This post is written to link with Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one word prompt. The prompt today is “need.”
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36 NLT)
Jesus looked at the crowds and he saw their need- they needed a shepherd, someone to care for them to guide them and direction, to give them purpose and security.
As I look around me, I also see people in great need, and I see them trying to fulfil these needs in a variety of ways. Striving for success, seeking fame, looking to find fulfilment in relationships… Sometimes struggling and turning to food or alcohol or escapism to numb the pain, sometimes thinking it will all be okay if only they try harder and reach that next goal, sometimes finding what they seek to some degree, but still left with the feeling that something is missing.
“Confused and helpless” sums it up well, because what they need is hope and purpose. What they need is Jesus.
The trouble is they often can’t see how Jesus could possibly meet their needs. Surely the Bible is outdated and irrelevant, a life of following Jesus is one of rules and restrictions, the claim that there is absolute truth is misplaced in a multi-faith society.
Sometimes it seems hopeless to even try to help them see.
But then I remember that they are not sheep without a shepherd. Yes, they are lost and wandering, but they are sheep with a shepherd who knows and cares for each one individually, who lovingly pursues them, the good shepherd who gave up his life for his sheep and will go to any length to find them and to bring them back.
And we are called to play our part in helping them find their way: by living a life that is different, by holding to the truth, by loving radically, by telling others of the hope we have, by showing them that we have what they need, and it is available for them too.
We have a hope and a purpose, and his name is Jesus.
“Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night.” (Philippians 2:15-16 The Message)