“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mat 9:36).
Such were the feelings of Jesus when He looked at the masses. People, desperately searching for what they felt was missing in their lives. “Harassed and helpless,” confused and deceived, led astray by sin. This is also what He sees in people today, while his heart is full of compassion and sorrow over their spiritual future.
Heart of Flesh
When we become Christians and by the power of God’s Spirit in us start resembling Jesus more and more, our view of other people also changes. We regard them with the loving eyes and the compassionate heart of Jesus. We can harden our hearts and resist this work of the Spirit within us, for God does not force us against our will. But if we remain open to Him, He gradually replaces our old heart with his own, “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek 36:26). When we are really open to the way Jesus wants to change us, we soon find that his heart and his compassion become the motivating factors in our life.
Obviously, this was exactly what had happened to the man who was so hard at work on one of India’s sandy beaches. Every single afternoon that week you could see him carrying his strange machines. Jacob, for that was his name, came to the same spot every day to install his equipment: a box with a lamp in it on an old tripod, more black containers, a couple of chairs, and a big white sheet. The children had heard the news from their friends and they soon crowded around him. Others ran back to get their parents and neighbors. And when evening fell there were thousands of people sitting in the sand, ready for the show.
Jacob’s wife sings songs of praise, while their young son invites more passers-by. And then, suddenly, colorful pictures fill the screen. The people fall silent. And the boxes tell a story, the story of a man called Jesus.
Flesh and Blood
This is how Jacob now brings the Gospel. And thousands of people have given their lives to the Lord through his ministry. But at the outset it had been difficult. First, he had gone into the streets handing out Gospel tracts, which the people gratefully accepted but never read. How could they, since they had never learned how to read. Jacob soon understood he needed another approach. A film projector and sound equipment, that was the solution. But where would he ever find the money? Maybe he could sell something? But he owned nothing of value. Except, of course… The next day he could be found at the blood bank, and as many days after that as the doctors would allow, until he could purchase all he needed. And now he is a well-known evangelist, the man of the “Jesus movie”. A man who allowed God to replace his heart of stone with a heart of flesh. A man, moved with compassion over the harassed and helpless masses going astray like sheep without a shepherd. A man, through whom many people found their way to God.
Love in Action
“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field'” (Mat 9:36-38). The Lord wants to fill our hearts with his love. So that we see the crowds, the people of the world, the way He sees them, moved with compassion for each and every one. But that is only the beginning. The beginning of love turned into action. For right after that He asks us to pray and get involved in word and in deed.
Would you pray today that the Lord will send many men like Jacob, with a heart of flesh, into the harvest field of India, and that He will move the hearts of many western Christians to stand with these brothers in faithful prayer and financial support.