Our Compassionate Savior
“When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he was moved with compassion for them because they were troubled and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
Do any of these adjectives describe you? I think lately in one way or another we have all felt a little troubled and downcast. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus shows us one of his strongest traits: his compassion.
The compassion of Jesus here in this account moved him to do something about the hurt that was so prevalent: He sent his twelve disciples with power and authority. He sent them carrying his Word, his life-changing message of salvation through faith in him as the Son of God and Savior of the world.
This message is unlike anything that world can provide, and in a way, we can say that it is exclusively inclusive. We’re told that in one sense, Christianity is the most exclusive religion in the world in that there is only one single way to be saved. Jesus himself says in John 14, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Salvation is found in no one else. It’s only in Jesus. It isn’t in giving enough money, or doing enough good deeds, or trying hard enough. It’s only Jesus. It’s only believing that he is the Son of God, and that through his perfect life and sacrificial death on the cross that our sins are forgiven and we get to enter through that narrow gate that leads to eternal life.
But in another sense, we can also say that Christianity is the most inclusive religion in the world. Because while there is only one way to heaven, that way is open for all. It’s not dependent on anything we are or anything we do – it depends entirely on Jesus.
God’s Word, the Bible, clearly teaches that all are perfectly equal – we each deserve exactly the same treatment. Because of sin, we are all equally deserving of the punishment of hell. And that hard-to-stomach truth is not dependent on the color of your skin or in what country your ancestors were born. But just as we are all equal in deserving damnation, we also are equal in how valuable we are in the eyes of our God. When you look at someone who is different from yourself, remember that God loves them in exactly the same way he loves you. His is a love so deep that it moved him to send his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer hell in their place, so that the narrow path to eternal life could be open to them as well, just as it has been opened to you. This is the powerful Gospel message that changes hearts, and we are blessed to be able to share it. Pray that the Holy Spirit would send out workers into his harvest field, and pray for those workers already serving there. Pray also that the Lord will provide opportunities for you to talk about your loving, compassionate Savior with your friends and neighbors. During difficult times that cause us to be troubled and downcast, our Lord Jesus brings us the joy of our salvation. He also reminds us that while we are in this world, we will have trouble – but take heart, because he has overcome the world, and through faith has made his victory ours!
Have a blessed, restful and healthy summer. Come to God’s house for worship as you have the opportunity. And remember that Jesus, our gracious Lord and loving friend, is always with us.