How does God feel about the suffering and pain of the current COVID situation today? The account of Jesus walking about the cities and villages of Galilee in Israel 2000 years ago is most revealing:
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 distress and downcast, 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.
We often are struck by God’s manifest demonstration of His power through Jesus Christ in healing every sickness and disease, casting out demons, healing the blind and deaf and raising the dead.
But what is not necessarily seen by most is what was in Jesus’ heart as He did all these powerful ministries.
“BUT WHEN HE SAW THE MULTITUDES, HE WAS MOVED WITH COMPASSION FOR THEM, BECAUSE THEY WERE IN DISTRESS AND DOWNCAST, LIKE SHEEP HAVING NO SHEPHERD.”
Many people were following Jesus. Everywhere He went, they were sure to go. Some came to watch and listen. Some came for healing or deliverance. All were amazed by His miracles. Seeing the multitudes, Jesus saw their physical and emotional pain, but he also saw their spiritual blindness and the lost condition of men and women. As a result, He felt compassion (cared) for them.
The Greek word in this for Compassion is splagchnizomai. It means to be moved; have pity; to have mercy; to have concern and to suffer with. The Gospels are filled with examples of Jesus’ compassion:
When Jesus heard (that John the Baptist was beheaded), he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
After healing many people on a mountainside in Galilee; “Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.
On the mountainside “Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.
This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: He took up our sicknesses and carried our diseases.
Jesus’ compassion caused Him to feel the pain and distress that sickness and disease brings. When children are very sick and diseased, their parents suffer with them out of compassion. How much more does Jesus suffer when His people are sick and diseased with sin?
Mary was weeping over the death of her brother, Lazarus;
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
The phrase “deeply moved in spirit” means, physical, emotional and spiritual anguish, grief, sorrow, distress. Jesus knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead; however, He felt their pain so closely that it caused Him to cry.
Although Jesus was grieved and disappointed that His own people rejected Him, instead of being angry, He had compassion on them.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.
Distressed in Greek is Skullo. It means troubled, worn out, beat down.
Downcast in Greek is Rhipto. It means thrown down, helpless, defenceless.
Then Jesus 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.
Jesus asks all of us who are following Him today; Who will go to the distressed and downcast people of the world today? Who will tell the people the good news of Jesus? Jesus said, “The workers are few.” This is His solution to the problem: Pray to the Lord of the Harvest for more compassionate workers.
As disciples of Jesus, our first responsibility is to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send workers into the harvest. When we regularly and sincerely pray for The Lord to send His compassionate workers into His harvest, we not only obey this command but also, we are committing our lives to be His workers filled with compassion for the helpless and defenceless people.