Matthew 9:35-38 – The Harvest Is Great, the Laborers Few


Matthew 9:35-38


Jesus concludes his initial ministry of teaching and healing in Galilee. He has compassion for the crowds who are like sheep without a shepherd, and now he invites his disciples to pray to the Lord to send out laborers for the harvest.


This section provides a concluding frame to Matthew’s narrative units on Jesus’ initial ministry in Galilee–the Sermon on the Mount (5:1-7:29) and the cycle of miracles (8:1-9:34). It repeats verbally the description of Jesus’ ministry in the sequence that matches Matthew’s narrative emphasis: teaching, proclaiming the good news, and healing (see 4:23-25). Once again it points to the successful magnitude of that ministry in Jesus’ healing of “every” disease and “every” sickness (9:35; 4:24). Rather than focusing on the great crowds that follow Jesus, it turns instead to Jesus’ compassion and to the theme of mission. Jesus first instructs his disciples to pray that the Lord send out laborers for the harvest and then, as if in fulfillment of that prayer, proceeds to summon his disciples and send them out in mission (10:1-42).