Show Compassion{Matthew 9:35-38; NLT}
Jesus traveled through all the cities and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And wherever he went, he healed people of every sort of disease and illness. He felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest, ask him to send out more workers for his fields.”

We have made advances in technology since the time of Jesus, but the cravings in the human heart remain the same. People continue to to have the same cravings, but many people do not know how to achieve lasting satisfaction. Casual sex, drug use, and pornography are a few different ways people go about filling the need they feel in their hearts.

How should the Church, the community of Jesus’ followers, respond to this reality?

To follow the example of Jesus means that we respond to the broken and lost of the world with compassion. It is true that Christians have tended to past judgment rather than offer mercy. It seems that some people get a sick satisfaction from telling people that they are sinning.

Perhaps it would help to remember that the homosexual, the pornographer, and the drug user are not necessarily evil people. Rather they are broken people looking for a way to bring satisfaction, healing, and significance to their wounded hearts. While it is true that these people are living outside of God’s will, they are also being deceived and manipulated by Satan. No matter how awful their lives may seem to us, we have to remember that their lives are being stolen, and they don’t know where to turn to for help.

This compassion that Jesus had was not limited to a feeling in His heart.  Jesus spent time healing, teaching, and loving people.  He did not turn people away, but He entered into their lives to help them. If we are going follow Jesus’ example requires us to find ways to enter into the lives of people.  This might mean teaching, but it also might mean offering a shoulder to cry on, or helping make supper.  Whatever it is, it needs to be done out of love.  It is through our love that people are able to experience God’s love. Please remember that part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus is to engage in the lives of other people.

Jesus teaches us in this passage to pray for workers. There are more people who are lost than there are people who saved. Many of us who are saved do very little to help those in need, and we focus our attention on managing our own sin. It is only through the conviction God’s calling that we begin to move out of our comfort zone and into the places of great need.

Donn Leach in What the Bible Says About Jesus commenting on this passage wrote:

“Jesus knows that many are ready to repent if only some messenger bring the good news of the kingdom to them (Matt. 9:37, 38). But more messengers are needed. God can supply more messengers if His people will pray.”

Prayer is one of the most important things we can do as we seek to change the world. People are not changed by our wise words or logical arguments about God’s power. Rather it is through our love for others that declares to the world God’s love.

Jesus came into this world with love and compassion. Jesus knew the people’s sin, but He also knew their need. He knew that their only hope was love and truth, not judgment and law. What are we offering to people: compassion or judgment?

Questions to consider:

  • Why is judgment an ineffective to influence people?
  • Why do you think Jesus had compassion on the crowds?
  • How can you show compassion and love to someone today?
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