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The Compassion of Jesus September 14, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Scripture Meditation.
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Hey Joe,

Sorry bro, I know I have been dropping the ball here at Blog Nation.  Where have I been?  I suppose I could best explain with Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 11:28, “28Apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”  Except for me it has not been all the churches, but the one in particular that God has called me to serve in.   Ministry is great, but the more I am involved in it the more I can relate to this verse.

Anyway, the other day I read these words in Mark 6,

 “34When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.”

I found this to be an amazing sentence (actually it’s two sentences in English, but only one in Greek).  The compassion of Jesus is a precious thing, something that all Christians treasure.  And yet what struck me in this verse is what the compassion of Jesus prompted Him to do.  He had compassion on the people, and the result of His compassion was that He taught the people many things.

Jesus did many things to demonstrate His compassion.  Just after this, He fed 5,000.  He healed the sick and cleansed lepers and raised the dead and dined with sinners, and on and on I could go.  But let us not miss this.  Moved with compassion, Jesus taught the people many things.

Many people today seem to believe that an over-emphasis on teaching is unloving and unhelpful.  It is impractical and promotes cold intellectualism and unnecessary divisions.  But oh how desperately we need to learn our philosophy of ministry from Jesus, not from our experience!  Jesus’ compassion moved Him not to ignore teaching, but to practice it.  Because He loved the people so much, He was moved to instruct them in the ways of the Kingdom.

This point was pressed home even more for me last week when I prepared my message on the life of Joni Eareckson-Tada.  In her autobiography, she talks about the repeating cycle of hope followed by setback followed by suicidal despair that she couldn’t seem to break.  Then she describes what finally broke the cycle.  It was being introduced to a young man named Steve Estes.  Joni writes,

He sensed that I…had not really mastered some of the basic Christian doctrines – the character of God, the deity of Christ, sin, repentance, and salvation – and that became the focus of our weekly studies…As Steve shared basic Bible doctrine with us, I began to see the shallowness of my own faith and spirituality.  My spiritual ups and downs could be charted as easily and accurately as my physical progress…With each succeeding week, spiritual truth became more real, and I began to see life from God’s perspective…

While there are many people today who say we should worry less about Bible doctrine and focus just on loving people, it is clear that as Jesus loved people by teaching them, so Steve Estes loved Joni specifically by teaching her Bible doctrine.  And as Joni began to learn more about life from God’s perspective, she began to see some of the reasons why God had brought about her paralysis.  As she began to learn more about God’s sovereignty, Joni began to see that her accident was not a tragedy, but a tool. 

The practical fruit that has been borne in Joni’s life has been the result of a man who loved her enough to teach her.  He was a man who followed in the steps of Jesus, who loved people by teaching them, not by minimizing the importance of sound teaching.

May we who bear Christ’s name have the same burden to teach and serve others in a way that would make manifest the beautiful compassion of our Lord and Savior.

Larry

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Comments»

1. Ralph - September 14, 2007

Larry,

Thanks for posting this. I can relate to Joni’s comments. Over the past few months, God has been drawing me closer to Him as I seek Him out in His word and through sound Biblical teaching. How can we truly know God and follow Him without making an effort to learn about Him through scripture?

Ralph

2. Joe - September 14, 2007

Lar,

It’s good to have you back brother, b/c that was a great post–one worth waiting for!

Joe

3. larrylaz - September 14, 2007

Glad you both were encouraged by this. It’s been on my front-burner lately. I know that some people in our church are grateful for my gift as a teacher of God’s Word, but I wonder how many really see the time and preparation I put in as a demonstration of compassion.

Generally I think it’s the people who cut the grass and clean the bathrooms and bring food to the poor who are regarded as the compassionate ones. While these are precious and essential manifestations of compassion, I hope that more and more people in the Church will regard those who labor at preaching and teaching as demonstrating the compassion of Jesus.

Larry


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