Trinity VII Sunday

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Trinity VII

Mark 8: 1-9

I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat.”

When we read the gospel passage for today, we realize that Jesus was back in Galilee after a retreat with his disciples over the past few weeks in the region of Tyre and Sidon.  We also remember his teaching of last week about righteousness and how he broke down that theme: if you are angry with your brother or your sister, Jesus says, you deserve to go to jail; and if you call him or her a hurtful name, you will go to hell. Before you try to come before God and do anything, you better straighten your affairs out with the people around you.

Today’s lesson is the continuation of that theme of righteousness. Here, Jesus gave a practical example of what righteousness is all about.

If I have to describe our Christianity, I will go to just one word, compassion. This English word is given by two Latin words: cum (meaning with) and patio (meaning to suffer). Literally put, compassion is therefore “suffering with”. It does not just telling someone that I am sorry. Compassion means I really understand the condition and situation of the person who is suffering and I decide to live with him in that situation.

The Bible says in Psalm 116: 5 that, “The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion”.

The compassion of God toward us is without conditions or discrimination. When Jesus looked at the crowd, he was moved with compassion. This is a mixed crowd: Jews and Gentiles; Men and women; Adults and children. They all had only one thing in common. They were hungry. For what? For the teaching of Jesus. Think about it: what else would keep them in the company of Jesus, at that particular location (wilderness), for three days? They were first spiritually hungry for the word of God, and now physically hungry.

From Spiritual hunger to physical hunger

The question to you this morning is this: have you ever come to the place in your spiritual life where you are just hungry for God? Have you ever reached that stage on your spiritual journey where you desire his company and his fellowship more than anything else? Have you ever experienced that?

King David said this: “One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life. To behold the beauty of the LORD. And to meditate in His temple”. Can you say the thing today? Have you ever had the experience that you feel like you live beyond noise and time? That you don’t need to be looking at your watch to see if it is already time for you to leave the presence of the Lord and be involved in another activity? Listen, these people had come for a preaching and when the sermon went overtime, they didn’t complain. I’ve heard people complain when a sermon went three minutes over. This sermon of today’s gospel went on for three days.

But this crowd had not come prepared for a three day sermon. They had not come with Hot-dog, Burger King, Cheese-Burger, chicken-Nuggets, or French-fries. And this was the problem. How to feed this hungry-crowd? Some of them were so hungry that they might not safely make their way back home. That’s why Jesus turned to his disciples in order to assess the matter.

 Jesus, the Lord of compassion

“I feel compassion for the crowd…” he said. The kingdom of God that Jesus came to establish is about reaching out to people. It’s about touching people. It’s about transforming people. And the way we reach out, touch, and transform others is through compassion.

Jesus’ compassion addressed both the spiritual roots and social consequences of people’s problems. He gave hope, where people had abandoned hope. He declared forgiveness, where people were tormented by guilt. He brought healing, where there was sickness. He fed the hungry, where there was hunger. Compassion is concerned for people’s spiritual and social problems.

Beloved, we are challenged by Jesus to be compassionate and merciful, just as he was. We are called to be compassionate not judgmental. In Jesus, God had shown mercy to us. We should therefore be active in showing compassion to others. Compassion can be shown in the simplest ways! God wants us to be sensitive to the burdened and confused people and then help them. That’s what compassion does. Compassion is action! It’s not just a lip service. It gets involved and takes a risk! And that’s what Jesus did throughout his ministry.

Therefore, confess your need for Christ. Tell him that you are empty. Admit you are a sinner whose only hope is Christ. Invite him to bring his life-changing presence into your life. From there make every effort to follow his commands as revealed in the Bible. And you will be saved.