Summary: Discussion of the compassion Jesus had for the crowds that were "harrassed and helpless."

"He Had Compassion on Them..."

Matthew 9:35-38

November 6, 2005


One of the things I really like about Jesus was just how available he was to people who needed him.

There were times he had to get away and be by himself or his disciples, but generally, he was always where people could find him.

In our passage today, we find another example of that, as we see Jesus working his way through the towns and villages where he was preaching.

But Jesus didn’t just focus on his preaching itinerary. He didn’t just come into town and get whisked away to spend time in the hotel before being driven to his speaking engagement at the synagogue.

Nope - he spent time around people, and in a number of cases, what he saw broke his heart.

I’d like you to turn with me to Matthew 9:35-38 as we see one such episode. If you’re using the Bibles in the seats, this is found on pages 687-688.

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on 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 workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

In looking at this passage, I want us to take note of three ways we see Jesus operating. And as always, I want us to go beyond what we can learn academically, and see how we can make these things a part of our lives as followers of Jesus who seek to reflect him to those around us.

Ready? Okay, let’s dive in and look at the first thing we can learn, and that is that...

Jesus saw the need first-hand.

We’re going to be here just briefly, because it’s not the main thrust of this passage, but I think it merits mention:

Jesus went through all the towns and villages...

Jesus went out to the people. He was around those who needed him. He didn’t rely on market studies to tell him that the crowds were harassed and helpless.

He didn’t insulate himself from those who needed him. I love that about Jesus.

We discussed this when we looked at Jesus’ calling of Matthew the tax-collector, and then going to his house where a bunch of "sinners" were gathered.

I think there are lots of Christians, and lots of pastors who insulate themselves from being around people who need Jesus.

"Let them come to church if they want to hear about them - but I’m not going to go out of my way and possibly contaminate myself by seeking them out."

So unlike Jesus, who came to seek and save what was lost.

Folks, Jesus didn’t insulate himself from people who needed him and neither should we.

But I want to move on to a couple points that I think make up the main message we can find here, and that is that Jesus wanted protection for his people and that he wants even more people for himself.


Jesus wants protection for his people.

...he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Some of you might be more familiar with this than me, but everything I’ve read about sheep indicates that they are extremely stupid animals.

Sheep are dumb, helpless, dumb, vulnerable, dumb, powerless, and dumb. ( - Brent Hulett)

I look at that fact, and I wonder if Jesus was really paying us a compliment when he addresses his followers as sheep!

Sheep, as well as being very stupid, are also very helpless to defend themselves. They need protection from wolves and other wild animals. Wolves were all over the place. They still are.

The "sheep" lacked spiritual leadership and guidance.

The spiritual leadership they were currently under was not doing much of anything to help people’s spiritual condition.

Spiritual "shepherds" are put in place to help the followers of Jesus become established and equipped in the faith, and to protect them from the lies of those who oppose the faith.

Pastors are the "shepherds" of today, as well as Bible study leaders, Sunday school and Wednesday night teachers.

Our job is to teach people about Jesus and keep the wolves away.

The Bible says in Colossians 2:8, from the God’s Word translation -

Be careful not to let anyone rob you {of this faith} through a shallow and misleading philosophy. Such a person follows human traditions and the world’s way of doing things rather than following Christ.

One of the jobs of pastors and Bible study leaders and such is to help people recognize the difference between what the world teaches and the truth of Scripture.

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