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Summary: A fresh look at the meaning of compassion as displayed in the character of Jesus.

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THE CHARACTER OF COMPASSION

Matthew 9:35-38

Compassionate people . . .

I. Cross forbidden boundaries.

A. Compassion drives one outside the conventional boundaries. . . . Routine is the enemy of compassion. . . . Jesus broke the routine . . . stepped outside the normal . . . He wanted to see . . . to perceive life from their point of reference.

B. He went where he could find people. . . . "the cities and villages." He did not seek to isolate himself from the undesirable elements . . . did not run from the city . . . with all its pain, sin and chaos. . . . His interest was people . . . not personal comfort or individual piety . . . He came to save people.

C. He moved within the established structures. . . . "Teaching in their synagogues."

Jesus did not avoid the religious establishment . . . They were people too. . . . He was no revolutionary in the political sense. . . . Would Jesus be welcome in our churches today?

II. Proclaim the message of salvation.

A. He preached & taught the kingdom of God. . . . "Preaching and teaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God." His message was good news . . . the reign of God . . . peace, health, liberty, justice and righteousness . . . a world where your neighbor is your brother. . . . Good news indeed!

B. A truly compassionate ministry will always include preaching the message of salvation.

III. Heal the sick and console the hurting.

"Healing every sickness & every disease among the people."

C. He demonstrated the kingdom through good works. . . . Jesus was in the business of healing every sickness and every disease.

D. One might conclude that having experienced such tremendous success, Jesus would feel a sense of satisfaction and well-being. . . . However, Matthew begins verse 36 with the word "but." . . . introducing a contrast with what one would normally expect to hear. . . . This "but" reveals to us the fact that compassionate people . . .

IV. Feel the pain of others.

A. Jesus saw the multitudes. . . . Compassion begins with seeing . . . Most people go through life without really seeing . . . They filter all perceptions through the grid of their own experiences . . . never try to see the world through another’s eyes . . . never truly listen . . . never fully understand.

B. "He was moved with compassion for them." . . . Not just feeling sorry for someone . . . feeling with someone. . . We try to avoid the pain by placing all uncomfortable realities into neat little boxes or categories. . . (for example, hard work = prosperity). In S. America I had many of my boxes seriously challenged and eventually destroyed.

I discovered that my easy and simple categories did not always make sense. . . . Compassion means that we look on others not with the intention of passing judgment but simply to know and understand.

C. He saw them as "weary and scattered." . . . More than tired . . . One can end a day of hard work tired yet contented because we have ownership . . . weariness comes when people work for years and never see progress . . . treated as tools to be manipulated . . . having no recourse other than to be left without income. "Scattered" refers to the absence of a sense of community. . . . People working and living in isolation . . . struggling with life’s negative forces alone.

V. Yield themselves to the calling of God.

The most amazing about compassion is reflected in verse 36 . . . He saw them "like sheep having no shepherd." With these words, Jesus identifies the people’s greatest need . . . Not some government program to overcome weariness and scatterdness . . . not the pity of well-meaning handouts . . . not the judgment of the self-righteous . .

What they need most is leadership. . . Someone who, out of a sense of compassion, is willing to draw near . . . to show them another way.

It is easy to be the judge from a distance . . . but who is willing to draw near and be a shepherd?

A. The opportunity is limitless. . . . The world is full of weary and scattered people.

B. But the laborers are few. . . . As we look out at the bleak and dangerous landscape of a declining morality, increasing crime rate and growing occultism, perhaps, instead of looking to blame the government or the school system, we might do well to look at our mirrors. For we Christians are the ones that Jesus is calling to be His laboring shepherds in this weary and scattered world.

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