May 09, 2009

The Crowds

Matthew 9:35-38

[Jesus] had compassion on them, because they were … like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36


Jesus brought the good news of salvation into the synagogues and to the crowds in “all the towns and villages.” We must aim to follow this example, or we may find one day that we have lost our audience. If our pastors, missionaries, and church members express the good news only in church, how will the people in our communities hear about God’s love for them?

To the religious leaders in Jesus’ day, the crowds were what aristocrats used to call “the great unwashed.” Many of the people had stopped going to the synagogue on the Sabbath, the traditional worship day. The religious leaders drew back their holy robes rather than be contaminated by associating with lepers, corrupt tax collectors, prostitutes, and Samaritans. But Jesus was not afraid of such people. He had compassion “because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” He gladly sat down and ate with them.

Today the urgency not to be hidden away in our churches, knowing only a circle of believers, remains the same. Rebecca Pippert, an evangelist among college students, wrote a book called Pizza Parlor Evangelism that captures Jesus’ evangelistic attitude for our day. Let’s be friends with non-Christians too; let’s eat with them, get to know them, and share the good news of Christ as opportunities arise today.

Lord, guide us from losing sight of our compassion for lost people amid the busyness of church commitments and a zeal for taking care of details that may be less urgent. Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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