“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Mt. 9:35-38).
In these few verses, the Holy Spirit through Matthew paints a beautiful picture. He presents how Jesus saw the people He encountered as His public ministry gains momentum. How Jesus saw people gives us an example for how we should see them, too.
He saw them as hurting (Mt. 9:35). Their hurts were literal, from sickness to disease. Those hurts mattered to Jesus, and He took action. He helped the hurting. We need to approach people the same way, sensitive to the hurts they harbor. The hurts may be physical, but as often they are social and emotional. We cannot, as Christians, be callous and unfeeling to their hurts. Instead, we must treat them as we would wish others to treat us (Mt. 7:12).
He saw them as hopeless (Mt. 9:36). He did not see them as a lost cause, but rather as people in search of a hope that eluded them. They were weary, scattered, and “shepherdless.” Yet, this condition drew Jesus’ concern. He wanted to give them guidance and assistance. He still wants that for the multitudes today, but He works through us. We need to understand the hopelessness and directionlessness of the multitudes. It should draw our concern.
He saw them as a harvest (Mt. 9:37-38). They were not just a number, but they provided plentiful opportunity. Jesus wanted His disciples dispatched to minister to that multitude. His concern has not abated today. He wants us in the harvest fields, reaching the hopeless and hurting.
Yesterday, during our missions meeting, there was a most unusual “benevolence call.” Let me just say “his” name was Mary. As I left the meeting to meet him at the door, My first reaction was repulsion. Then, I felt pity. What causes a young man to become so confused or hurt to act out in such a way? What hope did he have? What opportunity did I have to reach him? Who knows how his story will end, but my hope and prayer is that something was done or said that will lead him to Christ at some point. You will not likely meet someone so apparently in need of Jesus today, but most of all you encounter are lost. That means they are in need. Let us see people like Jesus did!