- Sermon Notes
Story: Boston Red Sox fans?
I’ve been around a lot of professional athletes in my college playing days and in my previous corporate life – and only a few demonstrate this type of compassion and unselfish care for those suffering.
The story of the prodigal son’s older brother. Most lessons are on the Prodigal Son, but today lets explore his older brother – Jesus has a very important lesson for us on com-passion.
3 stories; God cares about people, deeply, tenderly, compas-sionately. The 3rd about the Prodigal or the wasteful Son – We all know this story.
Younger goes off and wastes his father’s wealth & inher-itance…
Father hugs him and welcomes him home and restores him and throws a big party with the neighbors and relatives to welcome him home.
Who do these folks represent?
• Prodigal son – tax collectors and sinners in vs 1
• Father – God who always greets repenting sinners with His arms and heart wide open.
• He could have ended this story right here.
• So enter character # 3 the prodigal’s older brother
I. Jesus Seeks Our Heart
Older brother right where you’d expect him to be – working – doing his father’s farming, he hears celebration.
Vs 26: he calls one of the servants – what is going on?! Your brother has returned…
Brother becomes angry – refuses to go in and celebrate the return of his brother who squandered all of this and the fam-ily name…
Vs 28: Father pleaded with him – look – all these years…I’ve been slaving for you, no disobedience…
Notice when he says, this son of “yours”…emotion – can we see this – what the older brother needed was not a change of clothes – but inside something was wrong – he needed a change of heart…
If this prodigal son represents the sinners and if this father represents God in the story – then this older brother repre-sents the Rabbis who grumbled and complained.
A. Celebrate sinners coming home
Vs 31 – my son….you are always with me – it is right we cel-ebrate and rejoice.
What is he saying, ‘look son, I’ve been good to you, I love you…I love your brother too, this is right…he was dead and now he’s back’…pleads gently to join them…son, please have pity on your younger brother.’
Don’t you just love how this story ends – abruptly – Jesus ends the story – what a cliffhanger this is – don’t you just want to know more? What will he do?
Why didn’t he tell us more – the people who were going to write this story are standing right there – those present were like the older brother – the Rabbis. As if Jesus standing there pleading with those Rabbi’s – how sad, so few make that change of heart.
B. Jesus’ compassion
• The older brother looked great on the outside, law abiding, loyal, obedient – but on the inside – some-thing terribly missing.
• Compassion – to suffer along with someone – another definition – the ability to identify with another per-son’s needs and react in a caring way.
New Testament over and over we find – “and Jesus had compassion on him/her/them” – the Bible says our God is a God of intense compassion for others…
I Peter 5:7; casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
II. Like Jesus, Clothe Yourself With Compassion
The Bible doesn’t stop by telling us God is a God of deep compassion –
• as Followers He wants us to be the same as He is –
• He wants us to ask people how they are doing and be pre-pared to listen and care with compassion how they really are doing!
Colossians 3:12; So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Ephesians 4:32; Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Proverbs 31:8; Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all the unfortunate.
A. Embrace Jesus developing our compassion
• This is why Cory Ten-boom hid jewish people from the Nazis
• Mother Teresa gave her life for poor children in India.
• Why our church donates thousands to missions and needs around our community and the world.
• This is why we here at Calvary have a benevolence fund to help the poor & those who need a break as they work to help themselves.
• Countless special opportunities for you to partner with us throughout the year to meet the needs of others…
When people claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, it is clear in the Bible that God calls on us to be people of compassion, helpers of the helpless, defend the weak, friend of those in need and to do all of this for His glory so that He gets the credit, not so Calvary or any of us can pat ourselves on the back!
Some of you will say, “I’m not a real compassionate person, I tend to worry about my own stuff – if God wants me to be this way, how do I get there?
The bible gives us an answer…
2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
He is telling us that the way he produces compassion for others is to send us troubles, even suffering at times.
• We’ve all experienced some amount of suffering or pain – because I believe suffering burns out shallowness –
• Teaching us how to connect with people in pain – how to connect with those who are needy –
• Suffering teaches us compassion –
No bible study or seminar or sermon can teach us –
God uses suffering to remove from us a heart of stone or its another way to give us a heart of flesh.
B. God molds us into His image
ILLUSTRATION: 2002 – President George W. Bush ap-pointed a Commission on Intellectual Disability. How did God transform Gene Stallings from an intolerant hard-nosed perfectionist – into soft compassionate man of grace – He gave him a special needs son; Johnny.
• “I became a better person as a result of that child.”
Some of us watching online or here today are suffering, per-haps in pain…
• or I promise you if you are not, you are likely to be in the future because that’s how life works.
Romans 8:18; For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
God is not a Genie in the bottle – because God has a higher goal in life – to transform us into deep deep men/women of God on this earth.
Some things like true Compassion for others – you and I could never reach without the doorway of trials & suffering – that’s just the way it is…
That’s how it was for Abraham – Moses – Ruth – Esther & the Apostle Paul
C. The blessing of suffering
Sometimes we hurt, sometimes we suffer, sometimes we are in deep water – sometimes it’s the people closest to us and we literally feel their pain.
• that’s when he teaches us deep truths about Himself – how to be men/women of God.
Romans 5:3-5; More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Remember God’s grace will be sufficient for you…God knows exactly what he’s doing in our lives –
Isaiah 49:13; Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains!
For the Lord has comforted His people
And will have compassion on His afflicted.
Luke 15:25-32 NASB
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. 29 But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never [a]neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your [b]wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you [c]have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’”