In the New Testament, we repeatedly see Christ’s compassion for people. Matthew 9: 35-36 tells us: “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.” And Mark 9:33-34 says that when Christ and His disciples tried to escape the pressing crowds, 33 …many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”
It’s interesting that both Gospel writers use the same image to showcase Christ’s compassion: people are like sheep without someone to care for them. It really is an apt picture. Sheep and people have much in common.
For instance, both sheep and people are easily stressed, often agitated and actually quite helpless when left to their own devices. In fact, sheep without the direction and protection of a shepherd will mindlessly follow the group, even if that means jumping off a cliff to do so. I know that we like to think of ourselves as self-sufficient and more intelligent than simple animals; but every one of us has at least one area of life in which we find ourselves powerless, running in all sorts of directions that only increase our distress and confusion.
I love the idea that Jesus doesn’t hold any of that against us though—He knows our shortcomings; He knows our limitations, even when we don’t; and yet He still He has compassion on us. Out of love, He is not only willing to teach us many things about Himself and about His plan for us in God’s Kingdom. He protects us and guides us. He is also willing to heal our wounded hearts. In John 10:11 Jesus declares, “I am the good shepherd.”
But He then tells us something else about Himself. He says, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
Jesus has done the one thing that we could never do for ourselves. He took our sin upon Himself, hanging on the cross to suffer the punishment that we deserved. He paid for our sins with His blood. In so doing, He purchased us back from the enemy and made us part of God’s family, so that by faith in His completed work we might be born again by the work of the Holy Spirit.
The nails did not keep Jesus on the cross—His compassion did. Jesus paid the ultimate price for us. He suffered the wrath of God against each and every one of our sins. Our salvation cost Jesus everything, but it costs us nothing. Jesus gives this precious gift of new life to us, and He promises to direct us and protect us as His very own lambs as we walk with Him. No longer harassed or helpless, we are in the care of our Good Shepherd.
Blessings on your day!