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THE SAVIOR WHO CARES
Intro: Often, people have a faulty impression of just Who God is. Some people see God as being so high and holy that He has no time for people like you and me. Others see Him as resembling a doting old grandfather Who winks at sin and just kind of watches His creation with amusement to see what will happen next.
Well, God is a high and holy God! He is “separate from sinners. He is untouched by our wickedness and cannot look upon our sins. He certainly does not wink at our sins and sit back as the universe does its own thing. He is a God Who is in control of all things at all times. But, like a doting grandfather, He is a God Who cares.
It may surprise some to think about God being a caring God. He is often portrayed as a God of wrath and judgment. That is one side of His character. However, He is also a God of love, compassion and intimacy. He is a God Who cares.
One reason He cares is because He knows what we face in life. He knows this because He came to this world and lived among us for a time. God Almighty actually robed Himself in human flesh so that He might live among men and die on a cross for sinners, Phil. 2:5-8; John 1:1; 14.
While He was here, He endured more than His share of pain, poverty and suffering. He knows what it is like to do without, Matt. 8:20. He knows what it is like to be rejected, John 1:11. He knows what it is like to be hated. He knows what it is like to suffer pain. He knows what it is like to be hungry, thirsty and alone. He knows what it is like to die. Jesus walked through this world and experienced what He did so that He might better help you in your time of need, Heb. 4:15.
As we continue our study of Mark’s Gospel today, we are confronted with a truly wonderful portion of Scripture. These verses tell us without a doubt that Jesus cares about us. I want to point out two groups of people for whom the Lord cares. I want to preach on The Savior Who Cares. As I do, let Him teach you that He cares about you today.
I. v. 30-32 HE CARES ABOUT
A. v. 30 Their Activity The events of verse 30 take place right after the events of verse 13. Jesus sent the twelve disciples out to preach, teach and heal. Their ministry had been an unqualified success and they return to the Lord and tell Him all about their ministry in the surrounding villages.
They are excited about all they have witnessed and about the doctrine they have been teaching. I can imagine them gathering around Him while they all try to talk at once. It was an exciting time in the lives of these men.
(Ill. There really is no greater thrill in life than to serve the Lord when He is blessing that service. When you stop to consider where you came from and how He saved your soul. Then, to think that He would allow you a small part in His kingdom work, is a blessing too great to comprehend.
Yet, the Bible is clear; the Lord saved us to serve Him. He purposely redeemed us so that we might serve Him in this world, Eph. 2:10. When He saved us, He equipped us for a special place in His kingdom work, 1 Cor. 12:6-26. Our service to the Lord proves the reality of our salvation experience, James 2:18; 1 John 1:7.
It is a wonderful thing to be busy for the Lord! To be allowed to serve Him is a blessing. And, there are no small tasks in His kingdom, Ill. David’s attitude – Psa. 84:10. What are you doing for Jesus right now?)
(Ill. Some people say they can’t serve the Lord because they don’t have any training. Look at the disciples! They were sent out with very little training and limited knowledge of the things of God. Don’t wait until you know it all to do something for the Lord. Act on what you know and trust the Lord to teach you as you go.)
B. v. 31-32 His Advice When Jesus hears their report and sees their enthusiasm, He gives them some strange advice. A lot of people would have suggested that it was time to seize the moment. The people were listening, the crowds were coming. It seemed like the perfect time to send the disciples out again to go and preach and heal and increase the crowds. Jesus, on the other hand, calls the disciples away for a time of rest and refreshment.
I think there are several reasons why the Lord did this with His men. I think these reasons are still valid today. Let me share them with you.
· The physical stress of ministry is enormous When the disciples returned to Jesus, they found Him surrounded by crowds of needy people. The people were coming and going at such a frenzied rate that Jesus and His men did not even have time to eat a meal. That kind of constant stress would wear anyone out.
Jesus knew that His men needed to rest their bodies if they were going to be as effective as they could be in their work for Him. So, He takes them across the lake so that they could be reenergized.
There is a word here for the modern Christian as well. God did not design these bodies to go like we force them to. He never intended for us to run through this world with a cell phone to our ear, a day planner in our hand and a schedule so full of activity that no one could possibly get it all done. God expects us to take the time our bodies need to rest.
Our days, months and years have all been discovered through observation. One revolution of the earth was observed called a day. One lunar cycle was observed and called a month. One revolution of the earth around the sun was observed and called a year. But, have you ever considered that the seven day week was not man’s observation? The seven day week was God’s idea, Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:9-10. God decreed that man should work six days and rest one day. The seventh day of rest is a gift of grace! God knows our bodies are not designed to function all the time without rest. He set aside one day in the week when we are to abstain from physical labor and just rest. You need to rest!
