“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them” (Matt. 9:31, NIV).
Someone has written that the primary reason this line was recorded in Matthew’s Gospel is that it underlines the uniqueness of Jesus—His amazing ability to overcome the natural unloveliness of crowds and mobs and imagine the holy joy in eyes of redeemed individuals.
Is that our reaction to the masses of people around us in the cities and towns where we live? Do we have compassion for them? Or are we content to let them remain faceless, nameless beings whom we attempt to avoid bumping into on the street or sidewalk? Are we grieved when we note the despair of the children on street corners begging for bread, or the desperation of the homeless and mentally ill who cluster in the great cities of our world?
Do our hearts bleed when we see neighbors being deceived by unscrupulous political or religious leaders who take their money and dash their dreams? Are we moved to tears when they are manipulated by advertising into buying newer cell phones and greater gadgets? Do we care that so many spend endless hours shooting imaginary enemies on video screens or frantically swaying to mind-numbing tunes, entertaining themselves to death?
Perhaps, some Christians think, the crowds deserve what they are getting. Perhaps they don’t have a right to our tears and our time. Maybe they’re not worth all the effort that it takes to get close enough to see their private tears and fears. They chose the bargain brand when the sink of life was overflowing—now let them realize their mistake: let them mop their own floors. Maybe it will teach them a lesson.
But Scripture says that Jesus had compassion for them—that His heart and mind went searching after them before they ever made a move toward Him. Do we have compassion for them? Or do we need to get down on our knees tonight and confess that the biggest obstacle to the growth of the kingdom in our neighborhoods may be our own judgmental attitudes?
I am praying for the compassion of Jesus as I look at the crowds who fill up my world. Left to myself I will fail in being like Him. Join me this month in asking for special grace to rise above our fears and prejudices and truly love the ones for whom He sacrificed Himself.