Matthew 9:38

Jesus is moved with compassion at the sight of the multitude. There is always something pathetic in such a sight. The needs of the people made it especially so for Christ. To him the people are of deepest interest. His heart goes out, not to favourites, not to a few select, refined, or saintly souls, but to the multitude. As he gazes at the great moving mass of humanity, it calls up to his mind two images. First, it seems like a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Then it appears as a harvest-field waiting for the reapers.


1. The sheep are without a shepherd. There were official teachers, men trained in the Law and appointed to instruct the ignorant. But these men were not true pastors. They were well meaning, many of them. But they had no charm wherewith to draw the people; they did not know the green pastures and the still waters. Therefore Jesus found the people shepherdless. Without Christ the world is lost. No human leader is sufficient for its needs.

2. The sheep are distressed. They are trained to follow their leader. He knows where the best pasturage is; he can protect the helpless creatures from danger. Men and women need firm guidance, spiritual pasturage, and heavenly protection. We cannot go as solitary pilgrims dependent on our own resources.

3. The sheep are scattered. They were not drawn together by the voice of a trusted shepherd. So they wandered foolishly and aimlessly. The world without Christ is disunited. In thought and conduct men wander from one another, and the social bond is broken when the Divine bond is disregarded.

4. The sheep need a shepherd. Jesus saw the need, and he came to supply it. Later in his ministry he proclaimed himself as the good Shepherd (John 10:11). Moreover, he expects his ministers to be first of all pastors to the people, feeding his sheep (John 21:17).

II. THE GLORIOUS PROSPECT OF THE HARVEST. The image changes. Instead of a scattered flock of bleating sheep spread over the hillside, we see waving fields of corn, ripe for the harvest, only needing the reapers to gather in its golden wealth.

1. There is a harvest in the world. This is a cheering thought. Regarded from one point of view, men are like sheep - their need is great; looked at from another standpoint, they are indeed a harvest-field with boundless possibilities. When the industry of China, the speculation of India, the endurance of Africa, are won to Christ, and when the boundless energy of the West is all gathered into his garner, great will be the wealth of the kingdom of heaven. The world is worth winning for Christ. He counts his wealth by the souls he possesses.

2. The harvest is plenteous.

(1) It covers a vast area. The greater part of the world is not yet Christian.

(2) It includes a multitude of souls. Christ has not come to save a few; he aims at the plenteous harvest of many souls.

(3) It contains many forms of good. There is great wealth in this harvest-field of the world. Christ would have the heroism, the industry, the art, the literature, of the world gathered into his kingdom.

3. Many labourers are needed. Jesus was the Sower (Matthew 13:3). His disciples are the reapers. Never was so large a harvest-field open for the sickle as in our own day; never were so many labourers needed. The great want of the world is apostolic missionaries, men and women with the spirit of Christ in them. - W.F.A.

Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest.
1. How closely connected the spiritual commission of the apostles was with deep sympathy for the physical wants of humanity.

2. That it is the Lord of the harvest who has power to send forth labourers into His harvest. We rely too much on our own agencies.

3. The strong expression of constraint which the Lord here uses — "that He may cast out." It has been so with the more eminent saints at all times.

(S. Leathes, D. D.)

I. THE FIELD is the world.

1. It is precious, in the very fact that it is a harvest-field. Men are the fruit for the sake of which the world was made.

2. It is plenteous.




3. It is ripe.

4. It is perishing.


1. All who try to win souls are in His eye as reapers gathering the wheat into the garner. Labourers are not a high class of functionaries, and need not expect to get all their own will as to the times and places of their toils.

2. In the judgment of our Lord labourers are few. His heart is so enlarged toward a lost world that He will complain, Few are coming. Few, in proportion to the world's need — a contrast to the multitude pressing to the natural harvest.

3. When additional labourers enter the field, they are sent into it by the Lord of the harvest. They are grasped by the Providential hand of God.

4. The Lord of the harvest presses labourers into the field in answer to the prayers of His people.

(W. Arnot.)

The pressure has slackened of late; but a few years ago you might have seen, any day about the beginning of autumn, dense crowds of Irish labourers clustering like bees about the wharves of Liverpool and Glasgow. On one occasion the master of a Londonderry steamer, on arriving at Glasgow, was prosecuted for admitting a much greater number of passengers than his ship was legally entitled to carry. His defence was that the men rushed on board in spite of his efforts to prevent them, and took forcible possession of the deck. Such were the numbers that poured into the Scottish harvest-fields at that time, and such the eagerness of each man to get a share of the work and the reward.