Someone has said that 45 minutes of hard preaching is equivalent in mental and physical stress to working eight hours. I will be more effective on Sunday if I get the rest I need on Saturday night. I will be more alert and more able to serve the Lord effectively. From the looks of things, it wouldn’t hurt some of you to go to bed a little earlier either!
God wants us to serve Him, but He does not want us to kill ourselves in the process! We must take the time our bodies need to rest. Someone has penned a poem that goes like this:
Mary had a little lamb.
Twas given to her to keep,
But then it joined the local church,
And died for lack of sleep.
· The disciples were in danger of being lifted up in spiritual pride If these men had been sent right back out and they had seen the same or greater results, there was a danger that they might begin to think that they were something special. The truth was, they did nothing! They were successful in the sense that Jesus was successful through them. All they did was go out in His power and He did the work. It wasnt about them, it was all about Him! So, Jesus removed them from the limelight for a little while to help them keep things in the proper perspective.
Again, there is a word here for us today. We must never come to the place where think this thing is about us. Preachers, when you preach that great message, give Him the glory! Teachers, when things go well in your class, give Him the glory! Choir members, when you are on pitch and the Lord blesses the singing, give Him the glory.
If we are not real careful, we can fall into the trap of thinking that we are something special. If we are not careful, we can become lifted up in pride and forget that anything good that comes from our lives comes from the hand of the Lord.
Let me remind you that the best we can produce is trash, Isa. 64:6. But, if we will yield to the Lord, He can use us in wonderful ways, Gal. 2:20. He is the source of our strength, Phil. 4:13. And, He deserves all the glory, Acts 17:28. When we begin to think that the success of our ministry is a result of our own strength and ability, we are headed for a fall, 1 Cor. 10:12; Pro. 16:18.
All I am saying is that we must remember where the blessings of service come from. It isn’t the preacher, the teacher or anyone else who wears a suit of flesh. Our blessings come from the Lord and He alone deserves all the glory.
II. v. 33-34 HE CARES ABOUT
(Ill. Jesus as His men make their escape from the crowds, but they did not slip away unnoticed. The people saw them leaving and recognized that the boat carried Jesus. The people ran around the shore of the lake and were waiting on Him when He arrived on the other side.
It was about 4 miles across the lake by boat. On a windless day, it would have taken quite some time to make that trip. It was about ten miles around the shore of the lake. Fast walkers would have made the trip a faster than the boat. This is just what happened that day. When Jesus and His men neared the shore, they saw that a large crowd was waiting to meet them. According to verse 44, this crowd may have numbered between 15,000 and 20,000 people!
Many people would have been angry if their plans for rest were interrupted by the crowds. Many people would have seen the crowds as an interruption and a nuisance. Some people would have just ignored the people and their needs. Not Jesus!
The Bible tells us that Jesus “was moved with compassion toward them. When you see a person with a need, there are several emotional responses you can have. Let me list them briefly.
· Apathy This word refers to an absence of emotion. You see the need, but you do not care. You are unmoved by it. There is a lot of apathy in our world today.
· Sympathy This word refers to a harmony of feeling. In other words, you see a need and you know how they feel because you have felt that way too.
· Empathy This word speaks of an emotion that is stronger that sympathy. When you empathize with someone it means that you hurt with them. It means that you share the pain they feel.
· Compassion The word compassion, as it is used in the Bible means, To be moved inwardly; to yearn with tender mercy, affection, pity and empathy. It refers to the deepest possible feelings. The phrase, moved with compassion means to be moved in the inner organs. It has the same idea as our modern expression, From the bottom of my heart.
Someone has defined compassion as “Sympathy coupled with a strong desire to help. Since sympathy refers to The capacity to share feelings, to enter into the same feelings, to feel the same thing. So, compassion is sharing the feelings of others and possessing a desire to help them in their trouble.
When Jesus saw the people He was touched by their need and He was moved by a strong desire to meet their need. Let’s consider the Lord’s compassion for these lost sheep.
A. v. 33-34a The Reasons For His Concern When Jesus looked at the people, He saw them as a flock of lost sheep. He was stirred by the vision of them as helpless lambs, with no one to care about them.
Oh, they had their religious leaders. But, those men did not care about the people. The Pharisees, the scribes and the Sadducees only cared about the people doing things their way. They wanted the people to march to their tune; obey their rules and keep lining their pockets, so they could continue to live their lavish lifestyles. This kind of leadership is soundly condemned by God in Eze. 34:1-10.
When the Jewish religious leaders looked at the people of Israel, all they saw was a people that existed to serve them. When Jesus saw the people of Israel, He saw them as they really were: lost sheep in need of a shepherd.
The image of lost people as sheep is powerful. As you may know, sheep are about the dumbest animals on the planet. They have no sense of direction. They are also absolutely defenseless. There is no animal as needy and as dependent on human as the sheep. When Jesus refers to lost people as sheep, He is not trying to insult them, He is merely telling the truth!
