The Harvest Is Plentiful, The Laborers Few | Matthew 9:35-10:15 (Mville)
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 9:35–10:15
Mission of the King - The Book of Matthew Pt. 2
Wk5: Laborers for the King - Matthew 9:35-10:15
Good Morning! We are continuing to preach through the book of Matthew, the gospel account
of Jesus as the Savoir-King of God’s people. We are in Part 2 (Chapters 8-13) the Mission of
the King. Since launching his public ministry back in the end of chapter 4, Jesus ministry has
been defined by teaching the values of God’s kingdom, preaching repentance of sin and calling
people to the kingdom, and actively living out the kingdom through healing. While these are all
awesome, Jesus is more than simply a good teacher, a great preacher, and miraculous healer.
He is the great savior and king of God’s people. Jesus is God in the flesh. While on earth, the
physical scope of Jesus ministry was limited to where he was, Jesus knows his mission is
bigger than where he immediately is. There are many hurting and lost people who need the
message and healing of the kingdom. As Jesus was sent from Heaven to earth on mission ,
Jesus sends those who are citizens of the kingdom to be on the same mission. As chapter 9
closes we see a summary of what motivates Jesus mission, and as we move into chapter 10 we
see Jesus commissioning men for mission, and then laying out the method of mission.
Matthew 9:35-10:15 35And 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. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were
harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The
harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38
to send out laborers into his harvest.”
10 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast
them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2The names of the twelve apostles are
these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and
John his brother; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the
son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no
town of the Samaritans,6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7And proclaim
as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse
lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.9Acquire no gold or
silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff,
for the laborer deserves his food. 11And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is
worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12As you enter the house, greet it. 13And if the house
is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14And
if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you
leave that house or town. 15Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment
for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
9:35-38 Motivation for Mission
Jesus ministry and mission to his people was and is defined by three simple yet incredibly
Teaching – In synagogues training disciples on kingdom values and what a kingdom citizen looks
Preaching – calling people to turn from sin, turn towards God because His kingdom is at hand in
Jesus. Healing – Comprehensive care and lasting relief every kind of disease and affliction.
This is the same ministry and mission he gives his disciples and gives us. This mission is
difficult and requires a deep level of selfless motivation. Compassion has to be the primary
motivation. Compassion is not worldly pity that just feels bad about a person’s situation and
does nothing. Compassion is also different than acceptance or affirmation when the affliction
people have is sin. Compassion does not affirm sin or rewards rebellion and foolishness.
Genuine compassion motivates to action and knows the only true answer to every disease,
sin, and affliction can only come from God. Compassion means seeing someone in a state or
conditions God doesn’t desire/intend for his image bearers, and loving them enough to identify
the issue and effect lasting change. This is a divine characteristic of God. By nature God is
compassionate. Jesus is God so he is compassionate. Jesus is out among the people, he is
not blind to their physical or spiritual condition. He sees them and what he sees are sheep
struggling for survival without a Shepherd.
Ezekiel 34:5-6 5So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food
for all the wild beasts. 6 My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on
every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or
seek for them.
Jesus knows without a shepherd the sheep are harassed and helpless. They are alone,
defenseless, being attacked by enemies of God and the harsh condition of the world. They
do not know how to defend themselves, they don’t know how to flee and they have to be lead
even to green pastures and water for food and refreshment. Simply, Jesus has great care and
compassion for those who cannot care for themselves. Tom Hackett from Dwellings Now said
this was the verse (v36) that motivated him to start Dwellings Now. He said you don’t have
a full understanding of poverty until you actually see it. You then have three options: Reject
those you see suffering and afflicted because you don’t want to be around it or because you
think they somehow don’t measure up to you; ignore because the problems seem so big and
overwhelming you have no ability to effect change , or engage with the people, places, and
capacity God has giving you. How do you respond when you see people who are afflicted and
don’t know Jesus?
Ezekiel 34:11-12 11
will seek them out. 12As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have
been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they
have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.
This is Jesus mission and he is inviting us to help seek His sheep. Jesus says to help harvest
His crop. This a different attitude towards the suffering and afflicted then the religious leaders
of the time. Pharisees saw the afflicted, the suffering, other Jews, and especially the Gentiles
as chaff to be discarded. They had judged them as less valuable because they didn’t meet the
Pharisees own standards. Jesus says no, there are my people out there. Seeds have been
planted, they have grown and now they are ready to come from out of the field into the silo.
Crops need workers, they are a harvest to be reaped and saved. This is the mission, to go and
gather the harvest. Not yell at weeds for being weeds but to find the grain and bring it in. Crops
need to be harvested to be of any value. Laborers don’t get to gloat about how much grain is in
the fields they didn’t plant it they didn’t water it they didn’t make it grow God does. “The Lord of
the Harvest made grow and he calls us to go out and get it.”
