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A Compassionate Heart!

Text: Luke 10:30-37 (King James Version)

"And Jesus answering said, ’A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. (v. 31) And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. (v. 32) And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. (v. 33) But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him. (v. 34) And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (v. 35) And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host and said unto him, ’Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I return again, I will repay thee.’ (v. 36) Which now of these thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves? (v. 37) And he said, ’He that showed mercy on him.’ Then said Jesus unto him, ’Go and do thou likewise."

Topic: A Compassionate Heart!

In 1975, a child named Raymond Dunn, Jr., was born in the state of New York. The Associated Press (AP) reported that at his birth, a skull fracture and oxygen deprivation caused severe retardation. As the child grew up, the family discovered that he had other impairments. His twisted body suffered up to 20 seizures per day - He was blind, he was mute, and he was immobile. And if that wasn’t enough, he had severe allergies that limited him to only one food - a meat-based formula produced by Gerber Foods.

In 1985, Gerber Foods ceased production of the formula that Raymond Dunn, Jr., depended on to survive. His mother scoured the country, buying up all the formula that stores had in stock - accumulating cases and cases of the product; however, in 1990, her supply ran out - without this particular food, Raymond Dunn, Jr., would starve to death. In desperation, his mother appealed to Gerber Foods for help. The employees of the company listened; and, in an unprecedented action, volunteers donated hundreds of hours to bring out old equipment, set up production lines - with permission from the Food and Drug Administration - and produced the formula - all for one special boy!

In January 1995, Raymond Dunn, Jr., known as the "Gerber Boy," died from his physical problems. However, during his lifetime, he called forth a wonderful thing called compassion. Jesus, the Chist, in our Holy Scripture text, for today, was talking to a religious scholar who asked Him the question, "Who is my neighbour?" What he meant was, "Who should I love?" or "Who should I have compassion for?" Jesus responded with the "Parable of the Good Samaritan."

In considering this parable, we need to understand that this story is simply used as an example of the need for compassion. The situations that we find ourselves in - the ones that require our compassion - will more than likely be much different than the one described by Jesus, the Christ! The real issue here is this: "How will we respond when compassion is called for?"

There are only three (3) options available to us; and, they all deal with attitudes: (1) I don’t care! (2) I don’t care enough! and, (3) I care enough to help! The priest represents the "I Don’t Care Attitude!" The Levite represents the "I Don’t Care Enough Attitude!" And, the Samaritan represents the "I Care Enough To Help Attitude!"

In the case of the priest, he was walking toward this injured individual; but, he never even got close enough to find out what his situation was - was he dead, was he hurting, or was he just taking a nap? Once he spotted the individual lying on the side of the road, he didn’t even go up to take a look, he simply walked over to the other side, and kept on walking. This is the very attitude that is expressed by many individuals, today, when they see someone in need!

"Let’s just pretend that we didn’t see the individual - he or she is not really there - he or she does not really exist - and, maybe, we won’t have to deal with their problem." While there are people all around us in need of our help, our counsel, our Christian witness; or, simply a word of encouragement, we tend to close our eyes to the needs of the world around us and go into what may be called the "Christian isolation mode!" If you are hearing me, this morning, and you cannot think of even one individual that you have come across in the last month or so who needed your help - more than likely, you would fall into this category!

In the case of the Levite - the Temple Assistant - he was a "real prize" as well! Unlike the priest, the Levite notices the individual lying on the side of the road, walks up to him and looks him over; and, then, he goes on to the other side and continues on his journey. I guess even if you are not going to help, it doesn’t hurt to stare at the poor people in need for a while first - just to see how bad off they really are! This Levite cared enough to see the individual in need; but, then decided not to do anything about it. I’m not sure which of these first two (2) persons is the worst?

Tell me, "Don’t we see people who need to know Jesus, the Christ, and pass them by on a regular basis? Don’t we see people everyday that are hurting from emotional problems, or physical problems, or living with the result of "bad choices" that they have made, and pass them by everyday?" It is so easy to care enough to look; but, then do nothing about it! The Disciple/Apostle James, the half-brother of Jesus, the Christ, in James 2:15-16 (NLT), tells us: "Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, (v. 16) and you say, ’Well, good-bye and God bless you, stay warm and eat well’ - but, then you don’t give that person any food or clothing - what good does that do?" The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t do any good at all!

