The Gospel of Matthew: Prayer for the Harvest and the Laborers.

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35–38 (ESV)

Matthew summarized in today’s text the teaching, preaching and healing ministry of Jesus Christ (Matt. 5-9). The apostle also introduced the mission discourse of Matthew 10.

“Matthew tends to arrange the information about Jesus’ life topically. Chapters 5–7, for instance, collect Christ’s teachings about His own authority. In like manner, the evangelist devotes chapters 8–9 to material that depicts Jesus’ authority apart from His actual instruction on the subject. Instead, Matthew focuses on miracles that illustrate the Savior’s control over the natural (8:1–27; 9:18–31) and the supernatural (8:28–34; 9:32–34),” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.

Jesus then saw the need of the people. He called them a spiritual harvest. But a harvest needs harvesters. It needs laborers. Jesus’ disciples would have understood this image because Israel was an agricultural nation. It remains so today.

Jesus’ observation was particularly striking. He said, “Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  

The crowds were vast. Therefore, Jesus prepared his disciples to become shepherds and laborers with Him. Yet, instead of calling for volunteers Jesus called for prayer.

I recently taught a class on evangelism at my church. One of the lessons focused on the necessity of prayer as a prerequisite to sharing the Gospel. God calls the church to pray for lost souls (I Timothy 2:1-3). However, as today’s text teaches, God also calls individuals to pray for those who will share the Gospel to those lost souls. Prayer is indispensable.

Praying for the souls of the harvest, and laborers for the task of harvesting souls, is completely dependent upon the sovereignty of God. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone to the glory of God alone.

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:5–9 (ESV)

Pray today for those lost in their trespasses’ and sins. Pray also for laborers into the Lord’s, harvest. May the Lord be glorified as He answers our prayers.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

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