Monday, April 4, 2011

Christ: The King of Care Givers

Contemplated for April 4, 2011, but not written into a sermon.

Scripture readings:
Deuteronomy 8:1-10; Mark 6:30-44

There is a powerful compassion in Jesus that is divine and sometimes seems to be completely foreign to human nature. Sometimes it seems completely foreign to us, except that it enters into our hearts through our relationship with Jesus. It becomes the center of what Jesus desires to do within us.

Paul in Philippians 1:8, talks about longing he felt for the presence of his spiritual brothers and sisters. He longed for them with “the bowels of Christ”. “Bowels” is the Greek word that (translated literally) describes the passion and compassion that a person feels so strongly that it is like a physical feeling in the gut.

This feeling makes it hard for us to sit still. It makes us want to do something about it. This is a feeling that gives us a mission; something to do. It changes us and it makes us into instruments of change in the lives of others. Jesus gives us the work of his compassion.

The compassion of Jesus seemed to move in his “bowels”; the central organs of the body. The compassion of Jesus runs deeper than thought and calculation. It is a compassion moved by instinct and by nature. It is very much the motivation behind everything that Jesus is, and says and does. This applies to us as receivers and witnesses of his grace. It motivates us as partners in his grace reaching out to others.

It is a compassion that gives, even where it may seem (in some ways) unnecessary. The literal text of the story tells us that the people could have gone out to buy food for themselves; and there is no reason given here to doubt this. The compassion of Jesus is almost like the most gracious hospitality. Real love loves extravagantly.

It is a king’s job to feed his people. See King David, with the thanksgiving sacrifices that he offered along the roadway when he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. Every six steps of the way, from the little village where the Ark had been kept, all the way to Jerusalem, David ordered a bull and a fattened calf to be sacrificed. (2 Samuel 6:12) This was a sacrifice that was intended to be cooked and eaten by the crowd that gathered along the road for the great event. As King of Israel, David was feasting his people.

In the journey from slavery in Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land, the Lord God, as the true King of Israel, fed his people in the wilderness with manna as their daily bread.

As King of Israel, Jesus fed his people by teaching them, and healing them, and by providing them with that miraculous meal of bread and fish.

In the gospel stories, beside the Sea of Galilee, Jesus showed his care for the whole person (mental, and physical, and spiritual). So should we.

Jesus’ compassion was deep even when the needs of others interrupted his plans for the disciples. The compassion of Jesus, working through us, demands that we give free rein to his love even when the need for it comes in the form of interruptions.

Matthew tells us (in his version of this story) the additional, specific information that Jesus was teaching them about the kingdom of God. We know that the core of the kingdom of God would turn out to be Jesus’ work of the new creation. The kingdom of God comes from the incarnation of God in Christ. The kingdom comes through the death of Christ on the cross to take away sin. It comes through the resurrection of Christ that conquers the power of death.

When we share the care-giving of Jesus, we live out the new creation that Jesus puts in us. We show the kingdom of God to the world, and we do this as ordered by Jesus, who said, “You give them something to eat.”


  1. Hi, Pastor Dennis,

    Most definitely something I needed to read today!

    Another inspirational piece.
    I'm always grateful for your wonderful comments and continued support!
    It means the whole world!

    Have a great rest of your weekend, and hope yur life is nothing but immense.


  2.'s a compassion moved by instinct, so well said.