Jesus lived the best life ever lived. And in that marvelous life we see that He is full of compassion. In chapters 19-20 of Matthew there is a collage of “pictures” we see of His compassionate nature, only, we won’t recognize them as compassion unless we understand what He was doing in each of those situations. This short message reveals the true nature of compassion.
We’ve been studying through the Book of Matthew together to get a picture of the best life ever lived. Better than any hero you can think of, from modern or far past, Jesus outlived every one of them. This is God in the flesh, better than the best man or woman at any time.
Here’s my contention today. The best life ever lived was a life full of compassion. What is “compassion”? As you read these chapters you get the distinct impression that this is just a collection of stories, good ones, but not what you might see as a lesson in compassion.
You know what a collage is, right? It’s a collection of pictures that gives you a number of different views in one photo. That’s what this series of stories is meant to be. It’s a picture of compassion.
We’ll take three of the pictures and examine them.
Picture number one: the confrontation of the Pharisees over the issue of divorce.
Matthew 19:1-9 “Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these sayings, that He departed from Galilee and came to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them there. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.””
Do you think that Jesus was being compassionate here? He was saying this: except for the irreparable breach of serial adultery, divorce for just any reason (which was the standard of those times just like ours) is harmful and against the design of marriage. Isn’t He just making people feel badly about a difficult situation?
Let me ask you this. How many of you have heard of a happy divorce that never affected either partner negatively, or their children? How many of you have heard of people currently married that were at the brink of divorce but found a way to reconcile and are now happily married?
Lesson one is this: Compassion means telling the truth, even if it’s not popular.
Picture number two: the rich young man.
Matthew 19:16-22 “Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
Lesson two: Compassion gives a window into where a person stands with the Lord, close or far away.
You’re not helping anyone if you fudge here; especially your children. Just because your child asked Jesus into their heart when they were in Sonbeams doesn’t mean that they’re “all set” now. Help the ones closest to you to know the Lord when it seems obvious that their life tells another story.
Picture number three: the blind beggars.
Matthew 20:29-34 “Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.”
These men were beggars, hopeless beggars. Somehow, either from birth or later in life, they had become blind. They immediately lost any way of earning a livelihood, other than by the pity of others. Yet Jesus heard their cries. “Son of David, have mercy on us!” He called them over, having stopped the processional. Then He asked them the question of questions: What do you want Me to do for you? Carte blanche from the One who owns all things. Really? To two beggars? Then he heals them at their request.
Lesson three: Compassion doesn’t care whom you serve, but cares to do some genuine good for the one served.
We think we know what is best for others. So we do what we think needs to be done. But the real answer is found in the person. Oh, sometimes they don’t know what they really need. But the answer is still found in getting to know them, listening, seeing the real need as they reveal it, and ministering to it.
The best life ever lived was, and is, full of compassion. What can you do, what steps can you take to make genuine compassion a very real emphasis of your life.
If you need some inner healing, out of compassion, our team will share truth, reveal where you are with the Lord, and ferret out your genuine needs.
John 6:1-3 “After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased. And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat with His disciples.”
John 6:5 “Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?””
John 6:15 “Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.”
John 6:21 “Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.”
John 5:30 “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.
Judgment = decision (making)
Righteous = innocent, holy, just, appropriate, right(eous); “whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God”; “approved of or accepted to God”
How do you do the right thing?