Ver. 37,38. The plain sense of these two verses is this: John the Baptist and Christ had now been preaching for some time, God inclined the hearts of great multitudes to follow both the one and the other; there was a great people prepared for the Lord: Mat_11:12, Fromthe days of John the Baptist, the kingdom of heaven had sufferedviolence, and the violent took it by force; men were exceeding fond of hearing the gospel.
The fields were white to the harvest, as our Saviour expresses it, Joh_4:35. But there were few that would faithfully deliver the mind of God; there were abundance of idle Pharisees, and scribes, and priests, that spent their time in teaching people their rites, and ceremonies, and traditions, but the labourers were few; such must be God’s gift to the people, and they must be thrust out. No arguments will be sufficient to persuade men to the weighty work of the ministry, with an intention to fulfil it, but the power of God inclining their hearts to it. You had need therefore pray unto God that he would send, nay, that he would ekbalh, thrust out, labourers into his harvest.
1. The inclination and desire of multitudes to hear Divine truth is God’s harvest.
2. Ministers’ work is a labour, Gal_4:11Phi_4:31Ti_5:17; if rightly discharged, it must be with labour.
3. God is the Lord of the harvest; ministers ought to look upon him as so.
4. None ought to thrust themselves into the work of the ministry, till God thrust them out, Heb_5:4.
5. There always were but a few labourers in God’s harvest. Hence Chrysostom thought that but a few ministers would be saved.
Our Saviour in this chapter prefaces his work of which we shall discourse in the next chapter, viz. his sending forth his twelve apostles.