In Luke 7, Jesus intercepted a funeral procession to raise a son back to life. Teaching from this passage, Pastor Bobby Chaw reminded the church that Jesus is full of compassion.
Over the previous two weeks, City Harvest Church’s senior pastor Kong Hee preached on the topic of “The Kingdom of God And The Poor”, encouraging the church to reach out to the needy through a revival of the Church Without Walls movement. Last weekend (Aug 7 and 8), CHC’s executive pastor Bobby Chaw developed the theme with a message on the compassion of Jesus.
He preached out of Luke 7:11-16, in which Jesus had compassion for a widow and brought her only son back to life.
“The compassion of Jesus knows no bounds and limitations,” declared the pastor. Regardless of the background or condition of a person, Jesus reaches out to them with compassion. Psalms 145:8 affirms that Jesus is gracious, slow to anger and great in mercy. “As such, you can trust that God will always do the compassionate thing in every situation of our lives,” Pastor Bobby said.
Pastor Bobby emphasised that the deceased was the woman’s only son. “The grief of losing her only son is unimaginable,” he said. Yet, the most heartbreaking words were: “She was a widow.” This meant that she must have passed through the same gates in another funeral procession not long ago, weeping over her husband’s death.
Relating this to the church, Pastor Bobby noted that many are going through similar sorrows and pain. The pandemic has caused disruption and stress to marriages, careers and finances. However, the good news is that even though it seems as if many dreams have died, God is still moving in the midst of His people, said the pastor.
Jesus showed up at the funeral procession at exactly the right time, Pastor Bobby pointed out, declaring that God’s timing is perfect. Jesus arrived at the right moment to heal the widow’s son, turning her sorrow into joy.
Pastor Bobby taught the church three things that one can learn about Jesus’s compassion.
1. JESUS’S COMPASSION IS UNCONDITIONAL
The word “compassion” is splagchnizomai in Greek—it means to be moved so deeply by something that one feels it in his bowels or intestines.
“The compassion of Jesus is not determined by external conditions, it stems from deep within His heart,” the pastor taught. Often, people extend their empathy or compassion with conditions attached—they only choose to help others who have helped them. Their minds are often clouded by how they could benefit if they do a good deed. Jesus, however, was not like that.
Jesus reminded His disciples in Luke 6:35 that one should do good without expecting to get anything in return; He reminded them to be merciful just as God is merciful. “Jesus said, do good and give to others, especially to those who are incapable of repaying you,” the pastor said. He added that Christians are all called to be agents of compassion, passing on blessings from God.
He illustrated his point with the parable in Matthew 18, where a servant who owed his master ten thousand talents was forgiven. Out of compassion, his master had released him and forgiven his debt. However, this forgiven servant refused to release the debt of someone else who owed him money. When the master heard of it, he was furious with the servant and threw him in jail.
“We are to show the same kind of compassion to others, especially those in need,” the pastor said. “Compassion is meant to be given. It is meant to flow from Jesus to us; and from us to our family, friends, and to those who are poor and in need.”
Pastor Bobby shared a personal encounter from 25 years ago. His family was going through a financial crisis and he had no money for university fees. Pastor Kong and the church helped him to clear his outstanding fees so that he could complete his studies. Now, Pastor Bobby would always try to do likewise for members who experience similar financial situations. “Freely you have received, freely you must give,” he reminded the church.
2. JESUS’ COMPASSION MOVES US TO ACTION
In Luke 7:13-16, Jesus saw the widow weeping. In the next verse, He touched the open coffin and told the deceased man to rise, ignoring the fact that that made him ceremonially unclean. Pastor Bobby pointed out the six verbs used to indicate Jesus’s actions. In fact, througout the Gospel, Jesus always acted whenever He was moved by compassion.
Whether it was responding to the sick, feeding 5,000 hungry people, or helping just one grieving widow, Jesus always acted upon His compassion.
“Friends, when you are going through hardship or depression, Jesus is never distant, or indifferent, or unconcerned,” the pastor pointed out. He urged the church to continue trusting in God when they are going through hardship because Jesus’ compassion transcends any fear and limitation. He was willing to touch the open coffin to push death away.
Pastor Bobby encouraged the congregation to translate the compassion shown by Jesus into action. “Let us be Jesus’ hands and feet. Let us find a need and meet it; find a hurt and heal it. And as we do so, miracles will happen,” he said.
3. JESUS’ COMPASSION DRAWS US CLOSER TO GOD
Jesus is full of compassion because He wants to dwell with His people, said Pastor Bobby. That day, Jesus wanted the weeping widow to know that her sorrow was His, and her child was His child.
Pastor Bobby reminded the church that Christianity is not just about attending services, but it is about one’s relationship with God. So often, when one goes through trials and tribulations in life, the only thought one has is for God to carry him out of it. Many fail to realise that God shows them compassion because He wants to visit them and draw them into a deeper relationship with Him.
In Genesis 18, God visited Abraham in the form of three men. Abraham immediately bowed down (Gen 18:2) as he knew that the Divine had come. However, instead of joining them for a meal, he chose to observe them under a tree (Gen 18:8) as he thought that he was not worthy enough of joining them at the table.
Famous Russian artist, Andrei Rublev painted this scene and titled it “The Trinity”. The painting depicted God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit having a meal at the table but there was a space on the fourth side of the table. Pastor Bobby explained that this space highlighted the absence of Abraham—even though God had invited Abraham to eat with them, he was absent from the picture. God wanted communion with Abraham, not just to meet his needs.
“He wants a relationship with you,” asserts Pastor Bobby. “At his divine table, He has cleared an open space for you, with your name written on it. He’s waiting for you to come.”
Pastor Bobby ended his sermon, praying for the congregation to make room for Jesus and for His compassion.