S‑1087 12/17/2008 3MIA/3B Hymns: (O)#58 vv. 1-4; (S) #384 (C) # 66
Texts: Isaiah 49:13-18; Hebrews 4:14-16; Matthew 9:27-38
Theme: “Compassion of God” (Matthew 9:36)
Armour, SD. SOLI DEO GLORIA.
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Gospel lesson: “When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt. 9:36).
Saints in Christ, tonight we conclude our Midweek Advent Sermon Series “Come and See!” By the Spirit’s power we have looked at the Comfort of God, and the Counsel of God. Tonight, we shall consider the “Compassion of God.”
According to the dictionary “Compassion” is a profound human emotion prompted by the pain of others. More vigorous than empathy, the feeling commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering”. This is what Matthew shares with us in our reading tonight. That Jesus had compassion on those who were before Him because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Not just any kind of compassion but compassion to alleviate the suffering and pain of those who have been shackled by sin, death and arch enemy the devil.
In our Advent preparations of the Christ child coming to Bethlehem, we see the heavenly compassion that God provides. This compassion is evident in the life of Jesus from the cradle to the cross; from Cana to Calvary, from the Canaanite woman to the crucified criminal right next to Jesus. The Compassion of God oozes throughout all of Holy Scriptures. We read it tonight in the Old Testament lesson, that God has compassion on us more than a mother has compassion on the son she nursed. In the Epistle lesson, we read of the compassion of our High priest who went through everything like us yet without sin. And in the Gospel lesson we see this compassion as He looked at those poor people before Him. We can actually say that the Compassion of God oozes from the veins of the God who became MAN FOR US.
Study the life of the Savior, dig deep into the gold mine of God’s holy Word, travel in the footsteps of Jesus from Nazareth to Nain; Bethlehem to Bethsaida; Jericho to Jerusalem; and Galilee to Golgotha and you will see the Compassion of God displayed for the entire world to see. We see this compassion in action as our Savior actually came in contact with blind men, a woman with a 12 year issue of blood, a demon possessed man, and even a four day dead Lazarus!
But it was during Thursday and Friday of holy week that we see the greatest acts of compassion displayed on the canvas of human history. When the cross was looming in the horizon, Jesus took time to celebrate the Passover meal with His closest companions. There He loved them and served them. There He washed their feet. And there He broke the bread and lifted the cup in His memory. And the next day—Good Friday He demonstrated this compassion even further.
He had compassion on the women who wept for Him as He was heading to Jerusalem. He told them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me; weep for yourselves and for your children” (Lk. 23:28). He demonstrated compassion to the thief on the cross and told him “Today, you will be with Me in paradise.” While on the cross and His lungs aching for a breath, He showed compassion to His mother by commending her to John. All the while He was compassionately praying for Peter that he will not fall into temptation. Compassion is a way of life for our Lord. In fact, it is not a way of life for Him. Compassion was and still is HIS life.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus knows what we need. Matthew tells us that, and Jesus carried this out in His life and in His deeds. He knows us all too well. He knows that we are weak and fall and stumble daily in sin. But did you know that He worked His greatest work of saving us when He was the weakest from the cross? Right there on the cross He showed compassion by alleviating our pain of death by dying for us. Can you believe it? The Cross IS Compassion!
The Compassion of God has been carried out by our Savior and Lord from the cradle to the cross; from Cana to Calvary, from the Canaanite woman to the crucified criminal right next to Him. But it didn’t end there. It continues even today. Jesus feels sorry for us. Jesus is with us, by us and in us. He works for us. He suffers for us. He loves us. But above all He dies for us. Now that is compassion.
Even now we have a compassionate High Priest who intercedes for us before His Father in heaven. By His compassion we receive the blessings of forgiveness in holy absolution. His compassion is served us as we kneel at His table. His compassion is bestowed upon us in His Word.
We see compassion played out by our Lord in the life of Saul as he was persecuting the Church of Christ. Jesus came to him and said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). Here we see that Jesus sympathizes and empathizes with us. He cares for the needs of His redeemed people. He desires to have them not be damned or condemned; but saved and delivered.
Beloved in the Lord, The Gospel is the only source of GENUINE compassion in the world. False religions like Islam and Judaism can dress up with compassion on the outside, but they are still lifeless Law religions at heart. But the Gospel carries Christ’s ongoing compassion to those in need. Listen to the whole sentence of what I am about to say. Christianity is the only religion that is worth a damn, because Christ was willing to be damned for us!
Indeed, He was damned for us so that we may never know the damnation of God. He showed us compassion when we didn’t show compassion to others. He loved us when we where unlovable and unworthy yet He took us in. PAUSE.
In the book of Lamentations we grasp another view of the Compassion of God. Here the prophet Jeremiah paints this picture for us: “Because of the LORD’s great mercy we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him’” (Lam. 3:22-24). Here the prophet reminded the people that the mercy of God is new every morning, and there can be no greater, richer, more precious comfort for the sinner than to know the Compassion of God.
This is what we need faithful followers of the Savior. And this is what we have gotten in the man-God Jesus Christ—the Babe of Bethlehem. We get this compassion in Bethlehem. We see it in Nazareth. We read of it all around Palestine as our Lord acts out the very meaning of His name. God indeed saves. And there is no greater compassion than that. What a blessing to know the Compassion of God, to taste it and bask in it. Amen.
Now the peace…