READ: Psalm 127, Zechariah 6, Matthew 9, 1 Timothy 4
THE COMPASSION OF JESUS
The graciousness of the Spirit to guide us into all truth (despite our determination to wrest good points from misunderstood texts) is assuring. Matthew 9:36 presents an example: “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were harassed and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” Commentary on the compassion of Jesus bookends His preaching, teaching, and healing on one side (v. 35), and His praying for harvest laborers on the other (vv. 37-38). The point is simple–for Jesus, compassion moved Him to pray that more proclaimers would be sent into the harvest field. For us, compassion moves us to send money to feed orphans or drill wells.
Jesus’ Priority Is Souls. Other texts accent that God cares for body, soul, and spirit, but this text reminds us that the priority of Jesus is the eternal soul of men and women. What stirs Jesus is that people are going to hell. This bothers Him much more than the fact that men and women grow hungry. Of course, Jesus cares about the hungry, but the unavoidable truth is that He cares more about the damned. Jesus has enough love to care for every injustice, enough wisdom to know that not all injustices are equal, and enough eternal love to allow suffering and trouble for the body if it leads to the deliverance of the soul. The greatest injustice of them all is that men and women run towards hell unwarned and not prayed for. What really moves Jesus, what is the center of Christ’s compassion, is the masses of people and people groups who do not have eternal life. This is the priority of God, and it should be our priority as well. The compassion of Jesus moves Him to pray for laborers. The compassion of Jesus moves Him to actions that enable lost souls to hear the gospel.
Jesus’ Primary Resource Is People. I suggest that Jesus is tired of us throwing money at problems. Jesus’ answer for people’s problems is people. Jesus’ response to his own stirred emotions was an action that led to gospel proclamation. Jesus first prays for laborers (vv. 37-38); then he calls twelve to Himself and sends them out telling them to preach, heal, and raise the dead–all this without taking money (10:1-8). Take our money away from us. and what do we have left to give? Much–if we understand the compassion of Jesus. It is unpopular to say and it is difficult to hear, but it is what the Bible reveals about Jesus: The compassion of Jesus leads Him to prioritize the souls of men over their bodies. In this life the soul and the body are not equal–not according to scripture. Let us have the courage to admit it and live with the implications. In this life God cares for the soul more than He does for the body and is willing for the body to endure all kinds of anguish if it works to the benefit of the soul.