“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
I love this passage. I have heard it countless times, but when I read it recently I felt like Jesus was asking me, "do you do the 3 things I did when you interact with crowds?"
The first thing Jesus did is was notice the crowds. How many times have I walked past countless people while checking an email during errands? How often am I looking over people’s heads, straight past them, to see if the friend I was meeting has arrived?
People feel restored when they are seen. There was nothing on Jesus’ to do list that was more important than seeing the people in His presence.
Maybe you put your phone in your pocket or purse when you are at a restaurant so you can be the first person who has genuinely asked the waitress how her day was.
Maybe you put your computer in your room so you can look your husband in the face when he walks in from work to tell him you are more interested in his day than anything else you could read about.
Maybe you’re a teenager and you put a basket in the middle of the dining room table as you suggest everyone put their phones in there for dinner, then you smile and tell your mom how glad you are that you are all eating together.
In His love, who can you bless in your home, church, school, or city by just pausing and seeing them?
He Had Compassion
Next, Jesus had compassion on the people. This demonstrates that His “seeing” wasn’t a glance, but that at the very sight of them His heart filled with compassion. I can’t have compassion on someone if I quickly walk past them. But, once I have actually seen them, I can immediately pray for them.
“Lord, please show her that you love her.”
“Father, please, give me grace and help me give grace.”
“God, please fill my mouth with words that will bring life and encouragement at this table.”
These simple prayers remind us that we can’t conjure up compassion in our flesh. We need God to help us move past seeing to pure compassion. When we pray for someone, God renews our hearts and minds to be filled with compassion as He is.
He Knew The Need
Last, Jesus knew their true need. Jesus definitely has an advantage on us on this one, because he knows people’s exact needs. Being all knowing, Jesus could see a woman, have compassion, and know she needed a savior because he knew the details of her painful past (John 4).
Even though you may not know every detail of what someone is going through we can imitate Christ in knowing that no matter what the struggle, hurt, or season all sheep need the Shepherd. Like Jesus, we know everyone’s true need. The only trustworthy shepherd for us is Christ. He knows our past, present, and future and He chooses to loves us, save us, redeem us, and include us in His purposes. What a great God, and greatly to be praised and imitated!
I cannot get this verse out of my heart this week. Who am I putting down my agenda, to do list, and phone to see? Who am I choosing to ask God to increase my compassion for through prayer? Who will I point to the true Shepherd? Who will you?