Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1
Thesis: Our problem with "selective" compassion is our focus on the unimportant.
Introduction: Today we have come again to August 3 as a Sunday. August 3 fell on Sunday five years ago, and it will fall upon Sunday again in six years. Five years ago we opened our Bibles to Luke 1:1. This morning we open them to Luke 7:11. This means that in five years we have moved through the records of Luke's presentation of Jesus of Nazareth from the preliminary considerations concerning Luke's interest in Theophilus to Luke's insistence that only the faith of the centurion of Capernaum will be able to sustain the weight of our conflict with Evil in this world.
One could say that we have simply multiplied words for five years -- heaping up words upon words on top of Luke's words. And, when we step back to look at the bigger picture, we have to wonder about why heaping up words on top of words seems to be important. On the face of it, Luke's record is about the trustworthiness of Jesus and how crucial it is that we enter into a life of trust with Him. Also on the face of it, it should go without saying that if it can be established in any one place that Jesus is trustworthy, all of the other words about His trustworthiness are simply redundant.
But we live in a world where should seldom is. What clearly ought to be is not and what clearly ought not to be, is. And, the approach God has taken to this reality is "words upon words". Note in Isaiah 28, where the should has been turned completely upside down into the should not, what God does: He uses the multiplication of words to do two things; 28:9 -- to teach knowledge, and 28:13 -- to drive men into their own disaster.
So as we launch out into our sixth year of the study of the Word of God, we do so with a clear-eyed understanding that it will enormously help those who are interested in what ought to be and it will dull those even more who could care less about what ought to be.
In the face of these facts, one of the most crucial issues that we face is the challenge to keep on believing. So, this morning we are going to look at Luke's record once again.
August 3, 2008
- I. Luke's Picture of Jesus' "Compassion".
- A. The details of the record.
- 1. The "next"...
- a. The AV says "...it came to pass the day after...".
- b. The NASB says "...it came about soon afterwards...".
- c. Luke's point is neither: his point is that the "next" issue was revealed at the gates of Nain.
- 1) Nain was 25 miles southwest of Capernaum: it might have been "the next day", but that is not likely.
- 2) And "soon afterwards" does not mean a whole lot.
- 3) But, if Luke is building a case, "the next" is significantly important.
- 2. A city called "Nain".
- a. One wonders about Luke's inclusion of this name.
- 1) No one else in the New Testament referred to it.
- 2) It derives from a Hebrew word that had significant "shepherd" overtones and was used to describe a place that a "shepherd" would have found to be all, and more than, he sought as a shepherd.
- 3) It may well have been Jesus' choice of "setting" because the funeral was the absolute opposite of everyone's view of what they were seeking.
- a) Living behind the walls would typically block the view; not being a shepherd would degrade the impact of the view.
- b) Coming out of the gates would reveal that view if one's attention was not upon a funeral bier.
- b. Without dispute, the events at "Nain" raise the bar for all thoughtful learners.
- 1) Luke deliberately refers to Jesus' visceral reaction to the funeral.
- 2) The reference raises all kinds of "issues" for men regarding the absence of any detectable compassion in a vast host of events.
- 3. The large number of witnesses.
- a. Disciples and "a large multitude" went with Jesus from Capernaum to Nain.
- b. A "sizable crowd" was sympathetic to the widow's loss.
- 1) She was a widow.
- 2) She had had an "only son" -- the very words used in John 3:16.
- B. The reality of the "compassion".
- 1. Given the fact that every day that goes by contains terrible events in the lives of people, it is not amazing that people stumble over Luke's claim.
- a. How can Luke say that Jesus "felt compassion" for the widow in the light of all of the multitudes whose circumstances are at least as bad and there is no apparent response by God?
- b. Even if we credit Luke's words -- and see Jesus as having compassion -- we still have the same problem.
- 2. However, we must "give" another set of facts.
- a. The truth about compassion.
- 1) Senseless, destructive reactions to the difficulties that people face may well look like compassion at first blush, but the proof of the wisdom is in the longer term realities.
- 2) "Compassion" that does not address the real problems is not compassion.
- a) There are problems and there are problems.
- b) The vast majority of the lesser problems are simply extensions of the fact that the "problem" has remained unresolved.
- c) Jesus is not, and never has been, "into" dealing with "symptoms".
- i. There are occasions when Jesus will deal with a symptom; but He does it as a means to His end: addressing the real problem.
- ii. There are multitudes of occasions when Jesus refuses to deal with the symptoms because the afflicted have already shown their absolute refusal to permit Him to deal with their real issues.
- b. The truth about those who complain about its absence.
- 1) The complainers are invariably committed to superficial "solutions" that are not solutions.
- 2) The complainers are invariably committed to refusing to allow Jesus to deal with their real issues.
- 3) It has never been true that the person who is willing to permit Jesus to address his/her most fundamental twistedness has found Him to be less than compassionate.