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Do we see what He sees?

Matthew 9:36

When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd

1. What does Jesus see?

Well in typical Jesus fashion he sees people. Jesus came for people, he came to save people. Jesus didn’t come to earth to debate the holly rollers or to preach in churches did he? He came to eat with tax collectors and sinners. And you can just imagine Jesus looks out over the crowds of people and it just breaks his heart because there is just so much work to do.

Jesus didn’t get angry and see just a bunch of sinners that needed to be scolded or reprimanded, he saw potential and hope and his heart went out with pity and love for them.

What does Jesus see? He sees the people who no one sees. He sees the lost, the broken, the untouchable, the unlovable, he sees the world that he made, and he sees the people that need Him most.

2. What does Jesus feel?

He felt compassion, right? This is what we’ve been talking about today. This is our ingredient. What is compassion?

It’s the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress combined with the desire to alleviate it.

Why alleviate it? Well, why did we say last week “come as you are” but “don’t stay that way?” Because repentance, and turning, and maturing and growing are essential because the alternative is hell. Jesus has compassion and he is moved to emotion because he knows, if these people don’t change… the only future they have is punishment.

You know when I was a kid, I got spanked so much my Dad turned it into a career. I think he could have filed that as his job on his W2 at the end of the year. I was a bad kid. And you know, as a kid, you think that your parents ENJOY punishing you don’t you? As if your parents just loved to punish you, loved to yell at you, loved to ground you to your room. But what is the reality?

No way. Parents don’t enjoy punishing their children. It breaks their hearts. Sometimes the parents cry afterward more than the kids do. So why do it? Because correction is absolute in order to deter the child from a future that is much much worse.

The parent has grown up and seen the future, and so now it’s their job to grow the child and yes to correct the child so that they can enjoy the fruits of adulthood and maturity.

Jesus looks out over the crowd with compassion because he has seen … the future hasn’t he?

Listen, I said it last week and I will repeat it again, we do not have to agree with someone’s lifestyle, beliefs or actions in order to show them compassion or grace. Sin is still sin and even the lost son in Jesus’ story repents and admits he was wrong.

But where would you and I be if Jesus hadn’t had compassion on us? Where would we be without grace?  So our prayer should be that Jesus would help us see what He sees, and to feel what He feels so that He could care like he cared.  And…

3. What did Jesus care for?

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd

Jesus showed concern because the people were like sheep without a shepherd.

Jesus looks out at the crowds and he sees that the people are ignorant of their condition, they are lost and helpless and he thinks to himself, “Man, these people need leadership! They need guidance, they need direction!”

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Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy

Donald Miller is a best-selling American author and public speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee who focuses on Christian spirituality. He is best known for his best seller “Blue Like Jazz..”

My wife had told me a while back that Donald Miller had gotten married I remember thinking, “good for him” because I knew he had been single for an awfully long time. SO when I saw “Scary Close” I think I was a little surprised to see that it was labeled as a “Christian Marriage” book.

It’s not really a Christian Marriage book, or really a book about marriage, in fact the book ends with Miller’s wedding and I am sure he would be the first person to admit that he hasn’t really gained enough experience to write a book about “being” married.

But what I think this book has to offer, especially for singles is the importance of honesty and transparency. Especially when you’re dating, there is this great need to be something that you’re not. To put on a show and “peacock” for your interest, but those images of yourself ultimately are fictitious and while they might help you for a while grab the interest of the opposite sex, you’re not going to find that special someone to share intimacy with unless you yourself can learn to be an intimate person.

Fans of Blue Like Jazz will remember Miller’s brutal honesty. His book was written therapeutically and it spoke to it’s reader because it was written from a place of honesty. “Scary Close” taps into that same voice and walks the reader through Miller’s dating life until he gets engaged.

Like Blue Like Jazz this is not a “Christian helps” book although I am sure that’s where the bookstore people will put it. It’s really a story because Miller is a story teller. You’re not going to find long drawn out theology, or 5 simple steps… rather you’ll sit down and explore with Miller his journey towards letting his guard down and letting others in.

It’s a great read, Miller is a wonderful author and it’s well recommended.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for this review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Are you a friend of sinners?

In the story of the prodigal son that we’ve been looking at, who does Jesus want you to be? The obedient son or the disobedient son?

Neither!

In this story Jesus wants us to be the Father! And what attribute does the Father have?

Compassion.

A Christian is compassionate.

Compassion is the Greek word splagchnizomai from the root word “splangnon” which means your gut – your bowels. The Greeks used to believe that the root of love, pity and compassion and forgiveness came from your bowels.

We just had Valentine’s Day – and our symbol for love is a heart, but a Greek valentine’s card would say, “I love you with all of my splangnon – I love you with all of my guts.”

Tell me something, was Jesus a man of compassion?

Matthew 9:36

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd

Matthew 14:14

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick

When Jesus tells the story of the unforgiving servant…. Jesus teaches

Matthew 18:26-27

So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’  And out of compassion for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.

