But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
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See again His freedom from vainglory. That He may not draw all men unto Himself, He sends out His disciples.
And not with this view only, but that He might also teach them, after practising in Palestine, as in a sort of training-school, to strip themselves for their conflicts with the world. For this purpose then He makes the exercises even more serious than the actual conflicts, so far as pertained to their own virtue; that they might more easily engage in the struggles that were to ensue; as it were a sort of tender nestlings whom He was at length leading out to fly. And for the present He makes them physicians of bodies, dispensing to them afterwards the cure of the soul, which is the principal thing.
And mark how He points out the facility and necessity of the thing. For what says He? The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. That is, not to the sowing, says He, but to the reaping do I send you. Which in John He expressed by, Other men labored, and you are entered into their labors. John 4:38
And these things he said, at once repressing their pride, and preparing them to be of good courage, and signifying that the greater part of the labor came first.
And contemplate Him here too beginning from love to man, not with any requital. For He had compassion, because they were troubled and scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd. This is His charge against the rulers of the Jews, that being shepherds they acted the part of wolves. For so far from amending the multitude, they even marred their progress. For instance, when they were marvelling and saying, It was never so seen in Israel: these were affirming the contrary, He casts out devils through the prince of the devils.