Matthew 8–10: The Harvest & The Workers

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 4: Saturday

Today’s Bible reading is Matthew 8–10. Matthew 8 begins the second section of this Gospel. Matthew 7: 28a states, “When Jesus had finished these words…” You’ll find similar phrases in 11:1, 13:53, 19:1 and 26:1, that mark the end of a teaching discourse by Jesus. R. E. Nixon writes that the various teachings are arranged topically:

“The first discourse is basically ethical, the second missionary, the third kerygmatic [proclamation of the Gospel], the fourth ecclesiastical and the third eschatological.”1

Noting and marking repeated words or phrases in a book can help with the identification of people, ideas, main themes or divisions. Other key words or phrases include: king, kingdom; Son of David, Son of God, Son of Man; fulfill, fulfilled; marveled and compassion. There may also be some that occur within specific sections, such as, “Truly I say to you,” and “But I say to you,” that occur within The Sermon on the Mount and the word, parable(s), later in Matthew. The phrases in The Sermon on the Mount highlight comparisons and contrasts.

Marking places can help you keep track of who is where and what’s taking place. Add time and you’ll see when something happens or the length of time for an event. Words such as therefore can indicate a conclusion or result.

I’ll repeat these helps from time to time as a reminder. While they may seem obvious at first glance, with their use you will find you are paying more careful attention to what you are reading and you will be able to understand connections you might otherwise have missed.

In Matthew 8–9, Matthew tells of numerous miracles of Jesus as he demonstrates His authority over disease, demons, death and nature. Jesus has authority to forgive sins. All these actions bear witness that He is the Son of God. We also learn those those who were considered outcasts and excluded by religious leaders will be included in the kingdom of heaven: Gentiles, tax collectors and sinners, as Jesus finds the faith of a Roman centurion to be greater than any found among Israel; Jesus call Matthew, the tax collector, to be a disciple and then He eats with other tax collectors and with sinners.

“When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?”

But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.””
Matthew 9:11–13

Matthew 9 closes with these verses:

“Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.””
Matthew 9:35–38

In Matthew 10, Jesus gives His charge and instruction to His primary workers in the harvest, the apostles, as He tells them what to do, how to face opposition, and the suffering and rewards of those who follow Him.

“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
Matthew 10:39

In these chapters Jesus indicates the distressed and dispirited harvest as He moves in their midst teaching, proclaiming and healing; He calls sinners. He also sends out the twelve into the harvest.

Those who know Him are part of His harvest. We stand in a long line of those harvested. Now it’s our turn to go out and work.

_________
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1R. E. Nixon, “Matthew,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds.,
A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 813.
The Meal in the House of Matthew (Le repas chez Mathieu), James Tissot:
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Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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