Are you moved?
Updated: Oct 11
Do you ever watch people? I do. Whether I'm sitting in a busy mall or an airport, sometimes I just watch people, hurrying through their day, busy about their earthly duties. My friend, BJ Wilson, and I recently made a pitstop at the world-famous Buc-ee's and quickly determined that it is also a great place for people-watching (while eating brisket, beef jerky, or beaver nuggets, of course). But when I get a chance, I just sit and watch people and I wonder about their eternal destination. When I pray for them and for those in my life who are lost, I view them through the lens of eternity, and it hits me hard. Seeing people through the eyes of Jesus is one of the strongest motivations for me to reach out and tell them about Him.
It reminds me of this passage:
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.” - Matthew 9:35-38 (NKJV)
I love how we get to read about what Jesus saw, and how it made Him feel. Some translations say that He
"felt compassion for them", but I appreciate how the New King James Version (among others) states that Jesus was moved. I like this word because it can be defined as a "strong feeling of sorrow or sympathy" but also as an "influence or prompt to do something".
So why was Jesus moved?
This passage reveals several reasons:
1. He was moved because they had no shepherd.
"...they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd."
Why did this impact Jesus? John tells us why...because He is the good shepherd! (John 10:11)
Shepherds have the important job of tending their sheep - taking care of them, guarding and protecting them. Jesus saw lost sheep that day, and He saw that they were weary, scattered, distressed, and dejected. Like any good shepherd, he longed to help them. After all, this is why He came into this world; He was on a rescue mission to save us (Luke 19:10; Galatians 4:4-5).
2. He was moved because there were so many.
"But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them..."
We know Jesus is the good shepherd who will leave the ninety-nine to find the one lost sheep because He loves us individually and unconditionally (Luke 15:1-7). But on this day, the Savior sees the crowd. He sees the multitude. And He was moved.
How many are there around you who are lost, lonely, and broken? Initially, it may not seem like that many. My guess is that they're all around you, you just don't always see them. The truth is, most of us interact with many people everyday that don't know Christ, and don't even know how to know Him. The need is far greater than the number of believers willing to share, or as Jesus puts it: "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few."
In these verses and many others, Jesus gives us the secret sauce for seeing the lost... which is prayer. The more we pause to pray for those in our lives who are without Christ, the more we will be moved with compassion for them. We will see them as the Good Shepherd sees them, which will also be life-changing for us!
A few years ago, we hired someone to install extra insulation in our our home, which was a log cabin. It was a cool place to live, but in the winter it was really cool, because it was difficult to keep heated. It was a job that took several days, and I soon realized that God had sent this person to us - not just so he could help us - but so we could help him. He didn't have a relationship with Jesus, and he didn't know that he could. He wasn't even sure it was possible for him (his own words). He'd been raised in a church that taught works-based salvation, so the "gospel" he'd heard wasn't good news at all. He told me how harshly he had been judged and wasn't planning on ever trying "religion" again. Over the next several days, my wife and I prayed for him and I talked with him as much as possible. This guy was hurting, and I could feel his pain. The more we talked, the more I felt like I could sense his longing for forgiveness and freedom. I will never forget when I had the opportunity to share with him the true news of Jesus, the Gospel of grace. I could see the victory in his eyes when he trusted Christ in my driveway that day. Walls and tears fell to the ground as this grown man, who I had just met, hugged me and wept with gratitude.
What a simple, yet sad reality. So many people have heard about Jesus, but many have only heard bad news, fake news, and a false gospel. By the grace of God, this man's life was saved for eternity, and there are many others around us like him who feel harassed, helpless, and downcast. They all need the hope that can only be found in Jesus. The insulation installer was forever changed, and I would never be the same either. The compassion of Jesus is powerful! And as we read through the Gospels, it is clear that the compassion that Christ felt wasn't just a feeling...
3. Compassion moved Jesus to the cross.
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep." - John 10:11
This kind of compassion leads to action!
When Jesus saw the crowds, He knew that redemption required more than a feeling; it would take the greatest offering the world would ever know. As difficult as the task was for Jesus to be betrayed, mocked, beaten, and crucified - His compassion served as a motivation for His monumental sacrifice. They did not take His life - He freely gave it. He died an unimaginably excruciating death, and then victoriously came back to life, so that we could be set free from the bondage of sin and death. Oh, what a Savior!
The same compassion that moved Jesus to the cross can also be what motivates you and me to share the Gospel with others. I love how Jesus' response here was a command for us to pray to Him, the Lord of the harvest, on their behalf. Asking the Lord of the harvest to send in workers is asking God to move believers. It is interceding for Christians to be sent. Why didn't Jesus just tell them to "go" into the harvest? Why did He instruct us first to pray? Because it is only Jesus who has the power to save the lost, and it is only Jesus who can move us with compassion to reach them with the message of the cross.
Are you moved?
If not, take a moment out of your busy day to look around. See them. Pray for them. Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send someone to tell them about Him. And when you pray like that, you may soon realize He is actually sending you, and you'll know it's time to respond.
If you struggle with sharing your faith, don't let it stop you, ask God to move you! And we're here to help. Our ministry exists to equip believers/churches to evangelize effectively. We offer live in-person and online training, as well as pre-recorded video trainings and other resources as well. Contact us here or call/text us at 859-379-5769 to learn more. Training is important, but it won't amount to much if you're not moved. Let's commit to praying everyday for those in our lives who don't know Christ, and let's ask the Lord of the harvest to move us with His compassion!