The Presence, Compassion and Prayerfulness of Jesus

by Rob Tims

I came across Matthew 9:35-38 recently and was struck by how present Jesus was.

35 Jesus continued going around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”

It is all too easy to “minister” in a detached and sanitary manner … to “help” people to the extent that it doesn’t overly involve or inconvenience us. Not so Jesus. As vv. 35-36 illustrate, He was very present … mindful of the people He ministered to in an intimate way.

This mindfulness led to compassion, which is arguably the distinguishing characteristic of true Christians from legalists. Followers of Jesus look upon others in need with similar compassion, while legalists treat them with contempt. Followers of Jesus have compassion on others because they are joyfully confident in the grace of God to change lives. Legalists are pessimistic about the ability of others to meet the legalist’s standard, so they treat them as less than. They help them only in so much as it might help themselves.

Yet Jesus had compassion, driven by mindfulness, and this led to prayerfulness that more would become compassionate (v. 38).

Jesus was present, compassionate and prayerful that you and I would be present, compassionate and prayerful. What adjustments need to be made in your life in order that you might be more mindful of people than task … that you might have genuine compassion rather than disdain … that you might be broken for the abundant harvest and pray for workers to join you in it?

Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.

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