ODJ: empty

January 13, 2016 

READ: Matthew 9:35-38 

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on thembecause they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (v.36).

Author and psychologist Madeline Levine once met with a 15-year-old girl who was “bright, personable, highly pressured by her adoring, but frequently preoccupied . . . parents.” Levine recognized the girl’s “cutter disguise”—a long-sleeve T-shirt pulled halfway over her hand with an opening torn in the cuff for her thumb. When the young girl pulled back her sleeve, Levine was startled to find what the girl had carved into her forearm: “EMPTY” . . . sadness and confusion personified.

Jesus meets our emptiness with deep compassion. As He conducted His itinerant ministry, teaching and preaching the good news, He observed the crowds (Matthew 9:36). The people were perpetually hurting, bewildered, and defeated, having been flayed by life and the spiritual abuse of religious leaders. They were like sheep hounded by wolves, having no shepherd to guide and protect them. Matthew wrote, “When he saw the crowds, [Jesus] had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (v.36). His passion for the needs of the crowd caused Him to ask His disciples to pray for workers to go out and continue His ministry to a lost world (vv.37-38).

As we open our eyes and hearts we see that there are hurting and empty people all around us. We shouldn’t look at them with fear, but with compassion—displaying an attitude of mercy toward their needs that ultimately grows into action as we seek appropriate ways to help. As we hold out the truth that Jesus carried our sins on the cross and that by His wounds we are healed, His compassion flows from us and fills those who are lost in emptiness.

—Marvin Williams

365-day-plan: Genesis 22:1-19

Read Luke 19:10 and John 10:10 and note why Jesus came to rescue us. 
How has Jesus’ compassion touched your life? Who in your sphere of influence is empty and needs His compassion? How can you provide it this week?