When Jesus heals the two blind men…. the Bible says,

Matthew 20:34

And Jesus in compassion touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

The Pharisees and the scribes wanted to know why Jesus ate with the lost and what was Jesus’ answer? He had compassion for them. Did he agree with their lifestyle? Condone it? Approve of it? Think it was fine and groovy and they could live that way forever? No, even the prodigal son returns and admits his fault, right? But for now.. Jesus was showing compassion for those who were lost.

Right? Isn’t that what Jesus was saying that the tax collector and the sinners – they were the lost sheep – they were the lost coin – they were the lost son.

The Pharisees and scribes said “Jesus, what about you – how could you eat with these people?” And Jesus said…

“What about me? What about you!  Do you care that people all around you are dying and going to Hell? Your sons and daughters, Mothers and Fathers, husbands and wives, friends and loved ones are dying and going to Hell!” Jesus says, “It is time for us to wake up and realize that there are many lost people and there is much work to do!”  What did Jesus say in Luke 10

Luke 10:2

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

The Pharisees and the scribes said “Why is Jesus a friend of sinners?” And Jesus turned their fingers back on themselves and said, “Why aren’t you?”

Today,  I want to ask this question “Are You A Friend Of Sinners?”

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The good son or the bad son?

Luke 15:1-2

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

See the Pharisees and the scribes had a question about Jesus’ behavior because it didn’t line up with the behavior of those he ate with. And Jesus is trying to correct their thinking in that…. “this has nothing to do with their behavior.”

See, the younger son tells the Dad, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son” and you know what? He’s right.

The older son refuses to join the party, because his younger brother is a misbehaving miscreant and he doesn’t deserve a party and you know what? He’s right.

Well, if both sons are right then I guess the Father is wrong….

Oooh, I wouldn’t go there, would you? Can the Father in this story be wrong? Uh not if you believe the Father in this story is God.

But if the younger son doesn’t deserve this, why is he reinstated?  Well, because for Jesus it’s not about what we deserve and it’s not about our behavior. Watch what happens next…

v28-30  His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours (not my family) came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’

The older son says, “I’ve been religious all my life, I have followed all the rules, I have lived a life of righteousness – I am the first born!” And what does God say….

v31-32 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

The Dad in the story says, “Oh you thought it was all about performance. You thought the big feast was a reward for your brother? No, my son. It’s not about performance and it’s not a reward, it’s simply that your brother has come home.”

You see the answer is right there in the very first words –  the Father says…. Son, you are always with me. Did the older son have to earn his Father’s love? Do your children have to earn your love? No. The Father says to the older and obedient son, “Our relationship is great, because you never left. You are always with me and all that I have is yours.”

“But your younger brother left.” You see, the Father wasn’t worried about the money, the Father wasn’t worried about the younger son’s behavior… why?

Well, for those of us who have been blessed with kids, what’s the first thing you ask when you hear your child has been in an accident? “Are you ok?” Yea, but what about the car?

What about the property that was involved, there is going to be police reports and questions and insurance claims, what about the financial nightmare…. doesn’t matter. Right? The money… that is lost…is lost.

In other words “the behavior” that took place, that doesn’t matter – what matters? Well, what matters is that you are with me.

“Son, daughter, how are you – were you hurt?” For the Father what matters is not the money, but the relationship.

These three stories of Jesus they are about broken and restored relationships. They are about lost and found things and Jesus says “heaven rejoices” when the lost are found. Heaven rejoices when the relationships are restored.

Jesus has two groups of people listening to him talk – good guys and bad guys, people in white hats who’ve been good all their lives, people who have never left the relationship and people in black hats, who’ve lived questionably all their lives and people who are not close to God and Jesus tells them…

God could not love you more and … and there is nothing you could to – to make God love you less.

So, in this story, who does Jesus want you to be?

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Angry Birds

Last week we mentioned a few of Jesus’ more famous teachings like the lost sheep and the lost coin and so this morning I wanted to look at those and see what we could see. Luke 15 starts this way…..

Luke 15:1-32

Now the tax collectors and sinners …

(who was that? Who were the tax collectors and sinners?)

Well, this is the Mafia, their thugs and everyone else who was unacceptable in the minds of the people… this is the worst of the worst. The people who were traditionally alienated from religious circles. And these are the people who Jesus is sitting with…

Luke 15:1-2

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

(Well, who is that? Who are the Pharisees and Scribes?)

These are the legalists and the doctrinally trained. These are the holy rollers and the goody-two-shoes.

And these people are upset, because back in Jesus’  day, eating with someone was a way of saying that you were “in” with them, or that you “agreed” with them – or that they were “your people.”

So in this scene so far, the people that Jesus perhaps agrees the most with theologically, he’s ignoring them and in turns he eats and hangs out with sinners. And the Pharisees and the scribes are concerned because it looks to them like Jesus ‘likes’ these people and they are worried that Jesus also then agrees with their behavior, or their lifestyle or their sin….

