"Know the Generosity of God…and never thirst" (John 4)
Know the Generosity of God…and never thirst! (John 4)

Gut-Wrenching Compassion

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

30The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

 53When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

Plans and interruptions…Sometimes we can have the best plans laid out plans for our day and for our lives…but inevitably we have interruptions where others may need our time.  And for me, it is always when I am the busiest.  I am interrupted when I don’t have the time – or at least feel like I don’t have the time to deal with other people’s issues.  

For example, I was walking out of Proctor and Gamble after work in Cincinnati, OH.  I’m on my way to the car and there sits a lady on the stoop of some stairs with nothing on her feet but slippers.  It’s about 20 degrees outside and there is snow on the ground.  And she stops me to ask for help.  Ugggg….but I am in a hurry because I am to meet Bob to sign some papers for a loan.

Another time, I had dropped off my children to preschool and it is pouring down raid outside and I see a young woman in the parking lot trying to change her tire.  Ugggg….But I had a meeting to get to…

One evening at about 9pm and pitch-black dark, Bob and I are driving home.  On the side of the road, we see a man and a little girl (about the age of four) walking down the side of the road.  Ugggg…but we need to get home to our children.  

My daughter and I are pulling into our neighborhood one afternoon.  We need to get home quickly but can’t get passed the garbage truck.  As we sit there waiting impatiently, I watch the man as he goes to get the cans and bring them to truck.  There is a sadness about him.  But I just need him to hurry up…

Even our best laid plans for our days and for our lives will inevitably be interrupted by something or someone.  

And, it seems that it was no different for Jesus and his disciples.  

They are exhausted, hungry, and just want to get away and have some time to themselves. They were hoping to be able to get something to eat.  At least that’s the plan, but they continue to be interrupted by the crowds of people – 

People are everywhere – coming and going.  In fact, they are not just following Jesus…but also anticipating where He will go next and arriving ahead of him – Some are pushing through the crowds just to reach Jesus and possibly get close enough to just touch his clothes so that they may be healed of their diseases. 

These people were desperate.  Most likely they had already used every resource available to them to try and get well. 

There was high anxiety, fear was evident, and a there was loss of control among the crowds – a feeling of desperation…but yet in the presence of Jesus, there was a sense of hope…  

Hope of being made whole again.  

Are we those people in this story today?

I met a Veteran the other day who was lying in the bed – paralyzed from the neck down- He has been that way for 20 years.  

He told me the story about how one Christmas eve he was driving home to his mom’s house.  On the way, he fell asleep at the wheel and his car hit a telephone pole.  Just like that…his life has changed forever.

He told me that he loves Jesus Christ and that he was looking forward to the day when he is made whole again and can get up out of that bed and walk again.

Imagine…just going home for Christmas…Even our best laid plans do not always turn out the way we want or that we hope for…

Jesus and his disciples are in a boat to go to a deserted place to rest and pray and perhaps have something to eat.  But their plans are interrupted when they get to the shore, the crowds had already gone on foot and were waiting for them…

Notice Jesus doesn’t turn the boat around to try and go somewhere else.

He doesn’t try to reinforce boundaries or complain about never having time to himself.

He doesn’t get angry or resentful.

He doesn’t even ignore or deny the interruption.  

He looks at the crowd and he had compassion for them because they are like sheep without a shepherd.

Did you know the word, Compassion, literally means “To suffer with those whom you are referring to.”  

In fact, what we don’t see today is that Jesus’ compassion for the people led him to feed over 5000 people – 

He’s tired.  He needs rest.  And he is hungry.  But through his compassion for the people – his ability to know what they need and feel and to suffer with them, led him to teach, touch, heal, and feed thousands of hungry folks.

Where are you and I in this story?  

What are the plans and expectations for your life?

What are some interruptions or unexpected happenings in your life that you may be dealing with?  

  • Is it a day that you had nothing on your calendar but turns into one thing after another?
  • Is it taking a new job thinking it’s one thing, but turns into something you were not expecting?
  • Is it a diagnosis that interrupts retirement plans?
  • Perhaps it is a shattered dream, a divorce, or the death of a loved one.

Our plans get interrupted in a thousand different ways…

I wonder if it is those interruptions in our days and our lives is where we meet God.  Could it be that those interruptions, the least expected to happen – is where God shows up.

The lady who was sitting on the stoop of the stairs with slippers on her feet and about 20 degrees – I put her in my car, got her some money, and took her to the bus stop.

The young woman who was trying to change her tire in the pouring down rain – I got out of my car and together we changed the tire.

The night that we see the man and a four-year-old little girl walking down the highway, we stopped to take them home.  His car had broken down.

The garbage truck that afternoon when I watched the man take the cans to the truck…I had my daughter reach into my purse and give him the only money I had.  

I know you have similar stories of when you too had been interrupted and God showed up and your compassion for others led you to do the unexpected…

Compassion – our willingness to be in suffering with others…is where we are at the core of our faith…We are at the center of our faith…

Because here is the thing…We are only able to have compassion for others because we are recipients of Jesus Christ’s compassion for us!  

Jesus sees us – humanity – floundering around in this world and has compassion for us because we are like sheep without a shepherd.  

And through his compassion for us – his suffering with us – He knows our pain and our hearts – His compassion for us – for you and me – because we are like sheep without a shepherd – led him to Jerusalem…to the cross.  

Where we are recipients of his compassion.  We are the recipients of his love.  

Where that man lying in his bed now has the hope of walking again.

Those who are blind will be able to see again.

Those who are hungry will be fed.

Those who are homeless will have a warm place to sleep.

Those who are hurting will no longer hurt.

No more tears, no more mourning, and no more pain.

Compassion.  Jesus Christ has compassion for us – He suffers with us…And, in his compassion for us, we are led to still waters, and he restores our souls…



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