The Walk of Compassion
Sermon Summary: This message is based on the story of Jesus’ interaction with a man covered with leprosy. Jesus seemed to always be in the right place at the right time to meet those with tremendous needs! The reason for this was His intentional efforts to be out and among the people! Jesus showed great compassion to this man with His willingness to actually reach out and touch the man. Back in Jesus’ day lepers were social outcast and were not to be touched. However, Jesus wanted to heal the man from his leprosy as well as the emotional trauma that came with being an outcast. The leper asked Jesus if He was willing to heal him and Jesus said, “I am willing!” This message also points out the stark difference between the leper who knew he needed physical healing and the pharisees who were blinded to their spiritual sickness. The message for Christians today is the question of whether or not one is willing to be placed in a position to show compassion to those in desperate need of a touch from God!

Community Discussion Guide

1. Have you ever had an experience where someone’s compassion made difference in your life? How so?

2. Jesus intentionally placed Himself in places where people were in great need of compassion. Are you willing and available to let God place you in places and situations to show compassion? What scares you about this?
Phil 2:1  If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
Phil 2:2  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
Phil 2:3  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Phil 2:4  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Phil 2:5  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

3. Jesus actually touched the leper with His hand and through this simple act brought emotional healing to his man. While we may not be asked to touch the  physical wounds of an injured person, what are some ways we might be asked to bring a touch of God into someones life spiritually? Example: Building a relationship with someone who has a boatload of messy trouble in their life.
2 Cor 1:3  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
2 Cor 1:4  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

4. When the leper asked Jesus if He was willing to heal him, Jesus replied, “I am willing.” There are many people who feel as if Jesus would not have compassion on them because of their failures, shortcomings and sins. Why is this simply not true?
John 6:37  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
John 6:38  For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
John 6:39  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
John 6:40  For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

The Walk of Compassion

If we're going to walk the walk Jesus walked, compassion must be a major component of our lives! You might be tempted to say, compassion is not one of your strong traits. Maybe not, but start following Jesus and you'll find His compassion quite compelling.  

You may resist for a time, but at some point, you may have an ah-ha moment and realize if it were not for the compassion of Christ towards you, you'd be in a helpless and hopeless state of affairs. How can you then not have compassion on others?

Let's look at the definition of compassion...

Compassion -  sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

Let's look at the definition of pity...

Pity - the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others

These two words go together. Pity and compassion. You can't really have one without the other. Some translations of the Bible use the word compassion and some pity.

Our world is in desperate need of those who would walk the walk of compassion. Our text for today shows Jesus giving compassion to someone who rarely found compassion. Our text is found in Luke 5:12-16.

Let's pray and ask God to show us why compassion is such an important part of the walk!!

12While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Luke 5:12 (NIV)

13Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
Luke 5:13 (NIV)

14Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
Luke 5:14 (NIV)

15Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.
Luke 5:15 (NIV)

16But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 5:16 (NIV)

Jesus expressed His compassion by placing Himself in places where compassion was needed!

12While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
Luke 5:12 (NIV)

Jesus preached in the synagogue and went often to solitary places, but He didn't live in the synagogue or on the mountain tops. He was constantly going and making Himself available to those who needed Him, in the towns, villages, and the countryside.

 Malcolm O. Tolbert put it this way in the Broadman Commentary...

 "He would lead no sanitary, safe existence behind walls that keep human disease, filth, and misery at a comfortable and safe distance."

I want you to ask yourself a question this morning…"Am I willing and available to let God place me in places and situations to show compassion?"  

By the way, I want to point out something. With all the trouble the religious leaders gave Jesus, you might think Jesus had no compassion on them, but this is not true! Look at the verses just past our text for today...

 Luke 5:17 and following...

17One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.
Luke 5:17 (NIV)

If Jesus didn't care about them, He would not have spent time trying to teach them! While He was teaching these religious leaders in a home something amazing happened that allowed Jesus to exercise His compassion in front of these religious leaders...

18Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.
Luke 5:18 (NIV)

19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
Luke 5:19 (NIV)

20When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
Luke 5:20 (NIV)

21The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Luke 5:21 (NIV)

22Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?
Luke 5:22 (NIV)

23Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?
Luke 5:23 (NIV)

24But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . .” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
Luke 5:24 (NIV)

25Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
Luke 5:25 (NIV)

This blows my mind. It wasn't the Sabbath, so they couldn't gripe about Jesus working on the Sabbath, so they were angry He told the man his sins were forgiven.

The fact of the matter is this, it didn't matter what Jesus did, when He did it, or how He did it, they weren't going to accept His compassion. In fact, before we get back to our story about the leper, listen to how Jesus continued to put Himself in places to show His compassion...

27After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him,
Luke 5:27 (NIV)

28and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
Luke 5:28 (NIV)

29Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.
Luke 5:29 (NIV)

30But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
Luke 5:30 (NIV)

31Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
Luke 5:31 (NIV)

32I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Luke 5:32 (NIV)

I think it's pretty cool how the Pharisees asked the disciples the question, probably over to the side, maybe whispering, but Jesus answered the question!!

The sad thing was the Pharisees were sick and in need of healing, but they could't see it. The truth was they were more unclean than the leper in our story, but it was an uncleanness of the heart and they were too proud to let Jesus touch their hearts and heal them.

This takes us to the second way in which Jesus expressed His compassion...

Jesus expressed His compassion by touching the leper!

13Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man…Luke 5:13a (NIV)

The fact Jesus touched the leper is mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, Mark and Luke!

Actions trump words every time!!!! Jesus touched a leper! Folks do you understand how big this was? Lepers were outcast. They were not allowed to associate with anyone but other lepers.

They had to shout out "Unclean" when anyone got close to them. Leprosy was considered the most unclean thing next to death. The leper broke all the rules by even approaching Jesus, and Jesus broke every rule by touching the man.

However, don't you know the fact Jesus was willing to touch the man healed more than his leprosy!! When Jesus touched the man, for the first time in years, the man felt he was worth something. He felt loved in spite of his disease. He realized Jesus had looked beyond the disease.

Jesus was not going to let the disease define the man. Can you imagine the emotional healing which took place the moment Jesus touched him?

We don't have lepers in our country, but we do have outcast. People society has forgotten. People who are considered unclean and who are outcast. Do we have the compassion to get involved in their messy lives?

I guarantee our youth could tell us about some of the outcast at their school. You know, the kids no one will hang out with. The ones who are not popular. Maybe they don't dress well, or don't look amazing. Are we willing to show compassion?

We've got two ladies on our pastoral care team who've gotten a burden to help the homeless who frequent our area. They are going to make up some cloth bags with a Bible, some non-perishable food, hand sanitizer, a list of numbers the homeless can call to get help, a letter from the church and a few other things.

These will be available for you to put in your car and to hand to a homeless person the next time you encounter one. I know we have to be wise in the way we help those folks, but this much I know, Jesus died for them and God still loves them.

They are also going to put together some bags for cancer patients with things they might need. What a ministry!!

In the coming weeks you'll have an opportunity to contribute to this effort by bringing some of the items and by volunteering to help them put these bags together.

Here's something to think about…You and I don't have physical leprosy, but I'll tell you this…I was a sinful mess when Jesus reached down in the slimy pit and touched my sinful heart! 

Spiritually, I was ever bit as unclean as the leper was physically, but Jesus reached out His hand and touched me! I was changed, I was cleansed, I was given a new life, and all because Jesus was willing to look beyond my disgusting wickedness to see my need.

A gospel singer by the name of Dottie Rambo wrote these words years ago...

Amazing Grace..Will always be my song of praise.
For it was grace, that brought me liberty,
I do not know, just why He came to love me so.
He looked beyond my faults and saw my need.

I shall forever lift mine eyes to Calvary,
To view the cross, where Jesus died for me
How marvelous, His grace that caught my falling soul
He Looked beyond my faults and saw my need.

