The Heart of the Soul-Winner: Filled with Compassion

by Steven Chan

What motivated God to send Jesus to save the world? The Bible tells us that “for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.”(John 3:16). It was God’s love for man that moved Him to allow His Son to die on the cross as a propitiation for our sins. He did it while we were yet sinners: “But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”(Rom 5:8).

What motivated Jesus to save the world? The Bible tells us in Matt 9:36 that “when he saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd.”  It was His compassion for man that moved Him to reach out to save man.

His compassion resulted from Him seeing man as being “distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd.”  Jesus is concerned about us being distressed and scattered. He knows that we are distressed and troubled by many concerns.  He also noticed that we are all scattered, each going about his own way and striving to go through life on his own, separated from God and from each other.  He knows that we are in need of a shepherd.

He addresses our concerns by comforting us that He has compassion for us and He wants to be our shepherd. In John 10:10-11, Jesus said: “I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep.” In 1 Pet 2:24-25, the Bible declares that Jesus “His own self bare our sins in His body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were going astray like sheep; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”

Each of us need not walk alone through this life; Jesus adds us to His Body, the church: Through His sacrifice on the cross, He “reconciles (us) in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and He came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh: for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father. So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph 2:16-19).

We are no longer strangers, neither to God nor to one another, for we all now belong in the family of God. No longer scattered, we have now returned to the fold of God under Jesus, the chief shepherd (I Pet 5:4). In Matt 23:37, the Bible records what Jesus said about His concern for the people: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” It is God’s plan for man that we be gathered together under His wings of protection. Sadly, some still would not go under His protection.

It would be sad and tragic indeed that in spite of the Lord bringing us under His wings of protection, and adding us to His family, that some of us still remain in the state of “distress and being scattered”.  That ought not to be the case. In 1 Pet 5:7 we are counseled to “cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He careth for you.”

Because of His compassion, Jesus saith “unto his disciples, the harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest. And he called unto Him his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of disease and all manner of sickness.” (Matt 9:37-38, 10:1).  Jesus was concerned that the few labourers may not be enough to reach out to those who are “distressed and scattered” and so, He asked His disciples to pray for the Lord to send more laborers into the field of harvest and He Himself empowered the twelve disciples in Matt 10:1 so that they could go out and help those who are “distressed and scattered” – that they might be brought back into the fold of God under Him as the chief shepherd.

The heart of Jesus was filled with compassion when He saw the people were “distressed and scattered” and it was that compassion for the people that moved Him to ask for more laborers to be sent into the field of harvest.  Do we have the heart of compassion? If we have, then we will be MOVED to be the laborers in God’s field, to sow the seed and to harvest lost souls into God’s family.

In John 4:34-36, Jesus saith unto them, “my meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to accomplish His work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white already unto harvest. He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; that he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”

Is it our meat or food to do the will of our Father and to accomplish His work? Some today seemed to act as if we have already done the will of our Father and we have accomplished His work. Are we resting when we should be working?  In John 9:4, Jesus said: “We must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” There will come a time when we can no longer work. So, while there’s yet time, let’s have the heart of compassion and do the work of God so that we may accomplish it.