“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” – Matthew 9:35
Jesus was always on mission. Understanding that His time on earth was limited, He devoted His time and energy exclusively to the will and work of the Father.
“Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.’” – John 4:34
Jesus’ mission-focused mindset brought about a sense of urgency in completing the work that the Father had given Him.
“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” – John 9:4
Before we can fully appreciate the idea that Jesus was wholly focused on His mission and He was fueled by a sense of urgency, we have to have some understanding about how He knew what His mission was.
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” – Mark 1:35
“But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” – Luke 5:16
Jesus placed a high priority on connecting with the Father in prayer to understand what His next step should be. So as we come to Matthew 9 and we see Jesus devoting his days and his nights to traveling, teaching and healing, and he’s no doubt tired, exhausted, maybe even hungry, experiencing all the things any human being would have experienced in the same situation, He’s able to maintain. He doesn’t experience burnout.
Why? Because His life on earth was not merely a list of “to dos.” It was not just a bunch of rituals to follow. Jesus saw His life as the work that the Father sent Him and commissioned Him to do. Therefore, He wasn’t drained by the work. Inwardly, He was energized by the work because His time connecting with the Father refueled and directed Him.
We need to know in no uncertain terms that the idea of being on mission that is driven by connection with the Father has been passed to us.
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” – Matthew 28: 18-20
When I was in the 8th and 9th grade I (briefly!) ran track. My event was the 4 x 400 relay. Our coach adamantly told us on more than one occasion, “If you let that baton hit the ground, just keep running ‘til you reach your house.”
Why? Because the baton hitting the ground means “game over.” It means you couldn’t successfully transition from one runner to the next and for that, you’re disqualified.
Jesus has passed you the baton. Are you running with it or letting it drop to the ground?
Are you on mission or caught up in frivolous affairs that bear no eternal value?
Do you have a sense of urgency about completing the mission?
Do you place a high priority on connecting with the Father through prayer as Jesus did?
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” – Matthew 9:36
When you look at the crowds, what do you see?
Do you see inconvenience? Do you see nuisance? Work? An exhausting project?
When you see the crowd, what do you feel?
Superior? Aggravated? Brokenhearted?
When you turn on the news, when you’re at the grocery store, when you’re in line at the bank, or wherever you might be when you encounter the crowd – those that might not hold your value system, those that might not think, act or speak like you, what do you see?
When you see the crowd, what do you do?
Do you help? Turn a blind eye? Condemn?
When Jesus sees the crowd, He has compassion. He sees much deeper than what can be perceived with the naked eye. He sees their true spiritual condition. He sees them with no spiritual guidance, vulnerable, without protection and unable to help themselves. That’s why, as the Scripture says, He called them harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
We understand compassion to mean “to feel deep sympathy.” It suggests strong emotion.
Compassion begins as a feeling. Jesus saw the crowd and felt compassion.
Until you see what Jesus sees, you won’t feel what Jesus feels.
Until you look at the crowd and see helpless and hurting, not a bunch of reckless “sinners.” Until you look at the crowd and see lost and vulnerable, not shameful and disgraceful. Until you look and see your face in the crowd, you will never feel the compassion that Jesus felt.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
At one point, you were in the crowd. You were lost and without direction. But God, in His infinite mercy, reached out His loving arms of compassion and called you His own. Now He invites you and requires you to do the same for others because there’s really no difference between you and them. We’re all in need of a loving touch from a God who can save.
Had God not shown compassion to you, you’d still be a member of the crowd.