Summary: A sermon for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost Compassion of Jesus
4 Sunday after Pentecost
"Compassion = ?"
There are two verses in our texts for today that I would like to call to your attention. The first is in our lesson from Romans which says: "But God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." and the other verse is found in our gospel lesson saying:" When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, "He had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."
These two verses, I feel, sum up for us the meaning of the gospel message, the Good News of Jesus Christ. God shows His love for us while we were still sinners, or enemies of God and Jesus had compassion for the people. But what does that mean?? God loves us and Jesus had compassion? These two words oft times have a vague and mysterious meaning. What does it mean to love?? What does it mean to have compassion??
In Roget’s Thesaurus, which is a book of synonyms and antonyms, he lists many words which describe or expand on the meaning of love and compassion. These words are, sympathy, charity, mercy, generosity, pity, and we could go on and on. And each of these words can be described with many others. The list is endless. But that still doesn’t get us to the meaning, to the heart of the matter, what does it mean that God loves us, what does it mean that Jesus had compassion? Maybe scripture might help, how about John 3:16, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that who so ever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
"Yes, that verse speaks about God’s love for us, but does it describe it? Can we see love in that verse? Yes and no. Yes we can see love because God’s love is visible only through Christ. No, we cannot see love, because we do not see the actions of Christ. The only true way to see God’s love, to describe God’s love is to see Christ. Christ is God’s love incarnate, or God’s love made real in this world. So, as we look through the New Testament, as we look for descriptions of what does it mean that God loves us, we need to look at the actions of Christ.
When Christ had compassion on the crowds, He was in a sense, in all reality, showing the people, showing us what it means that God loves us. As He healed, as He forgave sins, as He brought people together, as He made especially women feel part of God’s created order, He showed us and them God’s love.
Jesus is the one who shows us very dramatically what God’s love is like. It is a forgiving, accepting, caring, merciful, compassionate love. It is a love which allowed God’s only son to be killed on a cross so that you and I might have eternal life. It is a love which was willing to sacrifice God’s son so that reconciliation might happen on this earth. "While we were yet sinner, Christ died for us." While we were yet sinners, Christ reconciled God the Father with the creation.
So, if one is to describe God’s love it can be described in the action, words and deeds of Christ. It can be called a reconciling love, a love which brings people together. It is a love which forgives, it is a love which is willing to sacrifice, it is a love which is willing to give instead of take.
That love of God is seen through Christ and the cross, but at the same time, the love of Christ is seen today not only through the actions, words and deeds of Christ in the Bible, but through the actions of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of people today. Paul says very clearly, that you and I are little "little Christs" out in the world. People see Christ today through us, through you and me. Paul says in Romans 12:9,"Let love be genuine, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good, love one another with brotherly affection, outdo one another in showing honor."
Paul says further in Ephesians 5: "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Paul says further,"for once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, walk as children of light,"
As you can tell, you and I are to be little Christ’s in this world. We are to be Christ like, loving one another as Christ has loved us. We are to be free with our love, expressive with our love, we are to be generous with our love toward our neighbor.