(W. Arnot.)

Exercise is provided for the spiritual life. None shall be able to say that the field was too distant, and that lie consequently had not an opportunity of rendering service as a reaper. A man cannot sit at meals in his own family, walk along the streets, or pursue his daily toil on the farm or in the workshop, without passing along this laden harvest-field. Everywhere precious fruit, ready to perish, offers itself to the reaper's hand.

(W. Arnot.)


1. Christ was the great Teacher — "Teaching in their synagogues," etc.

2. Christ was the great Physician — "and healing every sickness."

II. CHRIST DISPLAYED THE TENDEREST SYMPATHY WHILE EVANGELIZING THE WORLD. The spirit in which Christ did His work, almost as important as the work itself.

1. Christ was deeply affected by the spiritual depression of the people — "they fainted."

2. Christ was deeply affected at the spiritual destitution of the people — "were scattered abroad."


1. Christ indicated the right spirit for the work — "Pray ye."

2. Christ indicated the right men for the work — "Labourers in His harvest," etc.

(J. T. Woodhouse.)

I. OUR LORD STATES THE CASE. The people who gathered round Him He likened to harvest-fields: wherein lay the similarity?

1. The thought of multitude rises naturally from the sight of a harvest-field. You cannot count the ears of corn, neither will you be able to count the sons of men.

2. The second idea was that of value. He did not speak of blades of grass, but ears of corn. The souls of men precious in the sight of God.

3. The idea of danger. Fear lest it should perish.

4. Accessible. Multitudes are near at hand.

5. Immediate need.

II. THE SERVICE NEEDED. Labourers are wanted. We must not despise instrumentalities. God could do without them, but does not.

1. They must be labourers. Idler no use.

2. They must go down into flee wheat.

3. He cuts right through. Delicate words useless. The preacher must not file off the edge of his scythe for fear it should hurt somebody.

4. He binds it together.


1. Pray ye.

2. Pray ye therefore.

3. Pray to the Lord.

IV. THE LORD JESUS HEARD THEIR PRAYERS. "And when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, he gave them power," etc.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

David, Jesus, John, Matthew
Beseech, Entreat, Field, Fields, Forth, Grain, Grain-fields, Harvest, Laborers, Labourers, Owner, Prayer, Reapers, Supplicate, Workers, Workmen
1. Jesus heals a paralytic
9. calls Matthew from the receipt of custom;
10. eats with tax collectors and sinners;
14. defends his disciples for not fasting;
20. cures the sick woman;
23. raises Jairus' daughter from death;
27. gives sight to two blind men;
32. heals a mute man possessed of a demon;
36. and has compassion on the multitude.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Matthew 9:35-38

     7760   preachers, responsibilities

Matthew 9:37-38

     4412   binding corn

June 26. "When He Saw the Multitudes He was Moved" (Matt. Ix. 36).
"When He saw the multitudes He was moved" (Matt. ix. 36). He is able to be "touched with the feeling of our infirmities." The word "touched" expresses a great deal. It means that our troubles are His troubles, and that in all our afflictions He is afflicted. It is not a sympathy of sentiment, but a sympathy of suffering. There is much help in this for the tired heart. It is the foundation of His Priesthood, and God meant that it should be to us a source of unceasing consolation. Let us realize, more
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

Christ's Encouragements
'Son, be of good cheer.'--MATT. ix. 2. This word of encouragement, which exhorts to both cheerfulness and courage, is often upon Christ's lips. It is only once employed in the Gospels by any other than He. If we throw together the various instances in which He thus speaks, we may get a somewhat striking view of the hindrances to such a temper of bold, buoyant cheerfulness which the world presents, and of the means for securing it which Christ provides. But before I consider these individually, let
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

A Christlike Judgment of Men
'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.' --MATT. ix. 36. In the course of our Lord's wandering life of teaching and healing, there had naturally gathered around Him a large number of persons who followed Him from place to place, and we have here cast into a symbol the impression produced upon Him by their outward condition. That is to say, He sees them lying there weary, and footsore, and
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Soul-Healing First: Body-Healing Second
'That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins (then saith He to the sick of the palsy), Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.'--MATT. ix. 6. The great example of our Lord's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is followed, in this and the preceding chapter, by a similar collection of His works of healing. These are divided into three groups, each consisting of three members. This miracle is the last of the second triad, of which the other two members are the
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Touch of Faith and the Touch of Christ
'While He spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped Him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay Thy hand upon her, and she shall live. 19. And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did His disciples. 20. And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment: 21. For she said within herself, If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole. 22. But Jesus turned Him about,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Call of Matthew
'And as Jesus passed forth from thence, He saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He saith unto him, Follow Me. And he arose, and followed Him. 10. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 12. But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Compassion of Jesus
THIS is said of Christ Jesus several times in the New Testament. The original word is a very remarkable one. It is not found in classic Greek. It is not found in the Septuagint. The fact is, it was a word coined by the evangelists themselves. They did not find one in the whole Greek language that suited their purpose, and therefore they had to make one. It is expressive of the deepest emotion; a striving of the bowels--a yearning of the innermost nature with pity. As the dictionaries tell us-- Ex
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 60: 1914

