The Compassion of Christ
Matthew 9:36 (ESV) – When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Jesus sees what we often fail to see. We tend to look only at the outside, but Jesus sees what is going on inside. We see only the actions, but Jesus sees the heart. The external situation gets our attention and drives our responses, but Jesus sees how a situation even got to the point it is at.
The woman at the well is an example of this. People see her as an adulterous and unfaithful woman. They see her divorces. They know she lives with a man she’s not married to. She’s a failure to most people. But Jesus sees her as someone that is thirsty for Living Water. She just hasn’t been exposed to it. We see another example of Jesus’ ability to see beyond what most see in our passage today. We read in Matthew 9:36, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
The sea of people in Israel gathered regularly where Jesus went. He also witnessed crowds of people gathered for religious festivals in Jerusalem. Many of the people in these crowds thought Jesus was out of his mind for the things He did and said. He could have seen them as enemies. But He saw them differently. Our passage says He saw them as sheep lacking a shepherd. They were harassed and helpless sheep wandering around with no guidance or leadership. Their leaders didn’t love them. They used them. Their actions were driven by this lostness in their souls.
Jesus wasn’t angered by them. He had compassion for them. He saw past the outside and recognized their true condition. Jesus is the Great Shepherd who actually cares about the sheep. He sees the vast sea of people and His heart is moved. He can see what others don’t see. One evidence that we are growing in grace is we, too, remember that most people are lost sheep. They wander without direction or help. They are harassed and helpless. Each of them has the same need above everything else in the world: to know the True Shepherd of their souls.
Ask the Lord to help you see people more like He did. Don’t be quick to look only at the outside. Remember that many of the most frustrating or sinful people you see are simply sheep without a shepherd.
They are harassed and helpless. Our compassion will grow as we see them more and more like Jesus did.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why is it important to hear that Jesus had compassion on the crowds?
- What are some of the ways people in the world are harassed and helpless?
- How can we increase our compassion for people without approving of their sin or rebellious lifestyles?
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