Posts Tagged ‘compassion

08
Aug
08

Come here, get away (mark 10)

The above title is what popped into my head as I focused on verses 13-22 of Mark 10.  Here we find two encounters with Jesus.  In the first, the disciples are keeping the children from Jesus.  He becomes indignant and instructs them to let the children come to him.  In the second, a rich young man comes to Jesus for spiritual direction.  Jesus tests his obedience to the 10 commandments and then advises him to sell all he has and follow him.  The children come and are blessed by Jesus; the young man goes away disheartened by Jesus.

At first glance one might see a discontinuity in Jesus’ respones, compassion towards the children but harshness towards the young man.  Yet verse 21 states that Jesus loved the young man and it was out of that heart commitment Jesus advised the selling of the possessions.  Jesus had just finished teaching that one can only enter the Kingdom of God as a little child (v. 15).  Little children enter full of trust in God.  They have not accumulated the baggage of possessions, power, prestige.  They rely on nothing else but God.  That is what the young man needed to learn, and difficult as that lesson is for those that have wealthy, all is possible for God (see v. 27).

Jesus does not tell us what we might like to hear, he tells us what we need to know.  His mission was not to be ‘managed’ by followers or flattered by seekers, it was “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (v. 45).

24
Jul
08

Any room in your boat? (Mark 6)

The home crowd could not see beyond what they had known. They had known Jesus to be a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother to James, Joses, Judas and Simon (see Mark 6 v. 3); they were not willing to believe that he was more than that. Things were different outside of Nazareth. Some thought Jesus was Elijah, while others thought he was a prophet. Because of his miraculous works, there were those, including King Herod, that believed Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead. Indeed Jesus was doing amazing things. Sick people were lining his route, believing that if they could but touch the edge of his garments they would be healed (see v. 56).

But there is another side to Jesus that is expressed in the narratives of Mark 6 and that is Jesus, the one who cares. Tired as he was, when he arrived on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, he had compassion on the masses that flocked to him (see v. 34). Although the disciples suggested sending the people away, hungry as they were after listening to Jesus teach late into the day, Jesus would have none of it. The crowd was fed until they were satisfied and then dismissed by Jesus. Jesus not only cared for the crowds but for his companions. He had dispatched them by boat to the other side of the Sea. After praying, he began to walk out to them. The wind was against the disciples and they were struggling to make any headway. As Jesus approached, they thought he was a ghost. With the same compassion that led him to reach out to the crowd who were like sheep without a shepherd, Jesus reached out to these fearful ones, who were like sailors without a captain. He said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid” (v. 50). Jesus got into the boat with them and the adverse wind that had buffeted their advance was silenced. Again they were amazed.

What the moment calls for Jesus has, better yet, what my moments call for Jesus has. Will I be like the home crowd and restrict Jesus to what I have known about him? Or will I respond to his compassion and care and permit him into my boat?

21
Jul
08

Getting a legion of help in understanding Jesus – Mark 5

“The Great One”, “The Flower”, “The Big M”, and the list goes on of nicknames given to star athletes. Our lists will differ, given our sport of choice and our era of focus, yet what remains the same is that each moniker serves as a sort of verbal shorthand denoting the the skills, size and achievements of the one so named.

As I read Mark 5, I noted that the city crowds marvelled at what Jesus had done for the demonized man (see v. 20). His affliction had been untreatable and even uncontainable. People had tried, but their best efforts and their strongest chains could not subdue the demonic legion that occupied the man. Yet when Jesus showed up, while he was still a ways off, the demons knew the game was up. The encounter was short lived; the gaggle of unclean spirits were dispatched by Jesus into a herd of unclean animals and the man was restored by Jesus to his right mind. Indeed a marvelous thing.

At the end of the chapter the setting is different, not city crowds but a small group comprised of a mother and father and a few close followers of Jesus. What they beheld in the company of Jesus left them overcome with amazement (see v. 42). The 12 year old daughter of the mother and father, who had been sick and then pronounced dead, had been restored to life and to health by Jesus. This was no circus act, no grandstanding by Jesus, just a miracle arising from his compassion. Indeed an amazing thing.

What handle fits such a one as Jesus? “Marvelous One”? “Amazing One”? “Miracle Worker”? Each nickname speaks some of the truth about Jesus…but not the whole truth. So who is Jesus? Oddly we are helped in our quest by the submissive query of demonized man, who asks, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?” (v. 7) Jesus is marvelous and amazing and does the miraculous because he is the Divine Son.

“So what?”, we ask. Here is my answer. When I find myself in circumstances that are beyond my best efforts to fix or contain, Jesus can deliver me from that darkness. When events unfold that are sorrowful and perplexing and common wisdom would say, “It’s all over, give up”, Jesus can enter that situation and bring hope and new life. I don’t follow one that shrinks back from evil and darkness nor from sickness or death, but rather I follow one who can enable me to overcome for the glory of God.

For other posts in this series click here.

09
Jul
08

Coming to grips with the whole of the Holy One – mark 1:21-45

Power, compassion and priority are words that come to my mind as I re-read Mk 1:21-45.

Jesus is not like the teachers the crowds are use to, he teaches with authority. He walks into a synagogue and straight-off a demonized man is powerfully impacted; the demon within knows their game is up. Jesus isn’t some traveling rabbi, he is the “Holy One of God” (see some xref ).

The power Jesus has as God’s Holy One, does not isolate him from people and their needs. He enters Peter’s house, whose mother-in-law is ill, and he heals her…in fact he spends the whole night healing the sick and delivering the demonized. Near the end of the chapter again we see this compassion expressed as Jesus touched the untouchable leper and healed him.

Healing people and delivering the opressed is a key part of Jesus’ ministry, but it wasn’t the reason he came. He came to proclaim the gospel of God saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). It seems to me that he didn’t want either the demons or those healed to broadcast his miraculous works as if they were the headline story. No he wanted his message to be heard, even if that meant keeping his identity and power under wraps.

What I was struck with is that there is no picking and choosing with Jesus. For example, you can’t say, “Oh I like that he can heal, but I will pass on his repentance message.” I have to be open to the whole influence of the Holy One.

Let’s start that dialogue…what did you see in the passage regarding Jesus?

For other posts in this series click here.

02
Feb
08

4 challenges from an ancient foster dad

I spent some time this past week reading about Mordecai. He shows up in the Book of Esther; she is a young Jewish beauty living in exile, he is both her cousin and her guardian. Mordecai intrigues me. Just wait a minute. Let me shoot straighter than that, the guy challenges me. Let me mention a few things.

First, his heart is soft. He takes in his orphaned cousin and cares for her like one of his own (Esther 2:7). When Esther is chosen for the king’s harem, Mordecai checks every day to see how she is doing (Esther 2:11).

Second, his convictions were not negotiable. When the king ordered that homage be expressed to prince Haman, Mordecai chose not join the other servants in bowing down to the prince (Esther 4:1-5). His commitment to God would not permit him to so honour another.

Third, his faith in God was unshakeable. Because of Mordecai’s failure to pay homage, Haman was plotting not only his destruction, but the annihilation of the Jewish people. Mordecai urged Esther to exploit her royal position to intercede for her people, but if she proved unwilling, Mordecai was confident that God would deliver the Jewish nation some other way (Esther 4:14).

Fourth, he exercised power with compassion. Mordecai was eventually advanced to second in rank in the land. Although his power was great it did not corrupt him; he remained committed to the welfare of his people (Esther 10:3).

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