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February 18 | Matthew 9:27-38


 

DAILY READING

 

REFLECTION


Sheep without a Shepherd

by Mary Alice McGinnis

A few years ago, I was reading a devotion on faith and bravery. The question posed was, “If you had one question, one thing you desperately want to ask God but were too afraid to put into words, what would it be?”


For me it was the dreadful “why" question. “Why did I experience so much hardship, betrayal, and suffering in my life? Why have so many terrible things happened?”


I have often felt harassed and helpless like those Jesus had compassion on in today’s text.


“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”


Hmm. Like a sheep without a shepherd.


The Greek word here for harassed literally means “to flay” or “mangle.” Sheep without a shepherd are unprotected.


The Greek word for helpless means to be cast down, to be thrown to the ground, and in desperate need of care. Sheep without a shepherd are vulnerable and powerless.


Without a shepherd, sheep soon find themselves wandering off onto unsafe paths, getting stuck in thickets of thorns, stumbling, falling, or being helplessly thrown down by a predator. Each of these could result in their skin being ripped open causing open wounds, mangling injury or in desperate need of rescue.



Jesus is our One and Only GOOD Shepherd.


At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus announces:


The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)


In Matthew chapters 8 and 9, the Gospel writer recounts the many ways Jesus had done these very miracles—proclaimed good news, given sight to the blind, set the oppressed free. Etc. There were so many people with so many needs, and Jesus had compassion on all of them.


Have you felt the pain of feeling harassed, ripped open by foolish wandering? Have you gotten so stuck that prying free caused you pain? Have you felt preyed upon and mangled beyond repair by someone who sought to harm you?


How did Jesus meet your needs in those times? Where did you see the hand of the Good Shepherd protecting or healing you? Whom else did He send to care for and nurture you? Where are you needing to feel Jesus' compassion today?


“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)


We who have experienced our Good Shepherd’s healing care are called to pour that same healing care into the lives of those around us.


Jesus calls us to notice the fields ripe for a plentiful harvest all around us. But we so easily get distracted and busy ourselves with things we think are important.


Just like Jesus drove out the demon of the mute, through our experiences He also drives us out into His harvest fields to join Him - the Lord of the Harvest - in His bountiful work.


He is calling each of us to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” The LORD of the Harvest is bringing a plentiful harvest. He has planted the seeds of His story through the miracles of His love and grace in each of our lives. He wants us to join Him in the work of harvesting of those seeds.


PRAYER

Lord, drive out my muteness. Open my lips that I may declare Your praise. Open my blind eyes to see those who need Your compassion. Thank You for being My Good Shepherd. You are the Lord of the Harvest. Thank You for the glorious privilege of working along side of You in Your Kingdom. Compel me more and more to join You in this bountiful work of grace.



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