Sermon Text: Mark 6:53-56
Sermon Purpose: “Does our church’s reputation speak Christ’s compassion to others?”
Sermon Title: “Have Compassion”
I’m gonna tell y’all a little story. When I was in middle school my family was a Boy Scout family – not a church going family. A friend of mine from school invited me to come to a youth event at her church. It was a little bitty United Methodist Church out in the country. My parents would drop me off for youth events on Sunday evenings. Then the youth leaders asked us to start coming to worship so the older people in the congregation wouldn’t kill the youth program. So my parents started dropping me off for worship on Sunday mornings. Please note at this point I attended worship, I did not worship. I passed notes in the back pew with my friends. It wasn’t until we had a fire in our home and the church people reached out to me and my family that I began to explore what this thing called faith in Jesus Christ was really all about. My Mom started coming to church with me. My brother started coming to church. My brother was baptized into that little United Methodist Church and my Mother joined the church. At that time they were known as Richard’s Mom and brother. When I left home for college I would return home on a random weekend and discover things had changed. I was now Joy’s boy. It’s a funny thing how our reputation precedes us. Sometimes a reputation can be a good thing. Sometimes a reputation can get us into trouble even before we open our mouths. This morning’s passage is all about the people’s response to Jesus’ reputation.
In this morning’s passage Mark is telling the reader how the people are responding to what Jesus is doing. In Mark chapters five and six Jesus is not doing a lot of teaching. Instead Jesus is doing a lot of healing and working miracles. In Mark chapter five Jesus heals a man who is possessed by a legion of demons. Jesus heals a woman who is unclean because she has had a flow of blood for twelve years. Jesus raises the daughter of the leader of a synagogue from the dead. In Mark chapter six Jesus heals a few people in the synagogue of his home town of Nazareth. Jesus sends out the disciples to spread the good news the Kingdom of God is at hand. The people should turn back to God and believe. When the disciples return crowds follow them and suddenly there are 5000 people looking to Jesus to hear His preaching and teaching. Jesus has compassion on them (Mark 6:34). Then with two fish and five loaves Jesus feeds the 5000 men plus women and children. Afterward, Jesus is tired and sends the disciples on across the Sea of Galilee to Bethsaida while Jesus takes some time to pray and rest. Jesus then heads out, walking across the sea to meet the disciples at Bethsaida. The disciples see Jesus and are amazed and invite Jesus into the boat. Jesus does and then they make landfall at Gennesaret which is the start of this morning’s passage.
Now Church; after hearing the summary of the things Jesus did according to Mark chapters five and six would you say Jesus has a good reputation among the people? (pause for answers) Is Jesus well liked? (pause for answers) Who will sum up in a few words why Jesus is so well liked? (pause for answers) So in this passage Jesus is well liked because of what Jesus does for other people. Is Jesus well liked for just what Jesus does just for Jesus’ disciples? (pause for answers) So Jesus is well liked because of what Jesus does for everybody. What is it Jesus does for people that gives Jesus this good reputation? (pause for answers) With a reputation like that is it any wonder the people come from miles around to see Jesus? Is it any wonder people come from miles around to bring their sick with the hope their sick might be healed?
There are ministries within our community with a similar reputation. I think we are all familiar with the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. A ministry we may not be as familiar with is Open Hands of Davidson County.
Open Hands has this reputation for helping folks who have fallen down on their luck. Open Hands does not have money for light bills and utility bills, but Open Hands does have a food pantry. Open Hands provides a safe place on Monday nights for folks to come get a meal, hear some good music, and receive the Word of God preached to them. Twice a month the Big MAC mobile clothes closet is there. As you might imagine during the winter time Big MAC is really popular. People come from miles around. Some walk to Open Hands. Some get rides. Some are picked up by vans from churches with which Open Hands has partnerships. After all, we are a connectional denomination. The people come from all over because of the reputation Open Hands has for offering compassion and assistance.
Now as the Church we are called the Hands and Feet of Christ. Jesus is not here in a physical body. Instead, Jesus works through the hands, feet and hearts of the body of Christ. Jesus aint here. We are the only hands and feet Jesus has in this world, and Jesus is relying on us. But it begs the question. What are we known for? At Cotton Grove we’re known for poor mans suppers, chicken pie sales and yard sales. That’s not a bad thing. That’s not a bad reputation to have. Cotton Grove is the little church that cooks. At Wesley Heights we are becoming known for block parties, a small youth program, and we are soon to be known for a corn hold tournament and maybe even a barbeque chicken sale. But the question is, is it enough? If Jesus is the gold standard how does our reputation match up with Jesus’ reputation? This morning we have talked about Jesus as a healer. Jesus is someone who was compassionate – not just to his friends, but to people outside of the Jewish people’s comfort zone. In this morning’s passage we have focused primarily on Jesus’ actions, but certainly Jesus’ teaching comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. And still the question remains, how does our reputation match up to Jesus’ reputation? Church, is it enough to be the little church that cooks, or the church that has fun fundraisers? Well church. What do you think? Is our reputation good enough? As the church, the hands and feet of Christ what reputation would you like for our church to have? What do you want people to know about our church?
There is a joke about a couple coming to visit their daughter’s church. Their grand daughter is being baptized, and they are a little lost. They are having a hard time finding the church. So they pull into a gas station and ask for directions to “Christ’s Church” in town. The gas station attendant leans forward and rests a hand on the car window sill. “Well straight ahead is the Church of God, but that aint Christ’s church. It’s really the McCoy’s church. If you take the second right up here and go half a mile you’ll see the Baptist church, but the Hatfields run it. Ya know… Come to think of it… I don’t know where Christ’s Church is here in town.”
Church, What reputation do you think our church ought to have? Common now, what reputation do you think we ought to have? (pause for answers) Then let’s have some honest yes or no answers to these questions. Do we want to be a church that’s known for feuding and complaining? no Do we want to be a church known for bullies who are always trying to push people around? no Is it enough for our church to be known as the little church that cooks, or the church that has fun fundraisers? no Are we ready to let Christ be our reputation? yes Are we ready to look for ways to offer compassion to those who are as different from us as they can be? yes Are we ready to be Christ’s hands and feet offering food to the poor and working poor through the Feeding of the 500 program? yes Are we ready to be the invitational church who walks up to people at McDonalds, or Cracker Barrel and shares with them what a good thing we have going here? yes Are we ready to share with folks at the Post Office, or Lowes or Cagneys what Christ has done in our lives? yes Well, if that’s the way you feel I aint gonna hang you up here running my mouth any longer. Instead I’m gonna leave y’all with this. Christ’s reputation grew because of the compassion Jesus had for other people. Innovative preaching certainly helped, but it was Jesus’ compassion for others and the healing Jesus’ compassion brought which touched people’s lives and helped them to hear Jesus’ message. Church, Do we have a reputation for having compassion in Jesus Christ? Maybe. I gotta tell ya. That’s the kind of church I’d want to be part of.
In the name of Jesus Christ – Amen.