Overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro is the world’s largest statue constructed between 1922 and 1932, Christ the Redeemer. It is an amazing picture for the whole of Brazil’s Christian faith. Christ the Redeemer has His arms stretched out to the whole world today. No one is beyond His reach.
“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9 v 35-37)
The crowds were there. They can be found. Jesus moved throughout the region, teaching, proclaiming and healing and as he did he saw them, the harassed and helpless crowds, directionless and uncared for.
We only see what is there when we move.
They were not led by still waters instead their lives were storm-raged and rudderless.
What had happened to these people?
Who was to blame? Them or their shepherds? Maybe both.
The Bible is full of a God who loves as a shepherd.
Joseph described God, “God who has been my shepherd all my life” (Genesis 48:15)
Isaiah prophesies, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” (40:11)
And of course David says, “The Lord is my shepherd.” (Psalm 23:1)
This shepherd is the defender of the vulnerable.
Our God was and is always on the side of the powerless and of justice for the poor, needy and vulnerable.
Most people who are downtrodden by abusive power are those who had little power to begin with, God gives them particular attention and has a special place in his heart for them.
The word ‘compassion’ comes from the words to ‘suffer with’ and is rooted in God’s covenant with us His people. He came to us, suffered for us and rose so that we might also be raised.
He saved you. He heard you. He turned to you. He was gracious to you. He gave righteousness to you. He protected you. He has been good to you. He delivered you. He dried your eyes. He steadied your feet. He brought you to life. In the presence of suffering, in the presence of liars, in the presence of all His people, even in the presence of death, He freed you, freed you to serve, freed you to praise and freed you to live. For the ones who have fallen on hard times. For the tattered and the torn and those who have been forgotten. For the ones that have run out of second chances, burnt every bridge, and hit rock bottom… You are never too dirty, never too deep, never too far, to find hope, find relief, to find a Compassionate Saviour. You were once part of the crowds and now you are called to move towards them.
Today may God open your eyes to see what Jesus sees.
Today may your heart be broken for the broken.
Today may you not give up until those around you are helped.
Don’t run from the mission God has called you to, but be the follower of Christ in the mission to the crowds.