Compassion or Compromise
In Mark chapter 8 we read Jesus saying: “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their own houses they will faint on the way; for some of them have come from afar.” (Mk 8:2,3)
The word compassion means: “to suffer alongside with someone.” Jesus’ compassion for people was evidenced by the time He spent with them and the way He ministered to them in love. Jesus wanted His disciples to catch His strategy of ministry so that when He left His disciples would follow in His footsteps by the power of the Spirit. He even told them,“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” (Jn 14:12)
By all means Satan did not want this plan to succeed. He was working overtime to lure the disciples into the lifestyle of compromise and hypocrisy which best described their enemies, the Pharisees. Jesus said: “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” (Mt 23:4) The Pharisees words were hard and their actions were harsh. Jesus on the other hand spoke with grace and authority. “For He taught with real authority, quite unlike their teachers of religious law.” (Mt 7:29) “So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.” (Lk 4:22)
Jesus was looking to transform rugged fishermen into compassionate lovers.
Jesus didn’t have a plan B when it came to His disciples continuing the work He started. It was of utmost importance that they not turn out to be like the priest and the Levite who passed by the man beat up on the side of the road to Jericho. Jesus was looking to transform rugged fishermen into compassionate lovers.
After Jesus included them in His act of compassion, having them help distribute food to the four thousand, He and His disciples crossed the sea. But as soon as they got out of the boat the Pharisees tested them, demanding a special sign from heaven.
He used this testing to teach His disciples a valuable lesson. The Bible says: “Then He charged them, saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’” (Mk 8:15) We know leaven is a picture of sin, pride, and false doctrine. Jesus desperately wanted His disciples to be careful to not allow even the smallest amount of sin to have any place in their hearts, because “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (Ga 5:9)
The pride and sin of the Pharisees and Herod caused them to idealize the Kingdom of God for its power and authority. This was completely opposite of what Jesus came to emphasize. Remember, it was compassion motivated by love that fed the multitudes and prompted the Samaritan to stop along the road.
Lately I’ve been personally challenged in choosing compassion or compromise. As I’ve been reading through Mark, it’s been amazing how easily I find myself criticizing the disciples. Some times I catch myself thinking: “how could they ever miss that?” But I miss it all the time.
Jesus was desperately trying to get this very important message across to His disciples: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” but they were busy worrying about their last loaf of bread they had.
How could they forget His miraculous provision in feeding four thousand just a few verses before? The disciples were just as blind as the Pharisees were. “Won’t you ever learn or understand? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear? Don’t you remember anything at all? Why are you so worried about having no food?” (Mk 8:17,18)
‘Have I forgotten His faithfulness to the point I worry?’
But the real question is: ‘why am I so worried?’ ‘What am I worried about that has blinded my eyes and shut up my ears to the warnings and voice of God?’ ‘Have I forgotten His faithfulness to the point I worry?’ “May I never forget the good things He does for me.” (Ps 103:2)
In the days we are living in, I don’t want to miss out on what the Lord is saying to His church, and to me personally. I am realizing more and more that I cannot afford to worry because it is directly linked to hearing the Lord speak. My walk with the Lord depends on me hearing what the Spirit is saying and I can’t allow something like a lack of bread supply, or anything else for that matter, drown out the voice of the Lord. I want to be right in step with the Spirits leading and guiding.
He wants to talk to us. He wants to talk to me! I can be honest with you and share that recently His message for me has been twofold: ‘beware’ and ‘repent.’ As I was reading and re-reading this passage in Mark 8, His warning to the disciples began to be as relevant to me today as it was to them. “Danny, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” Like the disciples, I run the risk of becoming like the Pharisees who were blind to their own pride. They wouldn’t lift a finger to help anyone in need. I too risk becoming the hypocrite who doesn’t show compassion and love by “Loving my neighbor as myself.”
I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit by missing out on His message to repent.
It’s in that moment, like the disciples in the boat being rebuked, that I have a choice to make: Repent or jump ship. I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit by missing out on His message to repent. When it’s time, I want to repent and move forward, “forgetting that which is behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” (Ph 3:13)
I want to have ears to hear and eyes to see like Ezekiel who heard the Lord say: ‘when you see the sword coming upon the land, blow the trumpet and warn the people.’ (Ez 33:3) We are living in the last days, and like never before we need to be walking in understanding, vision, remembrance, and in hearing our Good Shepherd’s voice. Help us Lord “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ep 5:15,16)