Eleventh Day for More Labourers
WHAT TO PRAY.--For more Labourers "Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that He send forth labourers into His harvest."--MATT. ix. 38. What a remarkable call of the Lord Jesus for help from His disciples in getting the need supplied. What an honour put upon prayer. What a proof that God wants prayer and will hear it. Pray for labourers, for all students in theological seminaries, training homes, Bible institutes, that they may not go, unless He fits them and sends them forth; that our churches may
Andrew Murray—The Ministry of Intercession

Dread of Ridicule.
24th Sunday after Trinity. S. Matt. ix. 24. "And they laughed Him to scorn." INTRODUCTION.--"All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim. iii. 12.) This is what S. Paul says. This is what everyone of you must make up your mind to, if you intend to live godly lives, and, moreover, to live in Christ. Do you know what that meant to the early Christians? It meant that if they were going to be firm in their faith, live up to their profession, and eschew evil, they should
S. Baring-Gould—The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent

Evil Thoughts.
19th Sunday after Trinity. S. Matt. ix. 4. "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?" INTRODUCTION.--Thoughts are only thoughts! who is to beheld accountable for them? They are clouds blown about by fancy, taking various shapes. God is not so hard as to judge us for our thoughts; He will try us by what we have done, not by what we have dreamed. No garden is without weeds; there are tares in every cornfield. Who speak thus? Is it those who are conscientious and scrupulous to drive away evil thoughts?
S. Baring-Gould—The Village Pulpit, Volume II. Trinity to Advent

Civilized Barbarism (Preached for the Bishop of London's Fund, at St. John's Church, Notting Hill, June 1866. )
ST. MATTHEW ix. 12. They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. I have been honoured by an invitation to preach on behalf of the Bishop of London's Fund for providing for the spiritual wants of this metropolis. By the bishop, and a large number of landowners, employers of labour, and others who were aware of the increasing heathendom of the richest and happiest city of the world, it was agreed that, if possible, a million sterling should be raised during the next ten years,
Charles Kingsley—The Water of Life and Other Sermons

The Physician's Calling (Preached at Whitehall for St. George's Hospital. )
ST. MATTHEW ix. 35. And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. The Gospels speak of disease and death in a very simple and human tone. They regard them in theory, as all are forced to regard them in fact, as sore and sad evils. The Gospels never speak of disease or death as necessities; never as the will of God. It is Satan, not God, who binds the woman with
Charles Kingsley—The Water of Life and Other Sermons

Of the Words Themselves in General.
We come now to the words themselves, wherein Christ asserts that he is, 1, "the way;" 2, "the truth;" 3, "the life;" and, 4, "that no man cometh to the Father but by him." In them we learn these two things in general. First, The misery of wretched man by nature. This cannot be in a few words expressed. These words will point out those particulars thereof, which we will but mention. 1. That he is born an enemy to, and living at a distance from God, by virtue of the curse of the broken covenant of
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life

IF NOT GOD--NOT GOOD BY I. M. HALDEMAN, D.D. "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God" (Matthew 9:17). THE world has accepted Jesus Christ as a good man. The evidences of his goodness are manifold. He was full of compassion. He never looked upon the people as a crowd. He never thought of them as a mass. He saw them always as individuals. His heart went out to them. All his impulses were to pity them, sympathize with, and help them. He went among them. He entered into
I. M. Haldeman—Christ, Christianity and the Bible

Concerted Prayer
"A tourist, in climbing an Alpine summit, finds himself tied by a strong rope to his trusty guide, and to three of his fellow-tourists. As they skirt a perilous precipice he cannot pray, Lord, hold up my goings in a safe path, that my footsteps slip not, but as to my guide and companions, they must look out for themselves.' The only proper prayer in such a case is, Lord, hold up our goings in a safe path; for if one slips all of us may perish.'"--H. Clay Trumbull The pious Quesnel says that "God
Edward M. Bounds—The Essentials of Prayer

