How many people do you see in one week, one month, or one year? When we look at them, do we really “see” them? Let’s turn to Matthew 9:35-38 to understand how Jesus “saw” people.
From Matthew 9:35 we find that Jesus had three areas of focus in ministry—teaching, preaching and healing. As Jesus touched people through these three avenues of outreach, what was going on inside of our Lord? Verses thirty-six through thirty-eight help us answer this question. Matthew wrote that Jesus was “moved with compassion when He saw the multitudes.” The Greek word translated “saw” or “having seen” in verse 36 is eido. This word is not about seeing on the surface, but more deeply. Eido is “seeing with knowledge or understanding.” When Jesus looked at people, He looked “at people.” He looked with understanding. In verse thirty-six He saw people who were distraught, bewildered, and scattered. They were “like sheep without a shepherd.” This kind of seeing with understanding that saw not just people, but also saw their needs stirred Jesus in His innermost being.
The word translated “compassion” is sometimes translated “bowels of compassion,” because it is describing the deep yearning and concern within a person. Jesus was moved with compassion toward the crowd of people, because He saw needs—hurting and needy people.
The needs are great, so much so that Jesus turned to His disciples and said “the harvest is much, but the workers are few.” How tragic! So many hurting people—so many needs and so few workers. For this reason, Jesus challenged the disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. This is not casual prayer, but heart wrenching prayer. This word for prayer is used to describe the prayer of a leper who fell on his face before Jesus pleading to be healed (Luke 5:12). This is the prayer of a father whose only child was oppressed by an evil spirit (Luke 9:38). If we can learn to see people the way Jesus sees people, maybe we could learn to pray with this kind of passion for workers in the harvest.
The three areas of ministry focus in our Sunday School classes are: teaching, reaching, and ministering. This follows the pattern of our Lord’s ministry. The focus is right, but how do we see people? Do you see people the way Jesus sees people?
Dr. Robert Franklin, © 2016