Week Commencing 16th September 2018
Notes for next Sunday’s sermon on Matthew 9:35-38, “Compassion”
Background: In October, we are looking forward to the return visit of Kevin Simington. In three sermons and two seminars he will address some of the issues which are ‘belief blockers’ for many of our friends.
|Three Sunday talks – all services
14 Oct Where’s all the evidence?
21 Oct Why aren’t you more obvious?
28 Oct Hasn’t science disproven you?
|Two Wednesday night seminars
7.15pm-8.30pm – Tewantin site
17 Oct Why didn’t you stop the abuse?
24 Oct Why don’t you end all the suffering?
Over the next three Sundays, in preparation for Kevin’s visit, we want to ask the question “do we care enough about others to invite them to hear these talks and/or seminars”?
So, why should we invite people? Why not just leave people to their own beliefs? Why risk alienation and ridicule? What if people are rude or dismissive when I invite them?
So next Sunday, we begin a short, three-week series, which looks like this:
Why invite others to hear about Jesus?
2 Corinthians 5:11-14
2 Corinthians 5:14-21
DAY 1: Read Matthew 9:35-38
It’s true that we looked at this passage last year in our Compassion series. However, I don’t think it will hurt us to look at it again. We’ll slow down a little and take a verse at a time.
v35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
This verse describes Jesus’ basic mission. His first priority was to teach. That is why he came. He came to reveal the love of the Father and the very nature of God. The content of his teaching was the ‘good news of the kingdom’ – namely that because he had come, the Kingdom had come. That Kingdom promised to David which we saw again and again in our 2 Samuel series. The Kingdom which would address all injustices, bring an end to evil, reconcile people to God and one another! That Kingdom had come in the coming of the Lord Jesus. This was glorious news. His Kingdom had long been awaited and anticipated and was now ‘here’. As Jesus taught and proclaimed the kingdom, he also healed every disease and sickness. Why did these seemingly distinct activities go together? Because the healings were a living demonstration that the Kingdom had indeed come. They were an audio-visual that Jesus was who he said he was, and that his kingdom – when it comes in all its fullness – will in fact bring an end to every sickness and disease! Why? Because his victory over evil at his death and resurrection would reverse the impact of the fall. (The is the word we use for mankind’s rebellion against God. When Adam and Eve decided they’d rather be God and do their own thing, the whole world was thrown out of whack. That which had been declared ‘very good’ by God at creation, was not good any more. Everything was damaged by mankind’s rebellion against God. Yet Jesus’ coming, addressed all of that!) While we still wait to see the kingdom come in all final fullness, we experience anticipatory blessings of that Kingdom every day! And in the meantime, we pray ‘your Kingdom come’.
DAY 2: Read Matthew 9:36
What does ‘harassed and helpless’ mean? What are sheep without a shepherd, like?
The sheep and shepherd image would have been very powerful. In Jesus’ time, sheep without a shepherd were quite useless. They were confused and very vulnerable. They had no idea where they were going and would not survive longer than about 24 hours without someone showing them to food and drink and protecting them. That is how Jesus saw this crowd. The ‘shepherds’ of Israel were not doing their job, so the people were lost and helpless. Interestingly, this is not the first time this phrase is used in the Bible. When Moses was old and he was thinking through a succession plan he prayed: May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd. Numbers 27:16-17. (See also 1 Kings 22:17, Isaiah 13:14 and Mark 6:34.)
Jesus is the ultimate answer to Moses’ prayer centuries earlier! He will be that shepherd the people needed. He is described in John 10 as the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep!
Friends, people who do not know our shepherd are today ‘harassed and helpless’, like sheep without a shepherd. They do not know who to turn to in life. They lack the care, wisdom, guidance, provision and protection of our shepherd. They don’t know where to find ultimate spiritual nourishment and fulfilment. They are vulnerable to being led astray by anyone who will take them captive for their own purposes. People you know and love and live with and near and who do not know Jesus, are like sheep without a shepherd. The Lord is not their shepherd. They have no place to lie down. No safe place to feed or water. In the valley of the shadow of death, they DO fear evil, for they do not know the presence of God with them. They are still at war with their enemies, and goodness and love will not follow them all the days of their life. They will not dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Do you feel for them? Does your heart go out to them? Do you want for them so much more in life than they currently know? Then you are feeling something of Jesus’ compassion described in this passage!
DAY 3: Read Matthew 9:36
The Greek word translated ‘compassion’ in this passage, is splagchnizomai. It means “to be moved as to one’s bowels, hence to be moved with compassion, have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity)”. The word refers to that anxious knotted feeling one has over something which distresses you but over which you have no control. It was a ‘gut-wrenching’ compassion which Jesus had for these lost souls.
I wonder whether you feel anything like this when you are with the lost people from across the Noosa region? When you’re down at the shops at Tewantin or over at Noosa Civic or up at the Junction. Take a look around you. There are thousands of people ‘harassed and helpless’. Most of the time we don’t even consider where these people are at with God, nor take into consideration their eternal destiny.
DAY 4: Read 2 Matthew 9:37-28
Note Jesus’ answer to his gut-wrenching compassion. He tells his disciples to ‘ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ Pray for more workers.
The harvest here on the Sunshine Coast is plentiful. There is great potential for the gospel to bring perspective, hope, joy and life to people’s lives. People need to hear about Jesus, to hear about his love – his offer of forgiveness and eternal life. They need to hear too that Jesus is the Judge who will call them to account if they’ve lived life without him.
So – we definitely need more workers and need therefore, to pray for more workers.
But we are not just talking about paid professionals who will do the work for us!! Workers doesn’t equal clergy! We need people from our congregations who have a heart and passion for Jesus and a heart and a passion for people, who by putting those two passions together cannot help talk about Jesus! And we need people to join with us in loving and serving the people of our region, that they might be touched by the love and generosity of Jesus’ followers!
Why would you invite someone to the upcoming series? Because you have compassion on them – because you (like Jesus) see them as like sheep without a shepherd. So, because you care, pray and because you care, invite!