Summary: I will encourage God’s people in my care to identify at least one person with whom they will share Jesus’ love between now and Easter Sunday.
What do you tend to notice as you travel around town? What kinds of things naturally catch your eye? Based on our gender, our likes/dislikes, our personalities, our natural inclinations, we all tend to notice particular things.
We’ve all had the experience of buying a new car (at least new to us) and all of a sudden, we see the same car everywhere! Before we bought it, we thought they were unique, but afterwards, we see it constantly. It’s not necessarily that everyone bought the same car we did overnight; it’s just that our perception is more attentive now. We weren’t looking for that kind of car, so we didn’t see it very often. You might have had this same experience with a shirt or blouse you bought.
Context: I’ve been looking through the records of Jesus’ life to find out what he noticed as he traveled around. For the sake of time, I want to center on the situations and people that stirred his heart of love. The Gospel writers used the word “compassion” to describe these events in Jesus’ life.
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” [Then he thanked God for their sack lunch and they fed] about five thousand men, besides women and children (Matthew 14:13-21).
Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.” His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?” [So Jesus thanked God for another sack lunch and they distributed food to] about four thousand, besides women and children (Matthew 15:29-38; cf. Mark 8:1-10).
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him (Matthew 20:29-34).
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured (Mark 1:40-42).
Jesus noticed sick and hungry people but that’s not all.
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. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” [Later] He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness (Matthew 9:35-10:1).
When Jesus … saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things (Mark 6:34).
Jesus noticed confused people who wanted to have a real connection with God but had no idea how to find it.
Text: The very religious people of Jesus’ day could not understand his preoccupation with ordinary, hurting people.
[So] Jesus told them [three stories]: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, `Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.