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, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” — Matthew 9:35-38.
He was moved with compassion for them (vss 35-36)
There are many factors that motivated Jesus to come to this earth, go from place to place with the gospel of the kingdom, and moved Him to endure the shame and pain of dying on the cross. But there was one prime factor which is mentioned in our text. Notice verse 36: “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”
Jesus had compassion for the lost as mentioned on numerous occasions (cf. Matthew 14:14; 15:32; 20:30-34; Mark 1:40-41; 5:1-20; Luke 7:11-15).
He was moved with compassion when He saw people who were:
a. Weary and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd;
b. Suffering from diseases, demon possession, and hunger.
His compassion moved Him to action!
1. To heal the sick and the demon-possessed, raise the dead, and feed the hungry.
2. To personally teach those in need of a Shepherd (cf. Mark 6:34).
3. To call upon his disciples to pray for laborers (Matthew 9:37-38).
4. To send out his disciples as laborers (Matthew 10:1-7).
Jesus was truly “moved by compassion” for the lost. Thus motivated, he did what he could to meet their needs, especially their need for salvation.
What about us?
1. Do we have compassion for the lost?
2. Are we “moved with compassion” to do whatever we can when we are among needy people?
May we be “moved with compassion” by the example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose compassion moved Him to save us.
Plentiful Harvest, Few Laborers, Pray (vss 37-38)
On viewing the multitudes following him, Jesus says that the harvest is “plentiful” indicating that the crop is ready for harvest (cf. Luke 10:2). His emphasis is on the proclamation of the gospel. The laborers are his disciples who imitate Him by proclaiming the coming of the kingdom (cf. 10:7). Jesus urges his disciples to pray to God to send harvest workers. No one can do the work of harvest without being equipped for it by God.
Note: In chapter 10, Jesus equips the 12 disciples to go and preach the kingdom to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” with additional instructions and what they should expect as His workers. In chapter 28:18-20, He sends His disciples to the whole world to “make disciples of all the nations”. Being His disciples today, we are tasked with the same compassionate work.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.