· Sheep without a shepherd cannot find their way Apart from the ministry of the Heavenly Shepherd, no lost person would ever find their way to God, Eph. 2:1-3. The lost are hopelessly lost and they need a Shepherd to come and rescue them. Thank God, that is just what He does, Ill. Luke 15:3-7.
· Sheep without a shepherd are absolutely defenseless Apart from the intervention of the Heavenly Shepherd, no lost person would ever be able to avoid the wrath of God and the fires of Hell. The lost are in terrible danger! (Ill. Hell Psa. 9:17; 2 Thes. 1:8-9. Ill. God’s awful wrath, John 3:18; 36, Heb. 10:31) Religious activity, good works, good intentions and being a good person will never be enough to keep you out of Hell. The only antidote for the poison of sin is the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. 1:18-19. He is your only hope and the only way of salvation, John 14:6. When a lost sheep comes to Him for salvation, they receive absolute security, 1 Pet. 1:5; John 10:28; John 6:37-40.
· Sheep without a shepherd are dumb Apart from the ministry of the Heavenly Shepherd, the lost person does not even know that he is lost. This truth must be revealed to them by the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, John 6:44; 16:7-11; Ill. Eph. 2:1.
B. v. 34a The Reach Of His Concern As I read this verse I get the sense that while Jesus saw the crowd, He also saw much more. Jesus saw a huge group of people, but He also saw the individuals in that crowd. As He looked out at that throng of people, He saw every broken heart, every physical ailment, every emotional need, every spiritual problem; He saw it all! He saw the crippled child. He saw that abused wife. He saw the depressed father. He saw the rebellious teenager. Jesus looked at a crowd, but He saw the individual!
That encourages me today! I praise the Lord that we serve a God Who knows all things, Heb. 4:13; Pro. 15:3. Our God sees everything that happens in this universe, but He still has the ability to focus in on the individual. Friend, He cares about you and about the needs in your life. You can come to Him and find the help you need regardless of the problem you face, 1 Pet. 5:7; Matt. 11:28-30.
(Ill. A quick survey of the Gospels reveals the boundless love and compassion of our Savior. He cares, Heb. 4:15-16!
· He Has Compassion For The Scattered Ones - Matt. 9:36; 15:32
· He Has Compassion For The Sinning Ones Ill. Matt. 18:23-35
· He Has Compassion For The Sick Ones - Mark 1:40-45
· He Has Compassion For The Suffering Ones - Luke 7:11-13
· He Has Compassion For The Seeking Ones - Mark 10:17-22
(Note: Why was Jesus able to have compassion on so many different kinds of people in so many different settings and situations? Because Jesus, even though He knew all their faults, did not let that get in the way of His compassion and expression of love!
He did not look just at that which was apparent on the surface, He was able to look at these people and see their deepest need! He loved them at the deepest level of His being; as a result, He was never impatient with them or offended by their needs.
Ill. How do we see people? We often base our evaluation of a person on what we see with our eyes or hear with our ears. (Ill. Some possible scenarios!)
What we need to learn is to look past a person’s exterior to see them as they really are. We must see their needs before we can express compassion to them! May we learn to see them as Jesus does! That is the essence of Phil. 2:4; Gal. 6:2; Matt. 22:39.)
C. v. 34b The Response Of His Concern These people came to Jesus for help and He did not drive them away. The Bible says and He began to teach them many things.” There, in that out of the way location, Jesus spread the spiritual banquet table with a feast of eternal truth. He led those lost sheep into the green pastures of His perfect, soothing, filling Word. He caused them to lie down beside the still waters of His wonderful revelation.
Jesus gathered up the lost sheep that day and pointed them to God. He surely told them of the true way of salvation. He surely told them of the love of God for the lost. He surely told them of the hope, life, peace and joy that were all available in Him. He wanted to help and He had the power to help them. So, He reached out and helped them!
(Ill. Do you remember the day the Good Shepherd found you wandering on the dark hills of sin? Do you remember when He lifted you out of your desperate condition, placed you on His shoulders and carried you to a place of peace, safety and blessing? Do you remember when He changed your life?
If you can, then you should rejoice in what He has done for you. If not, then you should come to Jesus and let Him change your life. He cares about you. He is able to help you. He will help you if you will come to Him by faith.
Conc: Where did this message find you today? Are you weary in the work of the Lord? Have you lost the joy of His salvation? Have the things of God become a drudgery to you? Are you just spiritually tired and worn out? Come to Jesus; let Him restore your soul. He knows how to put the spring back in your step. He knows how to give you joy once again. He cares about what you and what is happening in your life!
Are you a lost sheep today? Are you out there on the wild hills of sin, away from God and all alone? The Shepherd cares about you! If you will come to Him, He will take you into His fold and give you the peace, the joy and the security you need.