Jesus compassion for people leads him to instruct his disciples to pray for people. Specifically
Jesus tells the disciples to pray to God to send more laborers. Jesus doesn’t say the laborers
are few so go find just anyone. He says pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send
people, not just well go get to work, pray for more workers. You can’t do the work of the harvest
without being called and equipped by God.
Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless
the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
Prayer has to proceed calling. Many guys say they are “called by God” to do xyz but for some
reason the Holy Spirit hasn’t seen fit to let anyone else know what He has called them to do.
Calling is something most accurately happens outside of you, by others. We are to pray for
more workers. What does this look like at Damascus Road? Elders, Staff, Road group Leaders/
Hosts, volunteers, more of all are needed.
“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and
The day is short the task is great and the laborers are idle and the wage is abundant and the master of
the house is urgent. Rabi R. Tarfon.
Jesus wants us to have a sense of urgency when it comes to mission. When in Honduras we
worked harder and more intensely than many of us usually do because we knew the time was
short.... Oh wait it still is.
10:1-4 Men for Mission
Pray. Pray and act. Prayer is not the substitute for the laborers being called and sent. Jesus
had many disciples but set aside 12 specific men as apostles. The word apostolos means
they were the authoritative representative or emissary. The word would also be used of naval
expeditions as in an Admiral was an apostle (that would be pretty sweet, I am an admiral for
Jesus) Apostle is a disciple who has been given authority. The authority of who sent them has
been delegated to them so as they speak, as they act they are speaking and acting on half of
the person that sent them. This means if they come with orders it is the same as the person
sending them giving the orders.
John 12:49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself
given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.
Training Brand ambassadors pick the best to rep the brand because the effectiveness of
the message depended on how well the messenger was received or perceived. Jesus flips
this upside down an in turn these guys turned the world upside down. Jesus is all about the
Ordination of the ordinary. I heard a guy in a coffee shop say “I know God always pics the best
people for his team.” No! God does not NEED outstanding people to do his work. God picks the
ordinary and average to display His power. Some of these guys are not really that memorable.
They’re names are in the Bible yes, but what they did wasn’t important enough for us to know
more about it. God uses people who are worldly insignificant to do eternally significant work in
the lives of His people. John Calvin said “men of obscurity, and of no repute,”
Who are these guys? We know a little about half of them. Andrew and Peter are brothers as
are James and John. All of these guys are fishermen we saw Jesus call them as disciples in
Chapter 4. Matthew was a tax collector and we saw Jesus call in chapter 9. Judas we know
about him. He is infamous in the bible. Philip converts an Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8. Thomas
doubts. Bartholomew, James of Alphaesus, we don’t know much about. Thaddaeus the only
thing we know about him is his other name is “Judas son of James” nice of Matthew to list
him under his “other name”. Simon the Cananaean he was a Zealot. Zealots were extremely
political and wanted to wage an armed rebellion against Rome. I identify with Simon, because
I wanted to be involved in politics to help effect change. I was actually studying for law school,
before seeing Jesus was a greater answer to fixing the world. Jesus tells Simon “I’ll deal with
Rome.” You be on my mission. Judas – Jesus sent Judas, there were likely people who followed
Jesus because of the ministry of Judas, maybe they even experienced some healing or had
their life changed. This is where it is important who and where we place credit, loyalty, and
authority. Paul is also considered an apostle.
We don’t get a report of what they did. Attendance at their sermons, #’s of resurrections and
healings. In fact we have no idea how effective they are but we know who they represented and
we know they went. Who they were was not as important as what their mission was. Most of us
will be completely forgotten in this world in two generations.... Yet we are called and gathering
into a church for the purposes of being sent out on a great mission.
10:5-14 Method of Mission
Matthew is giving us Jesus instructions for Mission rather than the outcome of mission.
Previously Jesus had the Sermon on the Mount, from here to the end of chapter 10 is the
Sermon on the Mission. Why do we talk so much about being on mission at Damascus Road?
Because it was important to Jesus. Jesus modeled mission to these guys, and they in turn
owned the mission. Instructing actually means Jesus is giving commands like a general (or
admiral) not suggestions like a consultant, or guru. JC Ryle gives a great job description of
being a minister of the Gospel based on these verses. “He is sent to seek lost sheep, to proclaim the
good news, to relieve those who are suffering, to diminish sorrow, and to increase joy. His life is to be one
of giving rather than receiving.”
