Matthew 9:35-36. Jesus went about all the cities, teaching in their synagogues See on Matthew 4:23. When he saw the multitude he was moved with compassion Having come from heaven to earth to seek and save lost sinners, he was affected to see such multitudes desirous of instruction, and yet destitute of it, and in danger of perishing without it, being either deserted or misled by their spiritual guides, and living in ignorance of the things which it most concerned them to know, and in a state of guilt and depravity. Because they fainted The original expression: εκλελυμενοι , denotes here a kind of faintness, or weakness, which is caused by hunger and weariness. Perhaps the expression may refer partly to the fatigue of their frequent journeys in following Christ from place to place; for many of them came, not only from the several parts of Galilee, but also from Judea and Idumea, from beyond Jordan: and the borders of Tyre and Zidon. Faintness of soul, however, is undoubtedly intended here, rather than of body. And were scattered abroad Gr. ερριμμενοι , an expression which, according to Elsner, means exposed to continual danger, as sheep having no shepherd. And yet this people had many teachers; they had scribes in every city, and the priests, whose lips should have dispensed knowledge, and at whose mouth the people should have sought the law, (Malachi 2:7,) were to be found in all parts of the land. But they had no teachers who cared for their souls; and none who were able, if they had been willing, to have given them such instruction as they needed. They had no pastors after God’s own heart. “The teachers just mentioned,” says Macknight, “were blind, perverse, lazy guides, who every day discovered their ignorance and wickedness more and more. They either neglected the office of teaching altogether, or they filled the people’s minds with high notions of ritual observances and traditions, to the utter disparagement of moral duties, which in a manner they trampled under foot; so that instead of serving God, they served their own glory, their gain, and their belly. Wherefore, any appearance of religion which they had, was wholly feigned and hypocritical; insomuch that they rather did hurt by it than were of real service to the interests of [piety and] virtue. Besides, the common people, being distracted by the disagreeing factions of the Pharisees and Sadducees, knew not what to choose or refuse. The case therefore called loudly for the compassion of Jesus, which indeed was never wanting to them at any time, for he always cherished the tenderest affection toward his countrymen; but it flowed particularly on this occasion, when he considered that they were in great distress for want of spiritual food.” And therefore being deeply touched with a feeling of their miserable condition, he resolved to provide some remedy for it; which, as the evangelist here states, he proceeded to do immediately, directing his disciples to intercede with God to send forth labourers into his harvest, and immediately afterward appointing and sending those labourers.
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