When people are hurting, God responds! Earlier this year, a church in West Virginia decided to host a last-minute food drive to help feed hungry families in their community. In just a few hours, people arrived with enough food to fill the back of a truck. Their mission? To feed those in need physically and spiritually. These believers were following Jesus as they cared for people’s physical and spiritual needs.
Throughout His time on earth, Jesus demonstrated His care and compassion for people’s physical and spiritual needs. The people Jesus encountered in “all the towns and villages” were harassed, helpless, lost, and confused (v. 35). Jesus points out why: The shepherds—that is, their religious leaders—weren’t doing their job! Throughout the Old Testament, God expressed anger toward false shepherds and promised to be the Shepherd Himself (see, for example, Jer. 50:6–7 and Zech. 10:2–3). This demonstrates His faithful love because the sheep hadn’t earned or deserved it. Christ was the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise.
Throughout this passage, therefore, Jesus acted exactly like we would expect a Good Shepherd to act. He took care of the weak and vulnerable by healing two blind men (vv. 27–31) and a demon-possessed man (vv. 32–33). He taught God’s truth, proclaimed the good news of the kingdom, and showed compassion for the crowds (vv. 35–36). True sheep knew His voice and responded in faith (v. 33), while the Pharisees didn’t understand and criticized (v. 34).
Jesus sent His disciples on a training mission (vv. 37–38; see also July 19). Although He switched to the metaphor of workers in a harvest field, His purpose was still to teach them about the heart of a true shepherd.
>> How can we follow in the footsteps of Christ and show compassion to one another? Today consider how you can be the hands and feet of Christ to those around you.
Grant us Your heart of compassion toward the lost. As we minister to people’s souls let us not be blinded to their physical need. Nor let us be so intent on providing material aid that we neglect the spiritual.