Start with the religious people. Specifically Jesus sends these guys to the Jews Jesus was
religious, Jesus was Jewish. He had a priority to reach God’s chosen people with the gospel
first. The vast majority of early converts to Christianity were in fact jewish people. Why? They
had been raised to know the God of the Bible, the one who promises to send a Messiah to save
his people. They had seeds planted in them with what we call the Old Testament. God had
prepared them like the wheat that was fully grown and ready for harvest. They are God’s people
but they are also sheep who can go astray and need to be guided back to the fold. What is the
lesson here for us? Pursue those who are close to the family of God. We have family members
who were raise in the church who don’t follow Jesus. Pursue the prodigal. Call the religious and
self-righteous, those who know the Bible but not the grace of the Gospel and invite them to the
party for the prodigal. Call those who know about Jesus but haven’t submitted their lives to his
Jesus limits the mission to the Jews here but by the end of Matthew, after his resurrection, the
mission parameters have shifted to include not only Jerusalem and Judea, but Samaria, and to
the ends of the earth. “Don’t go” turns into “go into all the world.”
Preach Jesus tells them to preach the same message John the Baptist was preaching and the
same message Jesus was preaching “Repent, the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” To the Jew
first then the Greek/gentiles. He is sending them to preach, this is their primary mission, to
harvest the crop, to seek and save the lost.
Romans 10: 11-17 11For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to
shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of
all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13For “everyone who calls on the name of the
Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how
are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without
someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How
beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” No topical sermons series a simple
message every time “Repent the kingdom of heaven is near.” Not what does the bible have to
say about what every the hip issue of the day is. They preached the kingdom of Jesus.
Heal Jesus doesn’t say how, he just says do it. That might mean you’ll need to listen and look at
those around you to see what they are actually suffering with/from. Get creative.
Trust God will provide. Gospel is Free. Don’t let money get in the way of people hearing the
Gospel. Go now, God will support you through the community. Don’t rely on your own financial
independence, press into community and be dependent. Go as you are into mission, don’t just
wait to prepare and prepare and say “I’ll start being on mission when....” Jesus says if you are
working for the Lord earnestly he will provide for you as a laborer’s wages should be.
Release, regroup, and move on when rejected. When not if. There will be people who will reject
you. They will not listen with appreciation or understanding they will reject you, the message,
and effectively they are rejecting Jesus who is God. Fruitfulness is not dependent on the
effectiveness of your method or zeal of your efforts. It is entirely dependent on God. We have
to remember faith is a gift of God from the Holy Spirit. We are not responsible for results we
are responsible to preach, to heal, to go. So your measure of how you are doing cannot be
fruitfulness. It has to be faithfulness. You can preach well, love people, do great works, heal
those around you and some will still reject you! At certain points it’s time to move on.
10:15 Motivation Pt II
People are perishing. Let’s not do everyone a disservice “Heaven is for Real.” So is hell. It is a
real place, people go there. It is not loving or compassionate to give people a false hope. There
is a day of judgment coming, pretending there is not does not change anything. Judgment is
coming for us all.
Hebrews 9:97And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment
Sodom and Gomorrah were notoriously wicked cites who actively sought to harm the
messengers of God. Jesus is not using hyperbole, he knows what he is saying. If the gospel is
rejected the consequences will be more severe for those then the consequences for Sodom and
Gomorrah. They got smoked as fire balls rained down from the sky. There was an active wrath
of God poured out on the cities or their continued sin and grievous violation of guests when they
were called to be hospitable. There is the same wrath of God in hell for those who reject Jesus.
Sin is not simply breaking God’s rules, it is rejecting God’s reign. Jesus says the Kingdom is
here in Him. Repent and enter the kingdom, or reject and be cast out. Christians believe this,
yet we function as if this was not true in how we engage people with the Gospel.
2 Peter 3:9-10 9The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient
toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10But the
day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the
heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on
it will be exposed.
Knowing this is true, we should have a deep urgency to share and proclaim the gospel. Our
motivation should be a deep sense of compassion for people knowing what is at stake in terms
of their eternal soul. . God is just AND God is compassionate. He loves people and through
Jesus provides the way
I John 4:9-10 9
Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10
God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
That word “propitiation” means absorbing wrath. That is the good news of the gospel, that
is what truly heals and relieves eternal suffering. We have been called and commissioned
to spread this Gospel. Motivated by the deep love and compassion Jesus has shown us we
urgently call people to, Trust Jesus!
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only
More in Mission of the King | Matthew Part II
September 14, 2014Rejecting Jesus | Matthew 13:53-58 (Mville)
September 7, 2014Parables of Kingdom Power and Price | Matthew 13 (Mville)
August 31, 2014Parables of the Kingdom | Matthew 13 (Mville)