Gibbs, Jeffrey A. “9:36-10:4: Narrative Introduction to the Missionary Discourse." Matthew 1:1-11:1. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006, pp. 495-501.
In Matthew 9:36, when Jesus looks upon the crowds, Gibbs observes the grammar used emphasizes the fact that they had been downtrodden for some time. Though they themselves are sinful, they have also been harmed by the neglect of their leaders (Gibbs 2006, 495). The description of Israel as without the protection of a leader is relatively common both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
In contrast to the situation in 9:36-38, Jesus empowers his twelve apostles in 10:1-4, as those who will have authority over evil spirits and diseases (Gibbs 2006, 497). Gibbs notes that this passage is the only place where Matthew uses the word "apostle," and it is placed in its sentence so as to draw attention to the word "apostle." Gibbs observes that it is likely the use of "Peter" being "first" indicates his leadership. Thaddeus is elsewhere called Lebbeus and is also Judas, son of James (Gibbs 2006, 498).
The work of the disciples, as described by Matthew, emphasizes the work of Jesus as the source of apostolic ministry. Gibbs considers the work of the disicples to continue what Jesus was doing (Gibbs 2006, 499). The situation is urgent. There is no time for delay. But the fact of the workers being called and equipped by God is clear. For this reason we pray that God would send out workers.
Gibbs finds it clear from Matthew's text that the disciples pray to the Father and the Father sends them to continue Jesus' work. This is the same prayer and hope we would hold to today (Gibbs 2006, 500).