Matthew 9:36, NIV, says that on Jesus’ third Galilean tour, “When He ( Jesus) saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” The previous verse of Matthew 9:35 lets us know what Jesus did on His second Galilean tour. The Bible says Jesus was teaching, preaching, and healing the sick. Now when Jesus saw the crowds He was moved because they were like sheep with no shepherd.
The nature of a shepherd toward his sheep is one of the best ways to describe compassion. The word compassion brings to our senses a suggestion of kindness, care, good treatment, concern, and yes, even love. So I envision Jesus looking caringly and lovingly on the crowds because He sees their weaknesses, their great needs. The crowds in Jesus’ day needed His compassion—we, today, need it even more.
I am very happy that there has been an emphasis on hosting compassion marches and special compassion emphasis days throughout our union territory. The Adventist Youth Ministries has taken these initiatives to create and demonstrate this unique Christian quality in our cities. This is something every follower of Jesus should do—daily demonstrate Christ-like compassion. But the challenge with such an undertaking is great. Only by being a new creation in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17) can we truly model the depth and breadth of Jesus’ compassion.
Seeing that the forces of evil have created such havoc and desperation among our young people, communities, and senior populations, our world is very much in need of genuine care. Do we really need a reminder that our world needs compassion, that our world needs the Christian graces, acts of forgiveness, acts of mercy, and love from and among us human beings? The answer is a resounding Yes!
Our world needs all the compassion, all the unselfish love and concern it can see and experience. But who will give it? I hope you will decide to join that march, or that personal endeavor as a Christian and demonstrate by your words, your looks, and your gestures those wonderful graces of Christian compassion. When we demonstrate instead of merely speaking about compassion, we move the witness of Jesus’ love to a reality which is more than just words.
May God’s Spirit be allowed to transform our lives daily so that we can model His compassion every day of 2015.
Carlyle C. Simmons is the Atlantic Union Conference executive secretary and director of the Health Ministries, Human Relations, and Prayer Ministries departments.