the one where Jesus models compassion...
July 20, 2015, 1:49 PM

Sermon from July 12, 2015

Text: Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

If you remember a few weeks ago, we read that Jesus has sent his disciples out to be with those in need in the community of Israel. They were to be dependent on the hospitality of those that they met on the way. They were instructed to not take anything with them except the clothes on their backs and the sandals on their feet. They were called to have trust in those around them as they proclaimed the kingdom of God and of repentance.

Well, the apostles are back! They are excited! They are anxious to tell Jesus all that they had seen and done and had been able to teach. Of course, there are others who are pretty excited as well. When you have people doing great things around the area there are others who take notice and want to experience that excitement and possibly get in on that healing action too.

The disciples return and Jesus shows compassion with them – telling them that they need to care for themselves. To take a time-out so that they might be rested to continue on the long journey of ministry that Jesus will lay before them and lead them through.

So, they set off to a deserted place that turns out isn’t so deserted anymore. Obviously, the boat that the disciples seem to always travel in is incredibly slow. The people around Jesus and his band of brothers are always figuring out where they are going and meeting them there. I’ve always thought that was kind of funny.

Needless to say, the deserted place is quite full of people and Jesus again has compassion. This time for the multitudes who gather in anticipation for Jesus and his disciples.

Compassion is an incredibly important emotion and virtue. And I think Jesus gives us an integral aspect of his life to model. Showing compassion to those in need.

Of course, the risk we run as followers of Christ is confusing compassion with pity – whether we are practicing compassion or receiving it.

You see, pity and compassion are similar in ways to their end goals – helping individuals in need. But, the starting point and means to which we get to that help is far different.

When you have pity for someone one – you’re starting at a point of – those poor things – they just don’t know any better. I’ve gotta help them out. I’ve gotta show them a better way.

We’re still helping – which is good, but the means and starting point in which we help isn’t very flattering or fair. In showing pity – we are starting on a point of superiority with another. No one wants to receive pity. Pity is just throwing money at someone or a helping hand because you have to do it. You’re following through with the social obligation of being nice. And we have to be careful in this, because people don’t want to receive pity – they don’t want to be considered ‘pitiful.’ No one wants that, and at times it just makes situations even worse.

That’s not what Jesus practices and models for his disciples and for us in our gospel text this morning. Jesus isn’t looking at the gathered crowds around him and thinking, ‘these poor people don’t have any food. They’re sick too. They just don’t know any better. Well – I guess I should help them. It is the right thing to do after all…’

But, instead we are told that he has compassion for them.

You see, compassion starts out in love – in fellowship – in relationship with another person. We have compassion for those in need because we desire that they be fed and filled and healed. Not because we are sorry for the lot that they have received in life, but because we have love for them. Where we desire to be in relationship with that individual, being with them in their life. Not just checking off the box for social obligation or clicking the ‘like’ button on our Facebook feed. But, being active in that compassion.

And what does that look like? It looks like not only giving food to the local food bank – but perhaps volunteering to feed those in need, and then maybe even advocating and participating in those areas that make it easier for all to be fed and to be fed well. Why? Because out of our love of neighbor that our Lord calls us to we cannot stand idly by and watch as people go hungry in our community, schools, and our world.

Maybe it isn’t just saying, ‘Man kids need tutors and role models don’t they!’ It isn’t just clicking the little thumbs-up button on your friend’s latest post about the good work some person is doing with those with less advantages than us. Maybe perhaps it looks like actually being a tutor, forming relationships with kids so that they might know they are loved and cared for. And we do this because Christ calls us to be in relationship with others.

Maybe it isn’t sitting here in the pews with our arms crossed with thoughts in our heads of, “Man, why don’t people come here more often – like they used to?” Do I believe people should be in worship? Yeah, I do, but not because of some social obligation to do it. But, because they are invited to participate in the life of Christ and that we share in one another’s life as sisters and brothers in Christ. Where we can live into the message that All are welcome – no exceptions. Because all are welcomed here in this place and at this table.

Jesus shows compassion on all and invites us to love those around us. Because of the love and abundance that we have received from Christ compels us to share that love and abundance with others. Inviting them into this relationship. Learning from all so that we can be that much more full. So that we might understand the hardships of others.

Where we can be in relationship with all.

Compassion – it is pretty powerful and it begins in love and it involves ‘doing.’ Not because we have to, but because we get to. In our compassion for those around us we get to be with others and we get to invite them into the life of Christ. In our compassion we get to be invited into the life of others so that we might know and understand. In that love, we can help all those in need advocating for ways and means to help alleviate suffering in all we meet and especially for those that we do not know. We get to share this life of abundance and love that has been gifted to the world in Jesus our Lord.

Jesus calls us to follow in his compassion for others, for those in need. This compassion starts in our love for our fellow sisters and brothers in Christ. Our love for those around us because they too are wonderfully and beautifully created by our God of grace and love. Amen.



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