Does Anyone Have Compassion or Concern for Those Who Need Christ?
Matt. 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matt. 9:37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;
Matt. 9:38 therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Jesus looks out over the multitude of people who have been following him and he is moved with compassion. Why? Because they have been living under a burden of religious oppression that has led them to the point of feeling “harassed and helpless.” No matter what they do, they just can’t seem to get it right and they are exhausted from trying. Jesus, is the good shepherd and his realization is that there is no one caring for these people and their true spiritual welfare. No one is shepherding them as a good shepherd. Instead they are being used by the system.
This is why Jesus then tells his disciples “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” The reality was that many people were spiritually hungry and they were not being fed by the “spiritual” system of the day. They were actually being “harassed” by the system which left them wandering spiritually. Jesus recognized that there were very few who had compassion upon the true needs of the people. For those disciples who would move away from the religious system and focus on the genuine needs of the crowds, on those things which moved Jesus to compassion, there would be a huge harvest. The prayer for laborers was a prayer that God would move more shepherds to compassion, recognizing the real needs of the sheep. The sheep needed Christ, not a religious system.
I’m not sure that the situation has changed much today. It’s easy to get caught up in the religious system and its function and somehow lose focus of the real needs of the sheep. Instead, we focus on what we view are the “perceived” needs of these individuals. Jesus was moved to compassion for the real needs of the crowds. It appears that seeing the plentiful harvest has to do with being a real shepherd. The real shepherd works to care for the real needs of the sheep.
The sheep in Jesus’ day didn’t need guilt heaped upon them from a religious system. I don’t think that much has changed today. There is a real world around us with hurting people with real needs. Their need is to know Christ, not a religious system or structure. Jesus was wondering whether there were those around who had compassion or concern for those who needed to know Christ. The same is true today. Too many are lamenting the fact that there seems to be too little harvest. Could it be that there are not enough shepherds with compassion or concern for the real needs of the crowds? Could it be that there is very little harvest because the laborers are focused in the wrong direction?
If we would truly pray for laborers for the harvest, I believe that the Lord would raise up shepherds, moved with compassion for those who need Christ. That’s where we need to begin, not with the sheep, but with the shepherds. May God help us to pray for the workers. May God help us to raise up good shepherds. May God help us to have eyes for the real needs of the people.
We need a whole new generation of shepherds who will have compassion and concern for those who need Christ. May God help us as we pray, and as our eyes are opened to the white fields surrounding us.
Lord, please help me to have compassion for the real needs around me. Amen.