Shortage of Workers (Matthew 9:35-38). Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in
their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
Seeing the crowds, He felt compassion for them for they were distressed and downcast like sheep without
a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the
Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Christ pictures Himself as a
Shepherd and as Harvester. The harvest is His and we must obey Him if the souls are going to be won.
Without Moses (Numbers 27:17) or a king (1 Kings 22:17; 2 Chronicles 18:16), Israel had been said to be
“without a shepherd,” or ruler. God Himself would become its shepherd (Ezekiel 34:11-16). The
Shepherd’s ministry includes feeding, healing and bringing back the lost sheep (Ezekiel 34:2-6).
Instructions for the Workers (Matthew 10:1-42; Mark 6:7-11; Luke 9:1-5). Note the change from
“disciples” (those who learn) to “apostles” (those who are sent). These Twelve were the first
missionaries. Christ gave them the divine power they needed to do His work, for he equips those whom
He calls into service. God uses a variety of people to accomplish His work. The miracles they would
perform would be their credentials that they represented the King. Their commission was clear: preach
the Kingdom of Heaven and go only to the Jews.
In Matthew 10:16-23, Jesus gives instructions to future apostles. Here Christ looks down through history
and sees those who will be His witness during the Tribulation Period. These verses do not apply to the
Twelve Apostles. This period will end with the return of the Son of Man.
In Matthew 10:24-42, Jesus gives instructions to present disciples. This passage contains encouragement
and instruction for His followers today. He warns against the fear of man and asserts that it is a privilege
to suffer for His sake. He stresses the importance of open confession of Him and that the Gospel is a
divider of people. He must be more important than our family. We cannot serve Him without taking up
the cross; this means being crucified to self and bearing His reproach. To save our lives means to lose
them but to lose our lives for His sake means to save them.
Death of John and Christ’s Withdraw to Bethsaida (Matthew 14:13-14; Mark 6:31-34; Luke 9:10b11;
John 6:1-3). Herod Antipas because of a proud boast is forced by his wife Herodias through her
daughter Salome to beheaded John the Baptizer. Antipas, half-drunk, was caught in the snare of the wily
Herodias. The swift hand of retribution soon fell on Antipas and his adulterous wife. The furies of
conscience pursued him relentlessly and he was sure that Jesus must be John returned from the dead.
They were soon banished to Lugdumin in Gaul, not far from the Spanish frontier, where they died in
obscurity and dishonor. John’s disciples buried his body in a tomb and reported to Jesus. The apostles
also returned and reported to Him all they had done and taught. Taking them with Him, Jesus withdrew
to the other side of the Sea Galilee, to a city called Bethsaida. There were five reasons for Christ’s
1. Jealousy of Herod Antipas (cf. Mark 14:13 with Mark 6:30)
2. The misguided zeal of followers who sought to force Jesus to accept the throne of Israel prematurely (cf., John 6:15)
3. The hostility of Jewish leaders (cf. Mark 7:1-23)
4. The disciples’ need for rest after their grueling tours (cf. Mark 6:31)
5. The opportunity for more personalized training of the disciples
The accusation by the leaders was that Jesus was demon-possessed and the death of John the Baptizer
brought about a turning point in the life of Christ. Mark 6:31 marks a shift from a predominantly public
ministry to a predominantly private one. The crowds, however, followed Him on foot from the towns.
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick. Notice that
miracles were not performed solely for authentication, but out of compassion also.