Friday, July 20, 2012

Teaching is the response

Now from what I’ve read, sheep without a shepherd just eat the grass in front of them until there is none left, and then they stand there looking at each other, wondering what to do next. If someone doesn’t prod them and move them to where there is more grass, they’ll starve to death. They can’t find it for themselves, even if it is only a hundred yards away. They cannot meet their own physical needs. But I’d be willing to bet the crowd Jesus was looking at weren’t starving to death waiting for someone to show them more food.

What Jesus saw in that crowd that made Him have such compassion was what you still see today when you look at any gathering of people except a gathering of people who’ve already been well taught by Jesus: people who are depressed because they don’t know what the purpose of their lives is, or who are in pain because they are barely on speaking terms a family member or because they have lost their job, or people who are coveting their neighbour’s bank account; people who are dysfunctional in some way so they are turning to alcohol or drugs or sex. That’s what Jesus saw when he looked at that crowd, and He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, spiritually rather than physically. They needed spiritual help, and didn’t know where to turn for it. He knew their need, and His heart ached for them; He felt the same way we do when we are healthy and see a friend sick, or when we have a good marriage and see a friend’s marriage in trouble—we wish with all our heart we could do something that would make a difference. Jesus felt the same way, but He could do something that made a difference, and He did it: He began to teach them many things.

Jesus’s response to our helplessness is teaching, because He knows we need understanding of our situation, and the only way we can get it is to learn from Him. He knows how we were designed, we only know what our disobedient natures tell us. Without his teaching, we are spiritually helpless. With it, our lives begin to recover God’s original purpose for them.