The Shepherd's Compassion
"Then Jesus went about all the cities and
villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the
gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease
among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved
with compassion for
them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no
shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ĎThe harvest truly is plentiful,
but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest
to send out laborers into His harvest.í" Matthew 9:35-38
At the time Jesus spoke these words He was on His
last circuit through Israel preaching the Kingdom of God. He is
making a bona fide presentation of Himself as their long prophesied
King. In time, the leaders of Israel would lead the nation to reject
Him. The result was His sacrificial death for all sinners and the
launching of the church age in which Gentiles as well as Jews gain
citizenship in Godís kingdom by receiving Jesus Christ by faith as
I. Jesus Was Compassionate In His Ministry
He Went To All The Cities And Villages
We can understand Him going to the cities where
the population was greater and He could preach to more people at any
given time. We see His compassion in also going to the small
villages because every soul was precious in His sight. To Him the
value of one soul was worth more than the whole world. (Mark 8:36).
-He Taught In Their Synagogues
The most devout Israelites assembled in the
synagogues every Sabbath day (Saturday) for worship and instruction.
Jesus was first sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel
(Matthew 10:16; 15:24) He was faithful in fulfilling His commission.
He Proclaimed The Gospel of The Kingdom
For hundreds of years the prophets of Israel had
spoken of a golden age in which Godís Messiah (anointed One) would
sit on the throne of David and rule, not only over Israel, but the
Gentile nations of the world as well.
We can say that IF Israel had received Jesus as
their Messiah, King Jesus would have begun His reign. But the truth
is, God knew from the beginning that Israel would reject Him.
When Israel officially rejected Christ, Godís
plan for His kingdom passed into the mystery phase kept secret from
the foundation of the world. (Romans 16:25). In Ephesians 3 Paul
describes this age as the time when Gentiles and Jews who receive
Jesus as their Savior become members of the body of Christ. Bible
preachers still faithfully proclaim "Öunless one is born again he
cannot see the kingdom of God" John 3:3.
We may rest assured that Godís Kingdom will be
established in power when Jesus returns to earth with His bride, the
church. (Read Revelation 19 - 20).
He Healed Every Kind of Disease and Sickness
Jesus healed the afflicted because He had
compassion on their hurting bodies and troubled minds. At the same
time, we must realize that the great purpose of His miraculous
healings was to identify Him as Israelís promised Messiah.
John the Baptist languished in prison and desired
reassurance that Jesus truly was the Messiah. He sent his disciples
to ask, "Are you the Coming One or do we look for another?" Jesus answered
and said to them, "Go and tell John the things you
hear and see:
The the blind receive
The lame walk,
are cleansed and
The deaf hear, and
The dead are raised up, and
The poor have the gospel
preached unto them.
blessed is he who is not offended because of ME."
When religious leaders in Jerusalem began to
harden in their rejection of Jesus He said, "But I
have a greater witness than John's, for the works which the
Father has given Me to finish, the very works that I do---bear
witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me." John 5:36. The
miracles of Jesus bore witness that He was Godís promised Messiah as
well as showing His compassion.
II. Jesus Was Compassionate In His Vision
He Saw The Multitudes
We drive with the multitudes in rush hour
traffic. We work in the midst of multitudes in the cities. We gather
with multitudes at social and sports events. Yet most of us never
SEE the multitudes. When we do we rarely have the COMPASSION
for them as Jesus did.
After reading the Gospels scores of times I have
been impressed that Jesus sees each individual as if they are the
only person in the world. For instance, He said that He knows the
number of hairs on their head (Matthew 10:30). At the same time He
doesnít miss anyone in the great multitude called "world
population". His vision encompasses each individual in the great
multitudes of the world.
He Felt Compassion For The Multitudes Because
They Were Distressed
This is true of each individual of the multitudes
of the world. Loneliness among singles; irritations between husbands
and wives; parentís anxiety over the behavior of their children; the
struggle to survive physically and materially; anguish over
sickness, afflictions and death; guilt over the past; uncertainty
about the present and fear of the future. Chances are that every one
of us identified with one or more of those phrases.
What a comfort it would be if each individual
grasped the fact that Jesus is compassionate for us in our
Because They Were Downcast Like Sheep Without A
III. Jesus Desires His Disciples To Share His Compassion -
Greek scholars tell us the Greek word Jesus used
carries the idea of "being thrown down", "lying about", "abandoned"
Sheep herders tell us there is probably no animal
more likely to go astray than a sheep and when gone astray, the
sheep is the most vulnerable and helpless. The sheep is also the
least likely to find its way home again without help. This is how
Jesus saw lost sinners. They need a shepherd to seek them; find
them; restore them, and care for them.
Jesus proceeded to share a spiritual truth and an
exhortation with His disciples that is just as valid today as it was
The Harvest Is Plenteous
The work of sharing the gospel with lost men and
women is like working in a great harvest. At any given time there is a
great number who have reached the point of being ripe and ready.
They have a deep spiritual hunger as a result of being disillusioned
with everything this world has to offer. Multitudes of wealthy
people still have a spiritual hunger. Multitudes of the popular and
powerful still have a spiritual hunger. Multitudes given over to
satisfying every lust of their flesh are still spiritually hungry.
And the numbers increase everyday.
The Workers Are Few
Take a snapshot of any area of the world at any
time or any place in history. Count first the multitudes who are
distressed and cast down. Then count the number of those who are
truly dedicated to work at sharing the good news of Jesus Christ
with the lost and hurting. The result is always the same. The
harvest is plenteous but the laborers are few.
Our God has supernaturally set us down in the
midst of a great harvest field. The statement of Jesus here and many
similar statements in our New Testament has caused us to list
Evangelism as one of our five great purposes. The masses of the lost
and hurting continue to grow all around us, but the number of
workers really working at reaping a harvest of souls for Christ is
few. How can this change?
Beseech The Lord of the Harvest To Send Out
Workers Into The Harvest
In our private times of prayer, in our family
times of prayer, in our assembly as a community of believers, in our
small groups we must take to heart this exhortation of our Great
Shepherd and beseech the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers.
Our great Trinitarian God is the Lord of the
harvest. The Father sent the Son to be a sacrifice for sin. When the
Son returned to the Father He sent the Holy Spirit to empower
believers in sharing the gospel story with those who are still lost
We Will Be First To Be Called And Should Be First
Please note that Jesus exhorted His disciples to
pray for laborers in the last verse of chapter nine. The first seven
verses of chapter ten are the record of Jesus sending out these very
same disciples two by two.
In the ages past Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord.
He heard the expression of the great heart of God crying out, "Whom
shall I send, and who will go for us?" Isaiah responded immediately, "Here am I. Send
me!" - Isaiah 6:8
As we hear anew the compassionate heart of Jesus
Christ crying out, "Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out
laborers into His harvest" my we respond, "First of all, Lord,
Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted
Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.