By Brooke Holt
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like a sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:35-36
Compassion is not one of my strongest spiritual gifts. I have often confessed that as I know the importance of compassion. When I read this passage, God reminded me of just how important it is. Jesus was a man of perfect compassion. When he looked out over the crowds of people – people who rejected him, people living in blatant sin, people who were sick, people oppressed by demons, and people seeking truth – when Jesus saw these people, he felt compassion for them, not anger or judgement, but compassion. Wow! The perfect Son of God looks out at the brokenness of people and feels compassion. Why did Jesus respond with such compassion?
When Jesus looked at the crowds, he saw people he loved who were lost and confused. They had not been taught the truth about who he was and what his Father was like. Instead, Matthew reports they had been harassed by those who were supposed to care for them. The shepherds, the religious and political leaders of their day, had not cared for the people but had misled them by not teaching the truths of who God is and by taking advantage of their needs and dependency.
Unlike these religious and political leaders, Jesus took time to see people, truly see them. He not only saw their physical needs, but he looked within them and was attuned to their emotional and spiritual needs as well. Jesus knew people; he understood people. And with that perfect knowledge and understanding came compassion. Jesus knew what his people needed. They needed the Good Shepherd; they needed guidance grounded in God’s truth; they needed healing; and they desperately needed love and care.
Jesus came to provide this care for his people. He manifested and taught the truth. He constantly taught the word of God and the ways of the kingdom of God. He healed the infirmed, drove out demons, and took time to truly minister to those who came to him. Most importantly, Jesus came to demonstrate the love of the Father and to lead his children into a relationship with the triune God.
Jesus was and is the Good Shepherd. He is the only one who truly sees you and knows you. Just like the crowds gathered that day, Jesus looks at you with compassion. He knows how the leaders in your life have failed you. He understands your disappointment and hurt. He grieves your losses with you. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus not only sees and knows but can do something about what you have faced and are facing. Jesus brings his presence, compassion, and comfort. Beyond those things, Jesus is also the one who can bring healing to your life.
Do you know the compassion that Jesus has for you today? How might the Lord want to minister to you today from that place of compassion? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Follow the ancient way of the Psalms and find the life God has for you. A model for vibrant worship, the Psalms provide practical wisdom to traverse the circuitous path of life with trust and hope. Pilgrim’s Path: A Study of the Psalms traces our spiritual walk with God—from discovery and delight, through doubt and disappointment, into joyful confidence. Whether used for individual or group study, Pilgrim’s Path is for everyone who seeks to know and love God more and find life in him.
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