Laborers for the Harvest


TABLETALK DEVOTIONS WITH RC SPROUL

Laborers for the Harvest
========================
Matthew 9:35–38 “He said to his
disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the
laborers are few; therefore
pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send
out laborers into his
harvest’” (vv. 37–38).

Any observant Jew in the first century should be
able to look at the
circumstances of Jesus’ life and see Him as a new Moses
due to the remarkable
similarities between the two men. As we have seen, for
example, an evil king
tried to eliminate both Jesus and Moses (Ex. 1:8–2:10;
Matt. 2:16–18).
Likewise, both men give God’s law from a mountain (Ex.
32:15–20; Matt. 5–7).
Such parallels should be too much for anyone to label
mere coincidences. They
reveal that our Lord will be a covenant mediator just
as Moses himself was.

Lest anyone miss God’s providential ordering of
Moses’ life to match the life
of Jesus, the Holy Spirit has also inspired
Matthew to depict Jesus as a new
Moses in his gospel’s structure. Matthew
groups the teaching of Christ into
five major discourses (5–7; 10; 13; 18;
24–25) just as Moses gave us five
books of the Bible — Genesis through
Deuteronomy. This helps us see the
parallels between Moses and Jesus more
clearly than if Matthew had outlined
his gospel differently.

Matthew
introduced the first major discourse of Jesus with a short summary of
His
mission in Galilee (4:23), and in today’s passage He sets up the
second
discourse with a similar overview (9:35). This second discourse highlights the
mission of the twelve apostles during Christ’s earthly
ministry, a mission
that has application for His entire church as well. These
missionaries need to
be sent out because the leaders of Israel have not
learned their lesson after
centuries of the Lord’s discipline under the heel
of Rome and other foreign
powers. As in the days of Ezekiel, the shepherds of
the Lord’s flock continue
to fail to guide Israel in mercy and righteousness
(v. 36; see Ezek. 34:1–10).
However, all is not lost; with Jesus, the Father
is keeping His promise to
care for His sheep. As Ezekiel predicted, the
Messiah has come to gather God’s
saints into the fold (vv.
11–24).

Christ, the Good Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (1 Peter
2:25), has
enlisted many to help care for His flock and field, as we also see
in today’s
passage (Matt. 9:37–38). Clearly, says Jerome, “an abundant
harvest represents
all the believing multitude. The few laborers imply the
apostles and their
imitators who are sent to the harvest” (Commentary on
Matthew, 1.9.37).

Coram deo: Living before the face of
God
========================================
Our study of Matthew 10 will
look at some ways we all can be involved in the
shepherding work of Christ.
For now, we must observe Jesus’ command to pray
for harvest workers (Matt.
9:38), a prayer the Lord uses to save His people.
John MacArthur writes that
“believers’ prayers participate in the fulfillment
of God’s plans” (The
MacArthur Bible Commentary, p. 1,140), and so we must go
before the Lord
diligently and ask Him to raise up workers in His field.

For further
study:

1 Chronicles 11:1–3

The Bible in a year:

1 Samuel
24–26

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