Predictably, the crowds grew even larger and more unmanageable. Although Rabbi Yeshua found His proclamation of the gospel continually hampered by the large crowds, He did not turn the people away. When He saw them, He felt compassion for them. Compassion involves empathy for others and acting on their behalf to meet their needs. The Master performed His miracles as acts of compassion to meet the physical needs of those He saw. He did not do signs, wonders, or magic tricks to impress people or to establish His prophetic credibility. He only sought to meet people’s needs.
Compassion for the crowds of Jewish people stirred in the Master’s heart because He saw them “distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). The metaphor appears frequently in scripture. In the Torah, Moses likens himself to a shepherd and the nation to a flock. He implores God to raise up a leader after him “so that the congregation of the LORD will not be like sheep which have no shepherd” (Numbers 27:17). In the Prophets, the metaphor describes the role of the king. For example, when the prophet Micaiah predicted the defeat and death of King Ahab, he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep which have no shepherd” (1 Kings 22:17). A pertinent and often overlooked passage from Ezekiel condemns the kings of the Judean monarchy as irresponsible shepherds who failed to care for the flock:
Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. (Ezekiel 34:4-6)
Compassion stirring in His heart, Yeshua strengthened the sickly, healed the diseased, bound up the broken, and sought after the lost sheep of Israel. He proved Himself a shepherd worthy of fulfilling Ezekiel’s prophecy about Messiah shepherding Israel: “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd” (Ezekiel 37:24).
King Yeshua is a shepherd you can trust with your problems.