My fondest memories of our Lord Jesus Christ is the picture wherein Jesus is pictured as the shepherd with a lamb held close to His bosom. I can’t express my joy when I look at the picture and see myself as the lamb held close. Our shepherd has a kind and compassionate heart. This can be seen in the passage from Matthew 9: 35-38.
” 35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
This passage speaks of how Jesus sees us, His people. The verses can be divided into two parts. Verses 35-36 speaks of Jesus as the healer and a shepherd. Verses 37-38 describes how He saw the people as harvest waiting for workers.
In our modern day lives, when we see a gathering of people, we all get nervous. Out of curiosity we too join the crowd to find out whats happening. Similar was the situation when people heard about Jesus. They used to flock around Him, coming from all directions. To hear His words and to be healed by Him. For the disciples there was nothing unusual in the sight. But Jesus saw us, His people in different light. When the crowd gathered around Jesus to see Him and hear Him, He saw not just faces. Instead Jesus saw people like you and me who are ” Harassed and helpless”. Harassed here does not mean troubled by someone, but troubled by the burdens they bore upon themselves. Jesus bore the burden of the Cross for you and me. Have we ever stopped in our rush to pause and see Jesus in the face of those who are troubled??? Here Jesus is the healer of all troubles and distress. We need only to lay our burden on Him, and He will carry it for us. (Matthew 11: 28-30) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened… my burden is light.” Second, He sees us as helpless. He sees His children lost and drowned in sin without the Savior, Lord Jesus Christ. These people may seem calm and composed and successful in material world . But Jesus sees their hearts before Him. They are unable to escape from the shackles of sin. Hence they are helpless and dispirited. To the world everything may seem normal but inside they are, as Paul puts in Ephesians 2: 12 without “hope and without God in the world.” Third, Jesus as the shepherd of lost sheep. When Jesus saw the crowd gathered around Him. His heart was filled with compassion since he saw them as sheep without a shepherd.. A shepherd looks after many sheep and protects them from all dangers, risking his life. But pause here to think, what would happen to the sheep if a wolf kills the shepherd? We too are faced with the danger when we get stuck in sin without the Savior to rescue us.
Verses 37-38 sees Jesus describing us His sheep as harvest waiting for workers which are few. Jesus here is a farmer who has a healthy crop ready for harvest, but he doesn’t have enough workers . The thing to be noticed here is that on the one hand, the Lord saves His people and gives them salvation and new life,On the other hand, He uses people whom He has saved and renewed to save His lost people. This task could easily be done by the angels and prophets , who would do a much better job than us. But He chose you and me. Yes! You heard it right. So there are many lost sheep/ plentiful harvest but dearth of workers/ shepherds to help bring them back. We should see ourselves as His workers who have tasted his salvation at the cross and hence tell others what He has done for resurrection of our souls.
He has set a clear picture of what He seeks from us. Are we ready to hear?
Before His crucifixion, Jesus has healed many people who were diseased and also raised few from the dead. Among these was His friend, Lazarus. If asked separately from the crowd, not one would have said, “Crucify Him”. Yet the same crowd went mute when Jesus was brought before Pilate to be examined for crime. None of the Gospels speak of anyone not even His own disciples of speaking for Him. Why? Was it God’s will or was it so easy for the Pharisees to manipulate the minds? Where do we stand today? With the crowd mute or like Peter deny knowing Him or like Judas we too sell Him for our greed?
Look carefully at the cross. The son who was to be seated at the right of the Father, is on the cross, bleeding and nailed. How did He reach there? Who is responsible? The answer is simple: You and me. Think about this: in 24 hours how many times do we remember Him? We treat Him like a LIC policy, to be used at times of need and trouble, and then forgotten. But this is not what He desires from us, His sheep. The Healer and Shepherd wants each one of us to find time alone from the crowd, sit and pray to the Father. (Matthew 26: 36 “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”)
Close your eyes. Which is your image of Christ? The Healer? The Shepherd? Or the Son who was crucified for our sins and is still nailed to our sins? Would you rush into the arms of the Shepherd who has compassion on his helpless and harassed sheep? He is calling each one of us by our names. Are you listening?
( Isaiah 49:15-16 )
15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.