Sunday, July 22, 2007

Trinity 7

In the Name of Christ Jesus +

In our Gospel text, Jesus shows, Jesus demonstrates one of the great virtutes, one of the wonderful feelings a Christian ought to have, our Lord indeed demonstrates how we as Christians ought to think, for we are told in verse two that Jesus says, “I have compassion upon the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat.” There Jesus is, He teaches, He preaches, and as He looks out over the crowd, He sees them, worn and tired from the work of listening, from the work of learning of God and His Word and His Will, and Jesus has compassion upon these people.

Dear friends, I would sumbit for your consideration this morning, that Compassion is a virtue that is sadly all too lacking in the world today. Compassion, to have passion with, to feel what another is feeling, to share in their burdens. Our world can be a rather indifferent place, where neighbor cares not for what happens to neighbor, where rather than living in unity we live only for ourselves. Indeed, how hard do any of you have to think to find an example where not only was compassion not shown to a neighbor, but one person steals and cheats and robs another neighbor blind. I was down in Houston this past week – how many dastardly, unloving things were reported even in the Enid newspaper while I was gone? There is a lack of compassion.

Dear friends, we see from Christ Jesus our Lord that we are to have compassion – that our thoughts and feelings and actions are to be focused upon the benefit of our neighbor. We human beings are meant, were created to work together and for each other's benefit. That is how we were created to be in the Garden, Adam to care for Eve and Eve to be a helpmeet for Adam. Think of how often Scripture praises relationships where people aid one another – the friendship of David and Jonathan, the missionary team of Paul and Barnabas, the trio of Peter and James and John – all working together, all caring for each other, all paying attention to the other's need. In other words, all having compassion upon each other. How wonderful it is when brothers dwell together in peace. Indeed, that is when compassion is there.

And this morning we have the highest example of compassion set before us – Christ Jesus our Lord. Unlike Eve who gave the fruit of death to Adam, or Adam who blamed Eve to try to save his own skin, Jesus shows true compassion. And so, in seeing our Lord's Compassion, seeing the importance which Jesus places upon compassion, let us examine ourselves. In many ways you do well here when dealing with compassion. In my three years we have seen quite a few disasters – and when I have asked that you provide aid, for Katrina, for Tsunamis, for Greensburg – you have, and I commend you. When asked to provide for new programs, you have. Our Rock program continues – and so I commend you. When asked for your help, volunteers arrive – and so I commend you. But, for a moment, let us compare ourselves to Christ – compare ourselves to the love and compassion which He shows, and examine ourselves in light of Him.

Why does Jesus show compassion? Is it because He is asked? Does Jesus desire to feed those people because one of them stands up and says, “Come on Jesus, we are hungry here!” No, Jesus sees them and has compassion. His thoughts are upon their needs. Jesus' compassion is not simply a reaction, not a response to a question that is asked Him – but rather Jesus seeks out ways in which to show love, His thoughts are upon how He can show love to His neighbor. Indeed, dear friends, that is what compassion is. And this compassion, the compassion that looks upon one's neighbor, whoever this neighbor might be, compassion that seeks the neighbor’s good – how often is that lacking? When we compare our compassion to the compassion that Christ shows, we see that ours falls short, falls short of His glory, for indeed we are sinful beings. Suppose you see someone speaking Spanish. Do you marvel at how hard and difficult it must be to move and try to support your family in a place where a strange language is spoken – or do you think, “Well, why don't they learn English?” When your neighbor suffers some misfortune – rather than desiring to share in their sufferings and aid them, do you not sometimes think, “Well, I would have planned better, I wouldn't have done that!” When there are disagreements, do you spend more time trying to have compassion and understanding why the other person does what they do, wants what they want, or do your thoughts jump to your own desires and what you like?

Dear friends – the heart, the essence of compassion – is putting the desires and wants and needs of your neighbor above your own. And that is where we are lacking. That is where we will always be lacking, to a certain extent, for our flesh has not those pure desires the spirit of the Law requires, and lost is our condition. That is what it is to sin! All too often when we think of sin we think simply of doing bad things – we pay attention to the mere actions – where as God would have us tend to the corrupt heart that desires and brings forth sin. Create in me a clean heart – a heart that is clean, a heart that has compassion and feels my neighbor's suffering, that sees their condition without spite or hatred but only love and pity. When you do something wrong – that's just a symptom, a symptom of a heart in need of cleansing – a heart that doesn't show compassion like it should. Our every thought before we act should be, “How can I best show love to my neighbor,” for that is the command that we have from Christ.

I have compassion upon the crowd.” In our text, we see Jesus have compassion. And so He acts. And so Jesus feeds them. By means of a mighty miracle, by means of Christ Jesus using His Almighty power, He provides for the people there. And so we see, we are reminded that Jesus is indeed God Almighty – that He and the Father are One – that when we speak of Jesus we speak not of just some guy, but of God Himself. Remember this, dear friends, when you are talking to friends and neighbors who don't believe or whose faith may be weak – point them to Christ's miracles – see what He does – He is indeed God. When you hear the idea that Jesus isn't really God, point to this miracle and the others like it.

But this morning, I'm not going to go into detail examining the fact that Jesus feeds these 4000 thousand people. It was wonderful – but rather than looking at the wonders that those people experienced then, this morning, ponder with me the wonder that you receive today. Dear friends, do you not know that Christ has compassion upon you. In our text, Christ beheld the hungry crowds, crowds with empty bellies, and He had compassion. Christ beholds you, sees your heart that is empty of the love that it should have, and is rather tainted and encrusted with sin – and He has compassion. He has always had compassion upon you. But God beheld my wretched state before the world's foundation, and mindful of his mercies great, He planned for my salvation. Indeed, that is why we exist – that is why God has gathered us together in His House – because He has compassion upon us. He sees us in our sin, our sin which is against Him – and His thoughts are upon what He can do to show us love. So He took upon Himself human flesh and went to the cross to win us forgiveness. He sees that we fail each other – so Christ Jesus says, “I will become Man, I will be not simply some God high above, but I will come down and be these people's Brother – and indeed I will rise again, and I will raise them to heaven be like me!”

It is not just in the past that Christ had compassion upon it – it was not just some 2000 years ago upon a Cross outside Jerusalem that Christ turned His heart to you. He does so today, He does so right now. He does so in His Word. This past week I got to see many of my friends and classmates from the Seminary. Some I hadn't seen in over 5 years. We have been scattered to all parts of the globe, scattered and sent and called for one simple reason – to preach the Word of God and to administer Christ's sacraments. Scattered to Iowa or Ohio or Alaska, scattered to New Orleans, or Russia, or Africa, people I know scattered to the four corners of the world, including here in little Lahoma, for one purpose. That Christ Jesus might be preached, preached even here in this place – so that our Lord, having compassion upon you, might give you the forgiveness of your sin, might see that your children are Baptized, might see that you receive that very Body and Blood that was crucified for you for the forgiveness of all of your sins.

And that's always been His plan. We receive the far greater miracle than just a earthly meal, than bread for the belly, and fish to fill the stomach. For today our Lord sends into His Church men who take bread, and giving thanks for it give it to His disciples today to eat – not to satisfy hunger, but to distribute forgiveness and life itself. Indeed, even as Jesus teaches the crowd, He is training His disciples so that there will be people to hand out Communion, to preach to all the world – and even today He calls people to be His servants to preach the Word, to continue to show His compassion. Is that not awesome – is that not beyond what our mind can hold – that God has such compassion that for over a hundred years He has sent men even here to little Lahoma so that countless sinners might be forgiven – just as He sent Peter to Antioch and Rome, and Paul to Epheseus and Galatia and Athens – just as He sent Luther to Wittenburg and Walther to Missouri – God sent Rosell and Hanusch, and Wuerfulman, all the men on that wall in the parish hall, to see that you in Lahoma are fed on His Word and have life. This is His compassion to you – that your sin is richly forgiven over and over in His House!

Dear friends, learn from Christ's compassion. Learn how you are to struggle and strive to shape your own compassion. And in the midst of your struggles to tame your sinful heart – remember, indeed receive from the hand and the mouth of Christ's own servant here, receive the forgiveness which cleanses that heart, and gives you life eternal and heaven itself. Christ Jesus has won you forgiveness upon the Cross, and He gives that forgiveness to you now, so that you might share in His resurrection for all eternity. Amen

1 comment:

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

I was happy to read this before going to work today. Thank you.