Posted by: donnatallman | January 4, 2013

De-stressing Distressed Sheep

Considering Jesus Challenge

 Matthew 9:36

Day Four: January 4, 2013, Friday

Throughout the month of January we have been looking at different aspects of Jesus’ life and character from a passage of scripture. Each day I’ll give you a verse to meditate on, and then we’ll all see what God shows us from the same passage. To those of you who have joined me in this adventure, thanks for your input and participation. Remember that our goal is to learn more about this tender shepherd who cares so deeply for his sheep.

Verse to meditate on:

“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

Seeing the people

Whenever I’ve come across the word crowds or masses in the Bible, I’ve always imagined Jesus standing alone on a hillside facing hundreds of people. As his eyes pan the large audience, Jesus sees only a blur of color as the waning afternoon sun glares in his eyes. In my mind I have imagined indistinguishable masses, but in my prayer this morning I sensed something different.

“Seeing the people,” the verse says. Jesus noticed more than a sea of faces; he saw each individual who comprised the throng following him. He saw past their number to sense their worry, discern their need, and step in with an antidote for their pain. If someone needed healing, he healed him. Forgiveness? He pardoned. Freedom? He released them. Truth? He confronted. Despite the crowd’s vast numbers, Jesus never lost touch with the individuals who sought him.

If I think too much about the billions of people that inhabit this planet, I can spiral into feeling tiny and insignificant before the God that I love. Unfortunately, there have also been times when I’ve felt forgotten by God in the midst of all that humanity. When I’m tempted to go to a discouraging place, I’m often reminded of the woman in Mark 5:25 who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years. Jesus was on his way to heal someone else, the crowds were pressing in around him, and this woman was at her end. She was desperate. As she reached out to touch Jesus, he stopped everything to care for her.

By stopping in the midst of all the chaos to minister to the woman, Jesus was saying, “You matter to me. Your cries, your pain, and your anxiety have not gone unnoticed. I see you, I know how much you’ve suffered, and I will lift your burden,”

Jesus sees me; he sees you. Whatever you’re facing…he knows.

He felt compassion for them

Because I love to study so much, I have to be careful to not divorce Jesus’ emotions from the events and/or episodes recorded in the Bible. Jesus was fully God and fully man when he walked this earth, so his emotions are also an important component to every story written about him. God’s love and purpose for sending Jesus are demonstrated through Jesus’ expression of emotion.

Sometimes it can feel like Jesus came to earth on assignment, did his Father’s bidding, and then returned to eternity without connecting to the people and/or places down here. That’s absolutely not the case. Jesus’ mission to seek and to save the lost manifested itself most tangibly through his compassion. He did connect to the people he met. Jesus felt their pain and grieved their sorrow. He loved his disciples dearly and his heart was vested in them. Jesus didn’t “just” come to die – he came to rescue, to love, to change, and to touch. Jesus saw, he stopped, he cared, and he cried.

They were distressed

As Jesus looked out over the crowds and saw into the hearts of the individuals following him, he could see they felt harassed. They were agitated and full of anxiety. We all know people who live in a constant state of distress. These are people who believe they have no resource to answer what’s troubling them so they move to a place of fear. If they feed on that fear long enough, they will enter a never-ending spin cycle of self-induced anxiety.

Jesus sees your distress. He wants to resource you.

They were dispirited

Being dispirited is a lot different than being distressed. While distressed is irritated and annoyed, dispirited describes the person who has completely lost hope. People cannot live without hope. The faces Jesus saw in the crowd in Matthew 9:36 were ones whose troubles had grown so large that they could not see beyond them. As a result, they had forgotten God’s assurance for the present and his promises for their future. Everything had gone gray. They looked at their needs, they looked at the obstacles they needed to overcome, evaluated the disparity, and lost hope. They knew they couldn’t improve their own situation.

But Jesus could if they would let him.

They were like sheep without a shepherd

People who have been ground down by life’s difficulties and believe there are no solutions, will wander like sheep without a shepherd. They will feel lost, aimless, without vision, uncared for, unloved, abandoned, forgotten, and vulnerable to sickness and/or injury.

When a situation seems hopeless, ask God to raise up a shepherd/leader who will see to the root of the problem, have compassion for those affected, offer solutions for the way through, and apply the moral strength to get it done.

Since this challenge is about “considering Jesus,” I wanted to try and summarize what I learned about him today from Matthew 9:36.

Jesus has compassion for our heartaches and he will lead us through each one of them with his great love and care.

Considering Jesus Challenge Passage for Tomorrow January 5, 2013:

“And He continued by questioning them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered and said to Him, ‘You are the Christ.’” Mark 8:29

© Copyright, 2013 by Donna Tallman.




  1. Oh Donna, this verse and post so spoke to me. I have been asking God to give me HIS heart for people. As I read this passage and your thoughts I recognized that by His grace this was happening in me. Hallelujah! Have a wonderful day, dear lady. Look forward to your next post and am forwarding this on to a few other folks.

    • Thanks, Sue…I was seriously challenged to “see” the people around me like Jesus does. Not just to pass them by or assume all humanity struggles – to really see them and all God to use me to help relieve their distress and restore their hope again! On to today’s journey! 🙂

  2. Looking for tomorrow’s scripture…I hope you had a great day.

    • Sorry to be so long at the fair today! Just posted tomorrow’s verse on the right hand side of the blog – under the picture of Jesus. Tomorrow we’ll look at Luke 9:46-48. Thanks for taking this journey.

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