Sheep Without A Shepherd
September 21, 2020
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).
In and around the Central Valley of California you will find shepherds tending sheep. The sheep are used to ‘clean up’ fields that have been harvested of grain, or pasture land that needs to be rejuvenated or reinvigorated. Shepherds are instrumental in not only getting the sheep from one site to another, but they stay with the sheep at every site. Why?
Knowing sheep like many people do, if there were no shepherd to tend to the sheep on site they would not only wander off into places where they shouldn’t be - they would also die. Sheep cannot protect themselves from wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, or from each other! Shepherds make sure the sheep don’t starve to death from lack of food or water, and they protect the sheep from predators as well as from snake bites, diseases, and dangers in the fields (i.e. deep holes, steep drop-offs, etc.).
Jesus’ ministry to the people of Israel was one motivated by compassion. Compassion is love in action. The condition of the people in which Jesus found Himself is stated clearly - they were like sheep without a shepherd. They existed, but they really didn’t live life as God intended. They were estranged from Him. They may have known God’s Law as taught and interpreted by the priests, but they didn’t really know God - they had no personal relationship with Him. That’s why Jesus came.
These people were ‘distressed’ (harassed and troubled) and ‘dispirited’ (‘thrown down’ or depressed and dejected). Jesus came to save these people. He came to lift their spirit, give them hope, and free them from the tyranny of the godless priests that hindered them. He came to open their eyes to the truth of God, and to open the door to the Kingdom of God to them. He has come to do the same for each of us.
We live in a world much like the world Jesus lived in. Religions abound, but few know the true and living God. Promises of a good life, prosperous life, freedom from tyranny, oppression, diseases, etc. were the desires of every person. Governing authorities promise these things, but they can’t deliver these things. Only Jesus can provide what man is looking for and needs. When we call on Him to save us, He answers with the salvation only God can provide.
“Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your kindness and compassion toward us. We live in a lost a dying world, in a decaying culture, in a society that promises us everything we want in life, but can’t deliver what we need in life. Thank You for the gift of life, abundant life, and for eternal life. Help me to share this life in Jesus with others so they too can be lifted up and blessed by Your grace, mercy, compassion, and salvation. Amen.”