This week’s talk/sermon

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21st July 2024

The compassion of Jesus. Ephesians 2: 11-end & Mark 6: 30-34, 53 end

During His early ministry Jesus experienced joys and struggles as He encountered people’s lives. He had also seen their lives change as they encountered God’s goodness through His teaching, healing and miracles.

He had also been rejected in His home village and saddened by the arrest and murder of John the Baptist by King Herod.

All this happened just after Jesus had sent out His disciples in pairs on their first missionary journey. Mark tells us that they were eager to report back to Jesus how they had faired spreading the good news of the kingdom of God. Unfortunately there were so many people coming and going that they couldn’t even find time to eat, so they headed off in a boat so that they could try and find a little time to be alone together.

People worked out where they were going to be so they followed on foot and arrived ahead of Jesus and His disciples. When Jesus and the disciples arrived the place was heaving with people waiting to see Jesus.

He didn’t try and run to find some precious time to be alone with His disciples, he didn’t get angry, Mark tells us that when He saw the crowds, ‘He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He started to teach them.

The word compassion here doesn’t really do justice to the reaction of Jesus when He saw the crowds. I believe that when Jesus saw the crowds, something moved deep inside him that made Him want to help them.

Our world has changed beyond measure in the last 2000 years, but I’m sorry to say that the human condition is just about the same. People are searching for something in their lives. I know that many of us have problems and challenges that can make living out our lives difficult, illness, relationship breakdown, financial problems. Our struggles might be about who we are, or where we belong in the world. Life can be a struggle; we tell ourselves and others that we are fine if we try a little harder. If only we could find our way through the mess, we find ourselves in, we should be okay.

This sounds like we are in need, like sheep without a shepherd to me. I wonder if Jesus still looks at us and sees us wandering around like lost sheep. And if He still turns to us with compassion, I believe that He does.

When people are moved with compassion they might make a financial donation to a worthy charity, support someone with a meal, or do something practical to help.

Jesus didn’t do any of these , he was so moved with compassion that He began to teach them. I would love to know what exactly Jesus said to the crowd on that day. Maybe He said something about the Kingdom of God that comes to us in the most unexpected ways. For Jesus said that the first will be last and the last first, how do you process that.

Maybe He taught them to take a step backwards and stop trying to work things out for themselves, they should turn to Him and trust in Him. For he is the one who has everything we need for life in this world and the next.

Jesus still wants to teach us this new way of life that He preached about to the crowds all those years ago. We must trust the teachings of Jesus to the point that they can really make a difference to our lives and the lives of those who we love and those we meet in our everyday lives.

Everything these days seems to be undertaken at 100 miles an hour. People want things done now; it’s a good job Amazon can deliver next day. People need to take stock, we have to take some time for ourselves, time to re-focus, I really think that we all need to slow down.

Just think for a moment, what if we were able to see each other as Jesus see us, as sheep without a shepherd, I wonder what we would see.

Whatever is happening in our lives, this story tells us that Jesus looks at each of us with a deep compassion and He can teach us a better way of life, just look at the gospels and all the characters in the Acts of the apostles whose lives were changed by following the teachings of Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We need to stop occasionally and recognise that often despite our best efforts we are still a little lost, and then listen with fresh ears to the teachings of Jesus in our bibles. Then maybe our lives will conform more and more to the way Jesus intended us to be.

Every blessing. Rev Ian.