Combination Illustrated.
To illustrate our method of combination, let us take Section 36, which is a fitting together of the following passages, namely: 9 And as Jesus passed by from thence, he saw a man, called Matthew, sitting at the place of toll: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.--Matt. ix. 9. 13 And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphæus sitting at the place of toll,
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Call of Matthew.
(at or Near Capernaum.) ^A Matt. IX. 9; ^B Mark II. 13, 14; ^C Luke V. 27, 28. ^c 27 And after these thingsa [after the healing of the paralytic] he went forth, ^a again by the seaside [i. e., he left Capernaum, and sought the shore of the sea, which formed a convenient auditorium for him, and which was hence a favorite scene for his teaching]; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. 14 And as he ^a Jesus passed by from thence, he saw ^c and beheld ^a a man, ^c a publican, named
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Matthew's Feast. Discourse on Fasting.
(Capernaum.) ^A Matt. IX. 10-17; ^B Mark II. 15-22; ^C Luke V. 29-39. ^c 29 And Levi [another name for the apostle Matthew] made him a great feast in his house: ^b 15 And it came to pass, that he was sitting { ^a as he sat} at meat in the { ^b his} ^a house, ^c and there was a great multitude of publicans [Matthew had invited his old friends] and of others ^b and ^a behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. ^b for there were many, ^c that were sitting at meat
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jairus' Daughter and the Invalid Woman.
(Capernaum, Same Day as Last.) ^A Matt. IX. 18-26; ^B Mark V. 22-43; ^C Luke VIII. 41-56. ^c 41 And ^a 18 While he spake these things unto them [while he talked about fasting at Matthew's table], behold, there came, { ^b cometh} ^c a man named Jairus, { ^b Jairus by name;} ^c and he was a ruler { ^b one of the rulers} of the synagogue [He was one of the board of elders which governed the synagogue at Capernaum. These elders were not necessarily old men--Matt. xix. 16-22; Luke xviii. 18-23], and seeing
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Jesus Heals a Paralytic at Capernaum.
^A Matt. IX. 2-8; ^B Mark II. 1-12; ^C Luke V. 17-26. ^c 17 And it came to pass on one of those days, ^b when he entered again into Capernaum after some days, ^c that he was teaching; ^b it was noised that he was in the house. [Luke uses the general expression "those days," referring to the early portion of our Lord's ministry in Galilee. Mark says, "some days," which implies the lapse of a considerable interval. The healing of the leper created such excitement that for some time, several weeks,
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Lix. Healing Blind Men and a Dumb Demoniac.
(Probably Capernaum.) ^A Matt. IX. 27-34. ^a 27 And as Jesus passed by from thence [If construed strictly, this phrase means, as he departed from Jairus' house. But the phrase is indefinite], two blind men followed him, crying out, and saying, Have mercy on us, thou son of David. [This, among the Jews, was a common and thoroughly recognized name for the expected Messiah.] 28 And when he was come into the house [possibly Peter's. But the place is not important. The house is mentioned to show that
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Third Circuit of Galilee. The Twelve Instructed and Sent Forth.
^A Matt. IX. 35-38; X. 1, 5-42; XI. 1; ^B Mark VI. 6-13; ^C Luke IX. 1-6. ^b 6 And he ^a Jesus ^b went about ^a all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner sickness and all manner of sickness. [In the first circuit of Galilee some of the twelve accompanied Jesus as disciples (see [3]Section XXXIII.); in the second the twelve were with him as apostles; in the third they, too, are sent forth as evangelists to supplement
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Return to Capernaum - Concerning the Forgiveness of Sins - the Healing of the Paralysed
It is a remarkable instance of the reserve of the Gospel-narratives, that of the second journey of Jesus in Galilee no other special event is recorded than the healing of the leper. And it seems also to indicate, that this one miracle had been so selected for a special purpose. But if, as we have suggested, after the Unknown Feast,' the activity of Jesus assumed a new and what, for want of a better name, may be called an anti-Judaic character, we can perceive the reason of it. The healing of leprosy
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The Healing of the Woman - Christ's Personal Appearance - the Raising of Jairus' Daughter
THERE seems remarkable correspondence between the two miracles which Jesus had wrought on leaving Capernaum and those which He did on His return. In one sense they are complementary to each other. The stilling of the storm and the healing of the demonised were manifestations of the absolute power inherent in Christ; the recovery of the woman and the raising of Jairus' daughter, evidence of the absolute efficacy of faith. The unlikeliness of dominion over the storm, and of command over a legion of
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

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