In frustration the lawyer throws up his hands and says, “I’d have a great job if it weren’t for all these clients!”. Of course, the humor in that statement is in the fact that if it weren’t for all those clients, he wouldn’t have a job.
In Matthew 9:35-38, they followed Him through the towns and villages, watching as He taught in the synagogues, preached the gospel, and healed every disease and sickness. And then Jesus introduced the disciples to what it’s really all about. People.
“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (v. 36) The original word for “harassed” meant weary, exhausted. He looked out and saw a crowd of tired, helpless people, and was moved with compassion. Then He turned to His disciples and basically said “Welcome to the “harvest”. Oh, and by the way, you should probably ask Me to send help. You’re going to need it.”
But my eyes are continually drawn to “He had compassion on them”. Them. Tired, worn out, helpless sheep. And as usual, my mind goes to what Jesus did not have compassion on, in order for me to grasp the importance of the real object of His compassion.
His compassion was not for a ministry, or a ministry event. He wasn’t moved on behalf of a vision statement, a fund raiser or a program. The beautiful new building that we’re so proud of doesn’t do it, nor does the sermon preached in that building, (as fascinating as I’m sure it was).
What moves the heart of Jesus is people. It has always been about people. Yes, all those needy people who aggravate us, irritate us, wear us out. Where would we be without them? Pastors would have no calling. Nor would bible study leaders and teachers. The mercy givers would have no place to put their mercy. The givers…who would they give to? (God doesn’t need your money…people do). Who would those with the gift of healing heal? Who would the evangelists evangelize? On whom would I learn to give grace? Who would I forgive? Who would teach me how very hard it is to maintain true unity?
They were led to the reason for everything. A bunch of tired, helpless, directionless people that Jesus called the “harvest”. And His heart moved at the sight of them.
I guess my final thought is this. We’d have a great Church, if it weren’t for all these sheep, wouldn’t we?