Summary: This is a message describing the care that both pastors and care group leaders within a local church are to give to those under their spiritual care.
THE COMPASSION OF A SHEPHERD
Scripture Reference: Matthew 9:36 "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd."
Let us take note of the description Luke gave concerning the spirit our Lord had about Him -- He was "moved with compassion."
In recent years, we in the Church have become familiar with the term "undershepherds," or "care group leaders," which refers to individuals serving as shepherds to the sheep within the realm of the local church. What better term could we use to describe the work of both the "care group leader" and the pastor? We are SHEPHERDS --- the PASTOR and the CARE GROUP LEADER --- working together. Our responsibility is to WATCH OVER the sheep that God has placed within our spiritual care. This is not to be considered as a work of drudgery or a burdensome task, but rather as a high honor, not to be taken lightly. This responsibility of caring for the sheep is great when one stops and considers that whether or not some of these precious people obtain eternal life depends a great deal on the care that we, their shepherds, give them.
Care Group Leaders and Pastors are Watchers. This responsibility seperates our work from the work of the EVANGELIST or the TEACHER. Theirs is an important role; however, our role as SHEPHERDS (pastor and care group leaders) is not only to make sure that the sheep are fed, but that they are WATCHED OVER as well. We must keep them in our sight, making sure that they do not stray from the fold, or become attacked by the wolves that lie in wait.
If for some reason those sheep entrusted to our care are enticed to wander away from the fold, then, as their shepherds, we must search until we find the lost one. If any have been attacked by wolves, then we must attend to their wounds, gently pouring in the healing oils of love and compassion, and bring them back to the fold and its safety. Without the proper concern of the shepherds, many sheep will be lost and destroyed. The TRUE SHEPHERD cares! His main concern is his sheep. Perhaps we all need to periodically ask ourselves as pastors and care group leaders what is our main concern.
There is no better example for spiritual shepherds to pattern after than the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Leaving the splendors of heaven, He came to earth and abode with mankind. While here, He continously saw people in need. However, Jesus saw more than just "wounded people." He looked farther than that, and saw that these people had no one to help them. Even then, there were religious movements -- there were temples and synagogues, priests, scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees, BUT IT WAS ALL AN EMPTY FORM. There was no love, no concern, and no genuine care for the people. As Jesus beheld them in their need, He described them as "SHEEP HAVING NO SHEPHERD."
There was something different about Jesus that set Him apart. While the religious leaders of the day were continuously asking something from the people, Jesus came NOT ASKING, but OFFERING. Immediately the multitudes were able to sense the compassion of our Lord. With so little compassion in the world today, people can easily detect its presence.
The word "COMPASSION" is derived from two Latin words meaning "TO SUFFER TOGETHER." It indicates "SORROW FOR THE SUFFERINGS OR TROUBLES OF ANOTHER." It means, also, "DEEP PITY AND SYMPATHY." Christ knew well the meaning of "COMPASSION", and His heart went out to those in need. He looked at those who suffered from pain and discomfort, and there was an urge to respond to their needs. .... "Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with COMPASSION toward them, and He healed their sick." (Matthew 14:14)
To those who hungered and did without material needs, Jesus proclaimed, "I have COMPASSION on the multitude, because they continue with Me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way." (Matthew 15:32) To those who suffered inward hurts and pains due to the tragedies of life, Jesus understood. "...when the Lord saw her, He had COMPASSION on her, and said unto her, Weep not." (Luke 7:13) As Jesus beheld sin, with its attendant toll on people’s lives, His heart WEPT WITHIN. Journeying from town to town, He must have become even more convinced of the need for His earthly mission to take away the sin of the world.
May God help us as shepherds in this day to receive this precious picture of Christ in our minds -"...an high priest ... touched with the feeling of our infirmities." (Hebrews 4:15) It is no wonder that David proclaimed, "The Lord is my shepherd" (Psalm 23:1). I am glad that He is my Shepherd, how about you? He guides me. He restores me. He blesses me. He delivers me. He comforts me. He provides all things for me! He is such a GOOD SHEPHERD that I have no desire to wander astray. I can feel my Shepherd’s love,and I want to be where He is. I desire as David to "DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER."