Get the message
Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56
The disciples had just returned from a missionary expedition. (&) We could assume they would be excited to tell Jesus of their successes and maybe even question him regarding their unsuccessful moments. Did we say the wrong thing? Should we have stayed longer? And so forth. We can almost hear Jesus saying, or at least thinking: “well done my good and faithful servants”, and with compassion, realising of their aching and hungry bodies, –saying first come with me and rest.
The meaning of the word disciple is messenger, and these messengers must have had much success in sharing the good news as it has spread quickly and Jesus is besieged with people.
Following verse 34 is the feeding of the 5,000 men. Men, add the rest of the family and what are we talking? 10,000, 15,000? Quite a crowd. It may not seem like a Foo Fighters concert at the SCG until we take in the logistics of the situation. The neighbouring towns of Capernaum and Bethsaida-goods sized towns in their day had populations of 2,000 to 3,000 each. So in today’s times, here in Dubbo, with no public transport or cars, say 220,000 people on foot converging on the shores of the river with no PA systems and no crowd control. In relative terms this is a huge crowd of people, all searching and looking for answers, and “Jesus had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd”, and heals people and teaches them: gives them his good news, the Gospel.
Compassion: The dictionary states it as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering”.
Jesus in compassion, teaches, heals and in the accompanying verses feeds them.
I asked a colleague of mine why he became a Pastor and he replied that he would do various acts of kindness supplying food to the needy and giving away money, but it always seemed he was like the boy that put his finger in the dyke, and during this he came to see that the long term answer to their pain was to hear of Christ.
Jesus in his compassion healed those who come to him because he felt their pain. How blessed were those who he touched and healed, yet this was not Jesus’ main reason for being. His healings were more like the boy with his finger in the dyke-see a problem, fix a problem. We know from Jesus’ recorded miracles that almost always he told the recipients not to tell anyone. Why? Because of his nature how could he say no to those coming to him, he couldn’t, so he healed people as they turned up. But his reason for being-the reason he walked our earth was to die for our sins-to bring the long term never ending miracle of spiritual healing. He came, to lead the lost home, to be their shepherd-on his way to the cross he healed people’s short term woes, but much more important he taught them-that they would know in him the love of the father-because he felt their pain, their need for the truth, their need for a shepherd and their need for a leader.
Leadership is so crucial, in all aspects of life.
We’ve all heard the term “it all stems from the top”. (and) generally it does. The leader sets an example, keeps it together when everyone else is confused, fearful and so forth. Yet ironically, the best and most effective leaders, while yes, “in them it does all stem from the top” do not talk down to those below them, they talk with them, are concerned for them, serve them-and that’s what alternatively leads into their leadership from the top.
I found this insightful quote on compassion: “Compassion is not a snob gone slumming. Anybody can salve their conscience by an occasional foray into knitting for the poor. Did you ever take a real trip down inside the broken heart of a friend? To feel the sob of the soul-the raw, red crucible of emotional agony? To have this become almost as much yours as that yours as that of your soul-crushed neighbour? Then, to sit down with them-and silently weep? This is the beginning of compassion.” (Jess Moody).
Our shepherd, our leader-Jesus, from him it all stems- from the top. But he did he sit in a ivory tower- he came down to our level. The bottom rung, the lost, to lead us home. To take our just deserved pain and sin on himself.
It always amazes me that when there’s a tragedy, quite often God gets the blame, or at the least said that he doesn’t seem to care. For a moment, even with our feeble human wisdom let’s think about this. We do know and understand what love is. Think of someone that no matter what they did, you love them so much-that when they are hurting, all you want to do is take away their pain. That even though they may error in their ways towards you, there is nothing that you would not forgive them for. That’s love.
Then we read in the bible that our love, the best of our love is small, miniscule to that of God’s. That God in His perfect love gave us His son, to be hungry, to feel physical pain, to be beaten, tortured and ultimately die a tragic death. We would forgive that loved one of ours of anything-unconditionally. Yet the powers of darkness sometimes succeed in making us wonder of our forgiveness before God. We feel the pain of that loved one of ours, yet the powers of darkness sometimes succeed in making us doubt that our Lord cares about us.
Can you see how ridiculous and utterly wrong that is? Our love to others doesn’t rate a mention to that of God’s or our Saviour Jesus. Yet even we know the hurt from seeing our loved ones suffer. Imagine the hurt that Christ feels in his perfect love when he sees us in pain, sees people hungry, dying and lost. If we just thinking rationally of this we can understand it when we are told that the whole of “heaven cheers in joyfulness when one sinner turns to Christ” and is saved.
Compassion. Why doesn’t God just cure all our ailments now, bring world peace and bring food to the starving? He has the power to do so, but God is not a puppet master. He lets us have a brain, free choice-he didn’t make robots that are just yes sir, no sir-he has given us the right to decide, to think for ourselves-even when that leads to doing things that are totally opposite to what’s good for us, or him. That’s love.
In the garden when we fell to sin, the earth became fractured and so did our perfect relationship with God the father. In our 50, 60, 100 years on this planet, due to sin we have times of suffering-God has had to live with our suffering for thousands of years. Every soldier on the battlefield, every one cold on the streets, and every person not full of hope who has believed the lies said against our Saviour: God, perfect in love has endured.
God perfect in love, calls people to be volunteers, nurses, doctors, all of us in our occupations to heal the sick, alleviate some of the pain, and to bring some joy and laughter to our human world. God perfect in love, saw his Son endure pain, the pain we brought to him.
We cannot imagine how hard that must have been for God-yet the world, we, are tempted to doubt what he says. Our Lord, who on the cross-in agonising pain says of those that put him there: “forgive them father they don’t know what they do”.
Our Lord who his way to the cross, when people came to him for physical cure, healed them because of his perfect love.
In our lives he brings health or at least some relief from the pain through those he calls in their vocations in life. In His perfect love he is not a puppet master. In His prefect love God lets us make our own mistakes. In His prefect love he gives us shelter, food and assistance in the hurt-through his children like us.
In His perfect love, he puts up with our doubts towards him, our anger toward him, the hurt we do to others and ourselves and asks no more than that we accept His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ-that in him we receive complete and utter forgiveness, life today and eternal-that we accept our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ so that amongst the pain we can feel his love to sustains us in faith, that we may follow His son Jesus back to him.
Compassion: On our way home, The Father, The Son and The Holy spirit will continue to endure in our pain, endure with our mistakes, vices, and anger towards Him. Continue to provide for us and all people-that we may know the truth-that in Christ-nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Even in our small portions of human wisdom and love-how could we think anything different? How could anyone think different?
Jesus said “Forgive them Father for they do not know what they do”
They don’t know: so he teaches.
Let’s pray we always hear and know that truth, let’s pray that those that still “don’t know what they do” hear and know the truth. Pray that we won’t be deceived by half-truths and lies, but hear and know the full truth, that in Christ, no matter what we are, where we’ve been or what we’ve done, that when in Christ, all are home: totally, absolutely and unconditionally forgiven. Amen.