Saturday, April 14, 2012

His Compassion

I've often wondered why Jesus was moved to compassion when meeting the needs of the multitudes.  The simple definition of compassion is loving concern.  He personified love incarnate and yet had to be moved to love. Why?  Perhaps because He knew they needed unconditional love; they are distressed and downcast because they do not have a shepherd and He is moved to compassion. The people received little, if any, compassion from their leaders.  Jesus said; 'Do unto others AS you would have done unto you.'  The religious leaders twisted that into; 'I will do for you but only after you do according to the conditions of the Law.'  Jesus' response was to fulfill the law by loving His neighbor as Himself; the overflow of loving God with all His heart, mind, soul and strength.

He begins the Father's business by turning His neighbor's water into the best wine they'd ever had.  He makes His way to the Temple at Passover, desiring to honor the memory of how his Father saved Israel from Egypt's death.  Only to discover His Father's house has been turned into a marketplace.  With passionate zeal He overturns tables and runs them off, so that the people could again know God's holiness in their place of worship. Then He encounters a teacher of Israel, Nicodemus, and tells him what it means to be born again; that God loves the world so much He's giving His only begotten Son so that whoever BELIEVES, not just follow the conditional Law, would have eternal life.  Next is a woman at a well and He asks her for a drink of water.  She's surprised such a man would even speak to her.  He proceeds to tell her all about herself and then reveals He is Messiah.  I love how excited she was for she leaves her water pot at the well and dashes back to town announcing "Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is the Messiah is it not?!"  They believe her testimony and follow her back to Jesus. 

Lepers are healed, blind are given sight, deaf begin to hear, demons are cast out and many are fed with nothing more than a few loaves and fishes.  Upon seeing the multitudes He feels their pain, understands their heartache, finally He can love them as God's son.  He is the wine that will quench their thirst.  They can freely worship in the beauty of holiness; because He is the temple. Eternal life is possible simply by believing in Him.  Excitement grows because people now know someone who loves them in spite of themselves, a powerful testimony to the masses.  Humanity knows Jesus speaks with authority and manifests loving concern for them.  His love was so great and yet He was moved to love all the more, even before He'd lovingly laid down His life. Amazing!  Mankind still needs Jesus to be moved to compassion. The thing is it happens when WE love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and our neighbor as ourself.  Why?  Because WE are His compassion.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hands Handled

John began his first epistle with 'what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled concerning the Word of Life--'  He writes this because the Gnostic's are telling people that Jesus was not flesh but only a spirit come in phantom form.  John knew Jesus was the word made flesh and come to dwell among us.  So rather than get into a great debate on the merits of Christs flesh, he writes about how he handled the flesh of Christ. John was the only disciple who remained at the foot of the cross. He heard when Jesus cried; Father why have you forsaken me, he saw them drop the body onto the ground watching as the blood seeped back into the earth from which it was formed; he beheld the storm filled heavens and the earth quake as Jesus surrendered his spirit.  Finally, John's hands handled the lifeless body as Mary cleansed and lovingly wrapped her son in a burial shroud. The Word of Life was dead, the flesh no longer dwelled among them, but did that mean there was nothing left to handle?

As Jesus discipled He prepared John for when He'd be gone by teaching him to handle healing the sick, cast out demons, feed the poor and much more.  In the years following the resurrection John comes to know the value of what he handled.  He's writes about the Word made flesh and dwells among us, to quell the Gnostic's lie that Jesus had not come in the flesh. That's why it becomes so important for him to make sure we know the Word of life based on what we hear, see, behold and handle.  So like John I want to write that I have heard "I will never leave nor forsake you", I have seen with my eyes, "good works that declare God's Glory"; I have beheld the wonder of creation in the laugh of a child and the brilliance of a sunrise; and my hands have handled the body of a broken and contrite soul sobbing out to God who was transformed into one singing joyfully unto the Lord; all because, amazingly, the Word of Life trusts my hands to handle what I see, hear and behold.