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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.


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