Devotional: ‘Moved With Compassion’

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Matthew 9:35 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. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” ESV

What do you see whenever you see a crowd? Some people see obstacles. Some people see intrusions. Some people see nothing. What did Jesus see when He saw a crowd? He saw sheep without a shepherd.

When Jesus looked at a crowd, He saw more than faces; He saw hearts and souls. He saw homes without love; individuals without a friend; the confused without answers; and the disillusioned with no hope. Because Jesus saw so much need, the Bible says that He was moved with compassion.

The ancients had a very strange idea when it came to the idea of compassion. They believed that compassion, as well as other deep emotions, originated in a person’s bowels. No doubt you have heard the term –‘gut feeling’, or perhaps you have had a ‘nervous stomach.’ To be moved with compassion meant to be touched in the deepest part of your being.

Whenever Jesus saw people in need, He could not easily look away. Their need touched Him so deeply that it perhaps made Him feel a bit sick in His stomach. Scripture seems to indicate that it even caused Him to sometimes lose His physical appetite. (see Jn 4:32) His desire to help those in need literally consumed Him.

So again I ask each of us the question – “What do you see whenever you see a crowd?” Most of see either an intrusion, or we see nothing. Either we are bothered by the crowd and wished they would go away, or we are totally unaware of their need or presence. Rarely do we look beyond their faces and into the souls.

Let’s make it our prayer today that Christ will enable us to see what He sees; to feel what He feels; and to do what He would do.

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