Seeing the people, He (Jesus) felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.
Lets put this passage in Context. Previously in Matthew is the sermon on the Mt. You will find that the gospel has cycles of teaching and healing this is one of them. Jesus was teaching the Sermon on the Mount. Then he has been healing.
Right before this text, the Pharisees have accused Jesus of casting out demons by the ruler of demons. They are doubting him and looking at him with contempt.
Then Matt 9:35 there is a bit of a transition,
It says Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
Jesus is teaching and healing, He is preaching in the synagogues, He is looking out at the people of the crowds and He feels compassion for them. He has seen their situation and He feels compassion for them.
To understand what is going on here we must understand what this compassion means.
Dictionary.com defines compassion this way:
-a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
This is ok, but this word that Matthew is using is so much deeper than this.
Matthew Barkley in his commentary says this, “σπλαγχνίζομαι (Spla-giz-o-my) is the strongest word for pity in the Greek language. It is formed from the word splagchna, which means the bowels, and it describes the compassion which moves people to the deepest depths of their being. In the gospels, apart from its use in some of the parables, it is used only of Jesus.
This word is not just feeling sorry for someone cause they are hungry, this is much much deeper.
This word is basically like a mothers compassion for a child, a pain for someone else's suffering combined with a deep desire to help them.
This is compassion, rooted deep inside. Do you desire for others to have a better situation? Do you see them with compassion like God? Perhaps what we are missing is that if we realize that God also is looking at us in this manner. He wants our situation to be better, so much so that it hurts Him deep inside Himself to see our pain. God wants the best for you.
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Ryan Hodgins, pastor, coach. Married to a gorgeous wife. Father to three girls. I need this epic walk.
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