Emily Belle Freeman
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THIS IS MY JOY

AND MY GREAT REJOICING

A Compassionate Detour

Matthew 9:5 - Matthew 12:33

Both of my sons are in the moment of transition where they are about to leap from children into men, and they will become what they will spend the rest of their life doing.  One wants to be an orthodontist, the other an emergency room doctor.  In recent conversations my husband and I have suggested the great benefit of shadowing a master of each profession.  “Just spend a day,” we counseled, “so you will know what you are getting into.”

The advice led me to wonder what it might have been like to follow in the shadow of the Savior for just one day.

Perhaps we could choose the day described in Matthew chapter nine.

This day began as the Savior left a ship and entered into his own city.   He spent the morning teaching and healed a man sick of the palsy.  As He left that place He saw a man called Matthew and extended an invitation, “Follow me.”  In the next account Jesus took a moment to sit and eat.  It is not surprising that His disciples surrounded him during that meal, but it is surprising that publicans and sinners also joined Him.  This meal led to a conversation with the Pharisees who questioned His choice of friends.  While the Savior spoke to them, a ruler named Jairus came and asked the Lord if He would come heal his daughter who was near to death. On the way to the home of Jairus, the Savior walked down a crowded street.  Here, a woman who had been sick for twelve years came behind Him and touched His garment.  Stopping, the Savior carefully studied the crowd, taking the time to find the woman.  And when she came to Him, fearing, trembling, knowing, He blessed her saying, “thy faith hath made thee whole.”  Finally, Jesus arrived at the ruler’s home. He passed through a room of people who laughed him to scorn, entered the room of Jairus’ daughter, and raised her from the dead.  Leaving the home, He was met by two blind men, and asking them if they believed, he touched their eyes, and they were healed.  From there He was approached by others who brought unto Him a dumb man, and He cast out the devil.

The chapter ends with a verse that is a perfect definition of how the Savior’s days were filled, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.  But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.  Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is pleanteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”  (Matthew 9:35-38 emphasis added)

Sometimes, when my day seems crazy with unexpected moments that are not my own, I think of this chapter in Matthew.  I can’t find record of even one moment when the Savior had time to Himself.  Perhaps some of his appointments were fixed, but for the most part it seems that He allowed Himself to be available to whoever needed Him, whenever they needed Him.

He ate lunch with His friends, but also invited those who were in need of a friend to join with them.  He was kind to His enemies.  He left what He was doing to answer a desperate cry for help.  He took the time to focus on the One in the midst of the multitude.  He was not angered by those who mocked Him, but continued in the Spirit, healing and teaching.

He was moved with compassion.

I love this thought of being moved with compassion.  Is that what moves us through each day?  Compassion?

“Most ministering opportunities are spontaneous, not planned in advance. Much of the Savior’s ministering seemed almost incidental, happening while He was on His way to somewhere else—while He was doing something else.  He gave us the example of ministering as He went.”  (Bonnie Parkin, Personal Ministries)

Consider the magnitude of the events that occurred in that one day, there did not seem to be any moments of solidarity, or even moments of rest.  His focus was on ministering ––he was moved with compassion.

I have come to believe His service first was what allowed the hearts to open.  Perhaps it was the service that allowed the opportunity for the teaching.

My heart is pricked by the request of the Savior in the very last verse of this chapter, “The laborers are few…pray ye…that he will send forth laborers…(Matthew 9:38)

Could we learn to become the laborers He prayed for?

“We must remember that just as ministering doesn’t always need to be planned, it doesn’t need to be spectacular. It is something we can do every day in natural, simple ways.  We can offer a daily prayer that enlists the help of the Lord Jesus Christ as we ask: “Help me to be the answer to someone’s prayer today.” As we go about listening, watching, and feeling for the answer to those prayers—even in the midst of our busy schedules—I testify that our earthly ministry unfolds by revelation and divine empowerment. Our testimonies, faith, and feelings of connectedness to the Lord expand in amazing, unexpected ways.” (Bonnie Parkin, Personal Ministries)

Then we become His laborers, serving in His name, moved with compassion.

Perhaps you could be the answer to someone’s prayer.

Be willing to take a compassionate detour.

Emily Freeman