Summary: Jesus had a compassionate heart, and so should we.
A. How many of you like Winnie the Pooh stories?
1. In one poignant story, we see Pooh Bear walking along a river bank.
2. Eeyore, his stuffed donkey friend, suddenly appears floating downstream, on his back of all things, and is obviously troubled about the possibility of drowning.
3. Pooh calmly asks if Eeyore had fallin’ in.
4. Trying to appear in complete control, the anguished donkey answers, “Silly of me, wasn’t it?”
5. Pooh overlooks his friend’s pleading eyes and remarks that Eeyore really should have been more careful.
6. In greater need than ever, Eeyore politely thanks him for the advice (even though he needs action more than he needs advice).
7. Almost with a yawn, Pool Bear points out, “I think you are sinking.”
8. With that as his only hint of hope, drowning Eeyore asks Pooh if he would mind rescuing him.
9. So, Pooh pulls him from the river.
10. Eeyore then apologizes for being such a bother, in his depressed tone, and Pooh, still unconcerned, yet ever so courteous, responds, “Don’t be silly…you should have said something sooner.”
B. Do you see yourself at all in that story?
1. Do you often react like Pooh when someone is in need?
2. Do you point out the obvious? “Looks like you are sinking…you should have been more careful!”
3. Do you make others beg for help?
C. Maybe your attitude is often reflected in this picture.
1. “You’ve got problems? So does everyone else. Here’s your straw – suck it up!”
2. Does that sound like Jesus to you? Certainly not!
D. One thing comes through loud and clear from Scripture and that is that Jesus had a compassionate heart.
1. Matthew 9:36: When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
2. Matthew 14:14: When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
3. Matthew 15:32: Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”
4. Matthew 20:34: Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
5. Mark 6:32: When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
E. When Jesus was trying to help us understand what God the Father was really like, He told the story that we call the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
1. It might better be titled the Parable of the Lovingly, Gracious Father.
2. The climax of the story comes when the prodigal son had reached the very bottom and decided to return to his father and beg to become one of the servants.
3. He expected his father to be rather calloused and cold-hearted toward him when he returned, and so he had practiced his humble presentation.
4. But his father wouldn’t even give him the chance to deliver all his lines.
5. Jesus said: So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:20-24)
6. Jesus wants us to know that our Father in heaven has a compassionate heart, and that’s why Jesus, His Son, also has a compassionate heart.
7. And that’s why we, His followers, must have a compassionate heart.
F. The New Testament has numerous commands that point to the necessity of cultivating a heart of compassion.
1. Look again at our Scripture reading from Colossians 3:12: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
a. Don’t you wish that having a heart of compassion was as simple as putting it on, like putting on your coat?
b. Yet the idea of being clothed with compassion is a beautiful image.
c. Everyone can see the things we are clothed in…like what I am wearing today.