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BY EXAMPLE, JESUS TEACHES US TO LIVE BY LOVE AND COMPASSION

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

4 SEPTEMBER 1994

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Matthew 9:10-13
Mark 7:24-37

Throughout the history of Christianity there has been the misconception that somehow cruelty could be justified if it led to someone believing, or saying they believed.

During the crusades, they fought with the Moslems.

During the Spanish inquisitions, they tortured and killed.

Today many consider love and compassion a sign of weakness; they glorify the right wing's war-like attitude, and even elevate a confessed, but unrepentant, liar and deceiver to be a candidate for the U. S. Senate.

Today, we also make ministries of blood sports that take pleasure in the killing of animals.

These are things that Jesus never did, nor ever thought of.

Jesus taught us to live by love and compassion, and that by so living, others would come to truly believe.

Sometimes, in specific situations, Jesus might sound somewhat hard, but he never was hard.

If He sounded harsh, it was meant to lead someone to better express their faith, but He always reached out with love and compassion.

A case in point is that of a Syrophoenician woman who came to Jesus when He was at Tyre, as recorded in Mark 7:24-30.

24. And from there He arose and went away to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice.

Jesus wasn't trying to hide from the people of the region, or He wouldn't have come.

He was simply seeking some quiet time to rest.

If this were not so, He wouldn't have received those who came to Him.

25. But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, immediately came and fell at His feet.

26. Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.

Jesus came as the Messiah of the Jewish people; Jews simply didn't associate with non-Jews except in business-type relationships, and never in their homes.

And here a non-Jew comes to Him.

Note how He responds to her, and to the people who are gathered around Him, listening:

27. And He was saying to her, "Let the children [meaning the Jews] be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs [meaning the Gentiles]."

28. But she answered and said to Him, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children's crumbs."

In effect, she is very intelligently and faithfully saying, "I am not asking for the salvation you are bringing to the Jews; all I want is what is left over, just enough to heal my daughter."

That is more faith than many of the Israelites expressed.

She knew Jesus has the power, and she knew He is compassionate; thus, she persisted.

Jesus wanted this woman's faith to be a witness to those around Him.

29. And He said to her, "Because of this answer go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter."

30. And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having departed.

And after leaving there He healed another person, just because He was asked to do so.

He never questioned the person's faith, or those who brought him.

In His compassion, Jesus simply healed him, as we are told in verses 31-37.

31. And again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis.

32. And they brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they entreated Him to lay His hand upon him.

33. And He took him aside from the multitude by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva;

34. and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, "Ephphatha!" that is, "Be opened!"

35. And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly.

36. And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it.

37. And they were, utterly astonished, saying, "He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak."

The people were utterly astonished because they saw only the man doing the miracles, and not the power of God.

Some people, even to this very day, look with equal astonishment upon other people when they do all things well.

They question why someone would do that; they look not for the power of God, but for an ulterior motive.

Thatís what the Pharisees did when Jesus ate with sinners, as recorded in Matthew 9:10-13.

10. And it happened that as He was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax-gatherers and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.

11. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?"

12. But when He heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.

Jesus is equating sin with a sickness; not that it becomes an excuse for sinning, but that it deserves His healing power just as much as those He physically healed, and out of those whom He cast out demons.

Are we compassionate enough to do our best to heal a sinner, as well as those who are physically sick?

13. "But go and learn what this means, 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

He never asked these tax-gatherers or sinners to first confess their sins, Jesus just lovingly and compassionately invited them to dine with Him.

If we just let people come and meet Jesus and dine with Him, many will come to believe.

But unless Jesus dwells within us, they may not meet Him or dine with Him.

We are to be as Jesus!

Let us pray!

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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