But I would argue that Jesus knew this would rub them the wrong way, and so he did this to prove a point. But rather than defend himself, Jesus uses this as an opportunity to tell a story.

v3-4 So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, …”

Wait, how does Jesus start talking about his choice of dinner companions? He begins with sheep…. why? Because this is how Jesus operates. He has two audiences – he has ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ so he has to level the field so to speak and direct his argument at everyone’s range; so Jesus begins with something that everyone is familiar with.

v3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, … does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?

Who here has ever lost something? That’s what I thought, everyone. And what do you do – when you lose something? You go and look for it. When do you STOP looking? Typically when you find it. That’s why people say, “It was in the last place I looked.”

Of course it was, nobody ever finds what they were looking for and KEEPS looking. And so what has Jesus done with this story? He has found a subject matter and an idea that everyone who is listening to, understands.

Who hasn’t ever lost something – and who doesn’t know what it means to go and look for it?

v5-6 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’

Who hasn’t done that? That when you find your item, you tell your spouse, or you tell your kids the harrowing story of you searching for the lost item and the glorious capture of when you found it? And then… as his kicker, Jesus says this….

v7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Who is Jesus talking about? Still sheep? No, he is talking about Tax-collectors, sinners, Pharisees and scribes. Jesus continues…

v8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?

What’s that about? Well, some people think Jesus is talking about a wedding dowry. Traditional Hebrew dowry for a poor family was 10 coins. So this woman is saving this for her husband. And these would have been special coins, irreplaceable, so naturally very valuable, Yes? And every woman listening to Jesus’ story would agree – “yes, that is exactly what I would do.”

v9-10 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’  Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

And again he finishes his second example saying, when one sinner repents (or ‘is found’) heaven rejoices. And now Jesus tells the most famous of his ‘lost item’ trilogy.

v11-12 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’

Which is the nice translation. The reality of what this son is saying is, “Dad, I wish you were dead. I can’t believe you’re not dead yet. I have been waiting for you to die, and it’s just not happening, so here is what I want…give me what I am owed…. NOW”

What a rude boy. Jesus’ audience would have been deeply offended. This is a disgraceful thing to ask for. Everyone listening to this story is thinking, ‘this kid deserves a swift kick in the teeth,’ but what does the Father do?

v12-13 And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.

Can you imagine, all of the wealth this Father had amassed in a lifetime in a matter of weeks, this young man spends all of it. Wastes all of it.

v14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.

Ah, now Jesus’ story has gotten good again. His listeners are back to liking this story. Good moral. This punk is getting what he deserves.

v15-16 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

Even better. This is a great story. I’m going to remember this story and tell it to my own kids, If you break the laws of Moses, honor your Father and Mother you get what you deserve. This is a great example of sewing and reaping. Thank you Jesus.

But the story is not over….

v17-20 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father.

What do you think the audience is thinking now? Well, probably what THEY WOULD DO if this were THEIR son…. “Oh if this were MY son he’d be grounded until his clothes went out of style.”

v20 But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

Well….This is a turn in the story, because THIS is NOT the ending that everyone who was listening expected. This was not the ending that the people listening to the story even liked. Nobody likes this ending. Why? Because this son humiliated his father and squandered his father’s money and the Father has every right to be … what… ANGRY!

The Dad should be angry! He has every right to be ANGRY! Yea, but how does this chapter start? Jesus is eating with Tax collectors and sinners and the ‘religious people” were…. ANGRY!  And Jesus knows they are angry so he says, “let’s talk about that…”

And in a justifiable circumstance, where the Father has every right to be angry, the Father’s response wasn’t anger it was…(what does the Bible say?) compassion. The Father who was hurt, abused and mistreated by his son – felt “compassion.” This son had spit his father in the eye! But when he sees his son from a long way off, he runs to his son with compassion.

Jesus’ audience both ‘good guys and bad guys’ have agreed with Jesus’ stories all the way up until now …and now… they certainly do not agree with him. But Jesus keeps going….

v21-24 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.  For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

He’s back. The misbehaving son is back and with one act, he is re-established back into the family as an equal as if he had never left.

v25-28 “Now his older son was (the behaving son, the obedient son, the righteous son) in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.  And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.  And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in.

I heard a Sunday School teacher was teaching this same story and she described to her class about how the lost son was returned and how the father gave the lost son a ring and sandals and how he killed the fattened calf. And the Sunday school teacher then made a grumpy face when describing the older son’s response and her question was – who was the most sorry that the lost son came back?

And one little boy raised his hand and said – “the fattened calf.”

But here is your word again…. the obedient son was angry. Tell me something, shouldn’t this lost son at least get a 90 day trial period? He made a huge mistake, what if he wakes up tomorrow and does it all over again? I mean sure, forgive him I guess that’s the “Christian thing” to do, but shouldn’t he be on probation? He shouldn’t be treated as a child in the family the very same day?

Jesus is teaching a story – and a theme – about how God looks at sinners, about how God recovers and seeks out sinners AND how “religious people” look at sinners.

Jesus says “God has compassion, God seeks them out, but religious people seem to get ANGRY when it comes to sinners and sin.”

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