The crowds continually dogged Jesus everywhere. Almost all the people in any of the crowds following Christ wanted something from Him: to use Him, to get their needs met, to be entertained with miracles. They constantly were demanding more and more of Him, caring little that He got rest, comfort or His needs met.

The text begins with a familiar scene of throngs of people coming to Jesus. The only way Jesus could get any kind of rest was to get into a boat with His disciples and float away. Once on land, however, the crowds pounded at His heels, demanding His attention.

Once again, we see the face of compassion in Jesus. Kent Brower writes, “The noun form of esplanchnisthe (compassion) refers explicitly to the visceral organs, the seat of emotions in first-century physiology. It is metaphorically equivalent to being ‘sick at heart’ in the English idiom. The depth of Jesus’ compassion is emphasized by this word, which is virtually synonymous with merciful (oiktirmon), a prime characteristic of God” (New Beacon Bible Commentary).

The bottom line: Jesus cares for people. As His disciples we are called to care for others. There are many faces of compassion.

Compassion Has the Face of Help
Jesus always is looking out for our best interests. He saw these people as His sheep, bewildered by life. They were looking for something more than what they had been receiving from their spiritual leaders. They needed help.

Jesus has come to bring strength that can keep us going when all other resources are gone. He comes alongside to inspire us to live above the sin-infested world, to be in the world but not of it. His compassion brings the best defense for life as He brings His Holy Spirit!

Compassion Has the Face of the World
William Barclay wrote, “Jesus teaches that human need must always be helped; that there is no greater task than to relieve someone’s pain and distress and that the Christian’s compassion must be like God’s—unceasing. Other work may be laid aside, but the work of compassion never.”

Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) said, “Mercy (compassion) has converted more souls than zeal, or eloquence, or learning or all of them together.” When people realize that we really care about them without any strings attached, they will listen to what we say by our actions and through our words.

People need our love, our relentless compassion for a desperately needy world. Henri Nouwen asked, “Why should we Christians give up our nature to be compassionate even when we get stung in a biting, stinging world?”

I thought of Kaya Jean Mueller, the humanitarian worker, who at age 26 was killed during these past few months. She dared to befriend and care for her captors during her incarceration and ultimate death. Her captors could not kill her compassion!

Compassion Has the Face of Authority
The great missionary doctor Albert Schweitzer, wrote in his book The Quest for the Historical Jesus, “He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lake side, He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same word (with authority): ‘Follow Me’ and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is” (A Guide to Prayer, by Job and Shawchuck).

His compassion mixed with authority will calm the storms in your life. His compassionate authority will cast out the sin that prevails within you. His holy authority will cleanse your heart and make you pure and give you access to a loving God!

The face of Jesus is the face of compassion. His Word assures us:
1. Jesus is available.
2. Jesus’ presence is sure.
3. Jesus’ strength is positive.

While the world searches aimlessly for compassion, Jesus comes alongside us and gives us purpose and hope for living. Without God, we are empty shells, hearts and lives; but He fills us. What a compassionate God we serve!

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