Finally, in the case of the "Good Samaritan," I doubt that anyone listening to Jesus, the Christ, expected Him to bring a Samaritan into the story - much less make him the hero of the hour! Here, we find Jesus, the Christ, dealing with the "race card" at the same time as compassion. Up until this point, Jesus, the Christ, had mentioned a priest and a Levite, who didn’t even stop to help the injured individual. More than likely, everyone expected Him to mention a Jewish lay person - you know, to give the story a kind of "anti-clergy" twist. Instead, Jesus, the Christ, introduces a Samaritan into the equation - an individual who is despised by the Jewish people with a fervor that is hard for many to imagine - but, not too hard, for people of color to imagine. Likewise, the Samaritans hated the Jewish people with an equal level of contempt!"

So, here we have Jesus, the Christ, saying that we have a Jewish individual that is robbed and beaten lying on the side of the road hurting - The Jewish priest passes by - the Jewish Levite looks and passes by; but, this Samaritan man who is an enemy of the man lying on the side of the road, turns out to be the only one with enough compassion to help this man in need. Sadly, that seems to be the situation with the Christian community today - the sinner is more likely to assist someone in need than the Christian "true believer." There is a lot of irony here; however, the point that is made is this: the person that we would least expect to show compassion is the very one who does - in other words, compassion is shown not because we are the most religious; nor is it shown because the person in need is just like us; but, it is shown because we have a heart like the heart of Jesus, the Christ! We have a "Mary heart in a Martha world!"

In Matthew 14:14 (NLT), the Disciple/Apostle Matthew, tells us: "A vast crowd was there as He stepped from the boat, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick." Jesus, the Christ, had just been informed of the beheading of his cousin, John the Baptist, and had gone off by Himself in a boat to a remote area to be alone. However, the crowds learned of his destination and they followed him on land and met him when his boat reached the shore.

The Apostle Paul, in addressing the church at Philippi, in Philippians 1:8 (NLT), tells them and us: "God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus." So, tell me, preacher, "What will it take for us to have hearts of compassion like Christ and the Samaritan?"

Well, first of all, we need a heartfelt expression of sympathy! In verse 33, of our Holy Scripture text, for today, reading from the New Living Translation (NLT), we find these words: "...and when he saw the man, he felt deep pity." There wasn’t any hesitation on the part of the Samaritan - somehow he had developed his heart in a way that the Jewish priest and Jewish Levite had not! He didn’t stop to wonder about what others might think; or, about the time he would have to spend; he simply did what had to be done = he went instantly into the "sympathy mode!"

We cannot force ourselves to have a heart of compassion - it comes with time as we fellowship and have relationship with Jesus, the Christ. The more we know Him, the softer our hearts become and the more likely we are to instantly begin to feel the way that the Samaritan felt!

Secondly, we need a willingness to offer healing! The Samaritan understood the truth of that old saying, "If you’re gonna talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk." There needs to come a point in our display of compassion where we are willing to do whatever is necessary to bring healing to the minds, bodies, and souls of the people we are ministering to - no matter how unpleasant it might sometimes seem! We are not fulfilling the call for compassion until we are willing to do whatever it takes to help the person in need!

Thirdly, we need a desire to pay the cost! Not everyone has a desire to pay the cost, do they? The Samaritan was willing to pay the cost financially. However, the main point is not the money, the main point is that he was willing to risk his reputstion by helping a Jewish individual - he was willing to take the time necessary to help - he was willing to inconvenience himself - to step out of his "Comfort Zone" - he was willing to put this man’s needs ahead of his own!

In conclusion, while I don’t believe that Jesus, the Christ, was referring to Himself in this parable, it is very easy to draw some parallels, isn’t it? Jesus, the Christ, had compassion for the human race, even though we had wronged Him and turned our backs on Him! Jesus, the Christ, was willing to offer Himself in order to heal us from our sin and diseases! Jesus, the Christ, had the desire to pay the ultimate cost and he took action on that desire when he went to the Cross at Calvary and died in our place!

As I take my seat, Jesus, the Christ, asked the religious scholar, in effect, "Which one was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?" When the scholar replied correctly - "the one who showed him mercy" - Jesus, the Christ, said, "Yes, now go and do the same." In the words of Laura Schlessinger, also known as "Dr. Laura," - "Now go do the right thing!"

A Compassionate Heart!

May Almighty God richly and abundantly bless each and every one of you!

This sermon leans heavily on a sermon written by Rev. Dr. Barry L. Davis, entitled, "Showing Christ-like Compassion," found at, and used by permission.

Other sources:

1. "The King James Study Bible," Reference Edition, edited by C.I. Scofield, published, Uhrichsville, Ohio, ISBN 1-55748-745-6, p. 1981.
2. "The Open Bible," New Living Translation, c1998 Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., pp. 1264, 1578 and 1657.

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