“They were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
One of Jesus’ main motives for ministry was the knowledge of man’s lost condition. He saw the people He lived among in the reality of their need. He was moved by their diseases and sickness, and He healed every one of them (v. 35). But He was moved even more deeply by the deepest need that most of the multitude did not even know they had—to be freed from their bondage to sin. He saw their hearts, and He knew that inwardly “they were distressed and dispirited.”
Jesus saw the multitudes as being inwardly devastated by their sinful and hopeless condition. The idea behind “dispirited” is to be thrown down prostrate and utterly helpless. Jesus saw the dispirited multitudes as sheep without a shepherd to protect and care for them.
Those who claimed to be the shepherds of the multitude were the scribes and Pharisees, yet it was those very shepherds who were largely responsible for the people’s confusion and hopelessness. The people were spiritually led by uncaring, unloving leaders who should have been meeting their spiritual needs. That’s why Jesus calls the people “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6)—God’s chosen people who had been left to perish.
Begin to develop Jesus’ motive for ministry as your own. Take every opportunity to introduce others to the Great Shepherd.
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610