thrust themselves into the work of the ministry, till God thrust them out, Hebrews 5:4.

5. There always were but a few labourers in God’s harvest. Hence Chrysostom thought that but a few ministers would be saved.

Our Saviour in this chapter prefaces his work of which we shall discourse in the next chapter, viz. his sending forth his twelve apostles. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest,.... By "the Lord of the harvest" is either meant God the Father, whose are all the elect, who has a hearty concern for them, and will have them all gathered in, not one of them shall be left; or the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who has the care and charge of the whole election of grace; and who as he must, he will bring them all in; and who has power of sending forth labourers, as the following chapter shows; and so this is a proof of prayer being made to Christ;

that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. This is the petition the disciples of Christ were put upon making to the Lord of the harvest, on consideration of the present condition multitudes of souls were in: they could not make, qualify, and send out ministers themselves; this is not man's work, but God's: he only is able to furnish with ministerial gifts, to work upon, and powerfully incline the hearts of men to this service, to call and send them forth into it, and to assist and succeed them in it. The persons desired to be sent are "labourers"; faithful, diligent, and industrious preachers of the Gospel; such as lay out themselves, their time, talents, and strength, in their master's service; and do not indulge themselves in sloth and idleness: the place they are desired to be sent into is, "into the harvest"; into the field of the world, where God's elect lie, and there labour in preaching the Gospel; hoping for a divine blessing, and an almighty power to attend their ministrations, for the conversion of sinners, and edification of saints. The request the disciples are directed to make, concerning these persons for this work, is, that the Lord of the harvest would "send", or "thrust" them "forth"; implying power and efficacy, and authority, on the part of the sender; and backwardness on the part of those that are sent, through modesty: a sense of the greatness of the work, and of their own unworthiness and unfitness for it. Very opportunely did our Lord move his disciples to put up this petition, and was done, no question, with a view to, and to prepare for, his mission of the twelve to preach the Gospel, of which there is an account in the next chapter.

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

(i) Literally, cast them out: for men are very slow in a work so holy.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
38. send forth] The original word is more forcible, implying a strong impulse; it is used Mark 1:12. “The spirit driveth him into the wilderness;” and frequently of casting out evil spirits, also of casting into outer darkness (ch. Matthew 25:30).Matthew 9:38. Δεήθητε, pray ye) See of how great value prayers are. The Lord of the harvest Himself wishes Himself to be moved by them. More blessings, without doubt, would accrue to the human race, if more men would, on men’s behalf,[437] meet the ever ready will of GOD. See Gnomon on 1 Timothy 2:3. The reaping and sowing is for our advantage. The Lord Himself exhorts us to entreat Him. He prevents us, that He may teach us to prevent Him.[438] (Cf. John 16:5.) And forthwith, whilst He is commanding us to pray, He implants the desire, to which it is He too that hearkens. See ch. Matthew 10:1. These same persons who are commanded to pray [for labourers], are presently appointed labourers themselves (ibid.)—Κυρίου, the Lord) see ch. Matthew 10:1, Matthew 13:37. Christ is the Lord of the harvest.—ὄπως ἐκβάλλῃ,[439] to send forth) ἐκβάλλειν[440] does not always imply force, as it does in Matthew 9:33.

[437] Those who are nearer to God praying in behalf of those who are further removed from Him.—V. g.

[438] Prevent is here used in the old Engl. sense of anticipate, be before another in doing a thing; as in the Book of Common Prayer, “Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favour.” God would have us also, as it were, prevent Him, or be the first to ask those things, which He really knoweth and willeth to give us before we either desire or ask them, Isaiah 41:21; Isaiah 43:26.—ED.

[439] E. M. ἐκβάλῃ.—(I. B.)

[440] See Author’s Preface. Sect. xiv. and footnotes.—(I. B.)Verse 38. - Pray ye. Express it as your personal need (δεήθητε, here only in the New Testament outside the writings of St. Luke and St. Paul). Therefore. Since more workers are so greatly needed. The Lord of the harvest; cf. Clem. Romans, § 34, who illustrates the thought by a most interesting composite quotation of Isaiah 40:10 (Isaiah 62:11; Proverbs 24:12)and Revelation 22:12. That he will (omit with the Revised Version) send forth. (Ὅπως ἐκβάλῃ; ut ejieiat, Vulgate [Wordsworth and White], ut mittat, Vulgate [ordinary edition].) The verb suggests alike his constraining power and their separation from their previous position (cf. Matthew 7:4). Mr. J. A. Robinson's note, however, in the Cambridge 'Texts and Studies,' I. 3:124, shows that one must not lay much stress on the thought of constraint. Labourers into his harvest.



Send forth (ἐκβάλῃ)

So A. V. and Rev. But the word is stronger: thrust out, force them out, as from urgent necessity.

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