But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
Why Men Are Weary
The sheep is an animal wholly dependent upon someone to care, protect, and provide for them. When God created the sheep, He did not instill any means of protection like large teeth or razor-sharp claws. The feet of a lamb cannot deliver him from the fierce attack of a lion or bear. There is little a flock of sheep can do against wolves who come to feed. By themselves, the sheep are the most helpless of animals. Left to themselves, they would wander about without direction and starve to death or die of thirst. The only salvation sheep have is a shepherd’s guidance, protection, and care.
God created the sheep to be helpless, and God created man to be powerless. A lion is a fierce beast who devours its foe with ease. The instincts of the lion will find food and water. A lion is independent and singular in its purpose. This is not the case with the poor lamb, which cannot protect itself or provide its own nourishment. The nature of a man is like that of a lamb. God created humanity to be a creature wholly dependent upon the blessings of the Creator. The difference between a lamb and a man is that man was created in the image of God. He can choose evil or good, light or darkness, and righteousness or unrighteousness. Made in the image of God separates man from animals, but more often, the animals know God better than man. The ox knows its master’s crib. Man refuses to acknowledge that God is his Creator. With all the blessings of creation where man is created in God’s image, he struggles with accepting the will of God.
Jesus saw the people in the way a shepherd looks upon aimless sheep. Multitudes followed Jesus to hear His teaching and to be healed of their diseases. The miracles of Jesus were to confirm that He was the Son of God, but most people saw only the miracles. Jesus taught the word of the Father, and most turned a dull ear. The work of Jesus was complete with signs, wonders, and miracles confirming the message of salvation to a lost world; and often, at the end of the day, Jesus could only see the people as sheep without a shepherd.
The people that followed Jesus were weary, harassed, scattered, and helpless. This was not in an economic, political, or religious sense. What Jesus saw lacking in the people was a spiritual purpose. They were burdened under the weight of a failed religious system that exalted the rich and oppressed the poor. The Jewish teachers had corrupted the Law of Moses to their advantage at the cost of the people. Jesus taught as one with authority, not like the scribes. The people were amazed at the teaching of Jesus because it was direct and true. He fed the people the pure manna of God’s word. Those who followed the teachings of Jesus found peace in His word because it gave them purpose and direction. Jesus was sad when He looked upon the multitude and saw they looked so helpless.
Jesus came to take away the hopeless spirit of a destitute world. The Son of God came to seek and save the lost. There would always be the poor among the nations of the world, but Jesus came to give life to those dead in sin. The world is filled with helpless, wandering, aimless lives of people who seem fine on the outside but are inwardly empty shells. Jesus wants His people to see the fields are white to harvest in sharing the good news of Christ to a lost and dying world. We must recognize the need to show a world full of empty shells: Jesus Christ. Sheep without a shepherd – need a shepherd. Your neighbor without Christ – needs Christ.