The Scriptorium

Laborers for the Harvest

Jesus is the Shepherd-Farmer. Matthew 9.35-38 

Matthew 9: Enlarging the Harvest (6)

Pray Psalm 28.1, 2.
To You I will cry, O Lord my Rock:
Do not be silent to me,
Lest, if You are silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
Hear the voice of my supplications
When I cry to You,
When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.

Sing Psalm 28.1, 2.
(Angel’s Story: O Jesus, I Have Promised)
I cry to You, our Savior, O, be not deaf to me!
Lord, speak to me with favor, lest I should dying be.
Hear now my supplications when for Your help I cry;
receive these, my oblations, before Your throne on high.

Read Matthew 9.1-38; meditate on verses 35-38.

1. What two metaphors does Matthew employ in these verses? How is each appropriate?

2. What did Jesus say about the harvest?

Writers are always admonished not to mix their metaphors, but Matthew violates that precept here with a metaphor of his own and one from the Lord Jesus.

Notice how aggressive Jesus was in bringing the Kingdom to the people of the land: “all the cities and villages”, “teaching” and “preaching”, “healing every sickness and disease” (v. 35). He had come for this purpose, and He was not going to waste any time. He shows us what it means to seek first the Kingdom and righteousness of God. As Jesus was sent, so He sends us (Jn. 20.21). What can we learn from these two metaphors about working our own Personal Mission Field?

Jesus worked so hard because He was so compassionate toward people. He saw them as “weary and scattered” and having no one to shepherd them to safety and health (v. 36). We are all like sheep to Jesus, and He is our Good Shepherd (Jn. 10). The image of a shepherd is one of God’s favorites in referring to Himself and His relationship to His people. Matthew applies that image to Jesus, drawing on this Old Testament trope to describe Jesus’ motive and method in ministry. As Jesus served to shepherd the Lord’s flock, so also must we.

Then Matthew records Jesus’ own words regarding this situation. Jesus saw a great harvest of souls to be gathered into the Lord’s barn (vv. 37, 38). There was more work here than He and the disciples together could accomplish. The harvest is always plentiful, and there are never enough people willing to go among the lost like Jesus did, doing good and sharing Good News. We need more laborers for the harvest, so let us ask the Lord to send such laborers – literally, to “thrust them out” – who will follow Jesus’ example in gathering the Lord’s harvest and flock.

And as we pray, let us pray that God would use us, in our own part of His field, to care for His sheep and reap the plentiful harvest that is even now ready to be gathered.

1. What is involved in being a shepherd to someone else?

2. Is the harvest still “plentiful” today? How do you know?

3. What can you do to be a more consistent shepherd and laborer for the harvest?

Clearly the Lord has pity on these people held in the sway of an unclean spirit and burdened by the law, because no shepherd was about to restore to them the guardianship of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of this gift was indeed potentially abundant but not yet harvested by anyone. The bounty of the Spirit overwhelms the multitude of those who take hold of it. For no matter how much it is gathered by everyone, it abounds in fruitfulness.
Hilary of Poitiers (315-367), On Matthew 10.2

Today, Lord, use me as shepherd and harvester as I…

Pray Psalm 28.6-9.
Praise Jesus, our Good Shepherd, and seek His strength, help, and protection for the work of the harvest today.

Sing Psalm 28.6-9.
Psalm 28.6-9 (Angel’s Story: O Jesus, I Have Promised)
Blessed be the Name of Jesus, for He will hear our prayer.
His strength protects and shields us with mercy and with care.
In You our heart rejoices; You help us by Your Word.
To You we raise our voices to praise and thank You, Lord.

Our strength are You, O Savior, our strong defense and sure.
Anointed with Your favor, we rest in You secure.
Save us, and bless us, Jesus, upon us turn Your face;
With shepherd’s care, Lord, keep us forever in Your grace.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore