Compassion in Action – Matt. 15:32-16:12

July 3, 2011
INTRODUCTION – Last week we recognized that if we are to see the answer to our prayer and our theme for this year, “Your Kingdom Come” – – we’ve got to know our King better, and we must understand His kingdom better. We must learn to feel the way He feels about things, and respond the way He responds to needs and situations.

Last week from Matt. 15:29-31 we discussed the truth that Jesus Christ wants to heal the sick today as much as He did 2,000 + years ago.

The second truth we see about Jesus Christ in the last paragraph of ch. 15 starting with vs. 32 is this:

I. Jesus Christ cares about the physical needs of the multitudes. He always has and He always will until He brings an end to this age where sin and Satan continue to wreak havoc in our society. Vs. 32-38 (read it)

5 observations or truths from this passage that can enable us to be His instruments in meeting the needs of the multitudes
A. Our Savior abounds in compassion for the physical needs of people.

This isn’t the first time Jesus fed the multitudes you know. If you go back to ch. 14, Jesus had withdrawn in a boat to process the disturbing news of his cousin John’s senseless murder by King Herod. The crowds discover where He is and come to Him. Jesus comes ashore and the scriptures say He, “felt compassion for them and healed their sick.” Well the disciples – being the perceptive bunch that they were – urged Jesus late in the evening to send the crowds away so that they could find food on their own. Jesus had met their spiritual and health needs and that was enough they probably reasoned. But Jesus saw their physical need and wanted to meet that as well.

In our passage for today – some weeks or months after the feeding of the 5,000 men + women and children, Jesus actually states to His disciples, “I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” For three solid days Jesus had selflessly ministered healing to the crowds, and while I’m sure they were all ecstatic about their sicknesses being healed; the reality is they were very hungry. Whatever food they might have thought to bring with them had quickly run out. You or I might have settled for all those victories and all of that accomplishment. But not Jesus. His compassion moved Him to meet their need for food as well.

When Jesus was with people –whether an individual, a family, or with the crowds – He took note of their needs, and His heart moved Him to do something about them. The greek verb translated here “I feel compassion” means to “feel deep sympathy” – – it speaks of strong emotion in response to someone’s need. In this case the physical need of crowds of hungry common folk.

B. When our Savior wants to meet those physical needs, He looks to His disciples to be His conduits of that blessing and provision. Vs. 32-34
Surely with all of the miracles we have seen Jesus do by this point in His ministry, He could have asked the Father to send down enough bread and fish to feed this crowd – – and He would have done so immediately. But Jesus delights in working through His disciples. He wants us to not only share His heart for needy people, but He wants to use us to meet their need. He wants us to be involved in the whole process – from beginning to end – following His lead and doing things His way.

C. Disciples are to bring Him or offer Him what they have; not complain or explain away His call because of what they do not have. Vs. 34 “Where would we get so many loaves in this desolate place to satisfy such a large crowd?” is not a question we want to be found asking – – especially when we have seen Him do such amazing things in the past; and for us – when we have this book that tells us in every possible way how great a God our God is. Here you are – standing in the presence of the Messiah who has done every kind of miracle you can imagine; and shown Himself to be Lord over nature and sickness and demons…. And you’re asking “where would we get so many loaves?” Disciples need to know that God can do amazing things with our little.

D. Jesus started meeting the overwhelming need of a huge crowd of people through His disciples before multiplying the food. In other words He multiplied it as it was needed; not in one lump sum beforehand. Vs. 35-37 Jesus Christ is not necessarily into this sense we often have – that we have to have all of our ducks in a row before we launch out to meet a need. The critical question is not: do I have all the necessary resources right now. The critical question is: Is He calling me to meet the need? If He is, then we have to trust that the resources will be there when we need them – usually not before.

E. These people were not necessarily poor and destitute. They just had a need in the present that Jesus wanted to meet. This isn’t a passage necessarily about feeding the poor. There are plenty of those in the scriptures. This is a passage about meeting the physical needs of the people you have been ministering to spiritually. For us it could be opening up a room in your home for a person to live in for a period of time. It could be anyone at any time, who has a need that because of their present circumstances God might want to use you to help meet. God cares about the particulars of people’s lives – He cares about all their needs – – whether they are born again, tithing, church going folk or not.

II. Danger! Danger!! 16:1-12 3 observations or truths
A. Miracles are not for miracles sake. In many cases, throughout scripture and throughout the life and ministry of Jesus, they served to meet a real need. God will do miracles at His initiative to accomplish His work. He will not be seen or used as a genie to accomplish our selfish purposes. Finishing this thought positively – the more we have God’s heart for people; the more we are convinced that He cares about any and every real need in their lives; the more we are willing and ready to be His instrument to meet that need – the more we can expect Him to show up and do His supernatural part of the equation. Vs. 1-4

B. What the leaven is not! Obviously this warning was not about food. Vs. 5-12

C. What the leaven is! In a word as vs. 12 says, it is the teaching of the Pharisees and Scribes. But let me attempt to make this a little more clear. The leaven of the Pharisees and Scribes is the empty – though fervent religion they practiced – and that is alive and well today, that seeks to use God and people for its own preservation. It is that sick mentality that any of us can have at any given time that seeks to use God as a genie, instead of to know Him and discover how we can please Him; it is a mentality that could really care less about the needs of people around them – – as long as we can have a religious experience; and as long as people think highly of us spiritually or religiously speaking. It is a religious system modeled and taught by hard hearted men, who unlike Jesus, who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; these men came to be ministered unto. Their object of worship is really themselves. Their greatest concern is themselves. And their ministry to people is really about themselves.

James 2:15-16 “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “God in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?”

I Jn. 3:17-19 “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

Prayer of Response:
1. That every one of our members can grow in feeling true compassion for the needs of people around us.

2. That we would not disqualify ourselves in meeting needs because of our lack of resources – – instead being utterly confident that God will come through with whatever we lack.

3. That we would all avoid like the plague – the leaven of the Pharisees and Scribes – – empty religion that ignores and is unwilling to get involved with meeting the needs of the people God connects us with.

4. That we would not forget the provision of God in the past; nor the lessons from His provision in the past.

Call to Fall time of prayer for our nation:
1. That the knowledge of God and the fear of the Lord would be poured out on our nation.

2. That our president, vice president, cabinet members and all their spouses would repent of their sins and bow before the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

3. That God would have mercy on our nation for aborting our babies, legalizing the abortion of our babies, making money from the abortion of our babies, etc.

4. That God would revive the church – – breaking off of us spiritual laziness and apathy and passivity.

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