Jesus expressed His compassion by showing His heart's desire to help!

13Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
Luke 5:13 (NIV)

This is a major statement that is often overlooked. Even in the commentaries there is not much comment on this statement, but I think it's so important. This statement could change someone's life here today. Why?

 There's a lot of people who don't think God would be willing to touch them. You might think you've gone to far, you've done to much wrong, your sin is to big, to dirty, to disgusting for God to forgive.

 Satan wants you to believe this lie. Satan wants to keep you trapped in your hopelessness. But the words of Jesus to the leper expose the lies of the enemy. Jesus said, "I am willing!"

 Just as Jesus saw the plight of the leper, He sees your plight. He sees your struggle, He sees your need and He wants to help you. Remember the words He said to the Paralytic that made the Pharisees so angry...

 "Friend your sins are forgiven!" The man had a physical ailment, he was paralyzed, but his greatest need was spiritual! His greater need was to be healed of the darkness of sin.

 We don't have a problem seeing the compassion of Jesus for a leper, but we somehow have a hard time seeing His compassion for people who've made poor choices in life and are now tangled and bound up with sin. People who are addicted, scared, weak, blind and trapped in their sin.

 The truth is Jesus has compassion on sinners. He didn't come to condemn sinners, but to save them. By the same token, He doesn't condone sin, but He offers the touch of forgiveness and the power to make new choices.

 One of the most powerful stories of His compassion for sinners is found in John's gospel...

2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.
John 8:2 (NIV)

3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group
John 8:3 (NIV)

4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.
John 8:4 (NIV)

5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
John 8:5 (NIV)

6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.
John 8:6 (NIV)

7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
John 8:7 (NIV)

8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
John 8:8 (NIV)

9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.
John 8:9 (NIV)

10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
John 8:10 (NIV)

11“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
John 8:11 (NIV)

12When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12 (NIV)

 If you're here this morning and you think Jesus has no compassion towards you because of your sin, stop believing the lie and let Him touch you and change you. But remember, He will not force His healing on you. You must let Him touch your life.

 And if you've been a recipient of God's touch, how can you be so cold as to not have compassion on those still trapped in their sin? To have compassion on someone doesn't mean your condoning or enabling.

 It simply means you're willing to allow God to use you to lead another human being to the healer of souls! But remember this, to lead someone to Christ means you may have to be willing to take their hand and lead them!

This may mean you'll have to get outside the sanctuary, or your small group or you may have to leave your solitary place on the mountain to walk in the valley where the spiritual lepers are.

If you've struggled with the desire to help others, ask God to help you have the same heart and compassion towards others Christ had towards you!

One last point...

Jesus expressed His compassion by considering other issues the leper would face!

14Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”
Luke 5:14 (NIV)

15Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.
Luke 5:15 (NIV)

16But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 5:16 (NIV)

It is amazing how many times Jesus healed someone and then instructed them not to say anything about it!
Jesus never wanted to make a spectacle of the person He was trying to help!

 Jesus told the leper not to broadcast what had happened. Jesus did not heal the leper to prove He could,  He healed him because He had compassion on him.

Jesus also knew the healed leper would need to be reintroduced back into the life of society. The first step in this process was to show the priest he was truly healed and to make sacrifices.

Jesus wanted the leper to be fully restored! I do believe Jesus wanted the leper to be a testimony to the religious leaders.
I think He was still hoping some of them would believe and allow God to touch their cold, hard hearts!

When God touched your heart and saved you, He did it, not to prove He could, He did it because of His love for you and His desire to change your life both now and for eternity. However, as with the leper, Jesus wants you to be a witness of His compassion and grace to others.

The question is, are you willing to live a life of compassion like Christ?

You've heard the old saying,
"But for the grace of God, there go I."  
Paul understood this concept. Listen to what he told young Timothy...

12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.
1 Timothy 1:12 (NIV)

13Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.
1 Timothy 1:13 (NIV)

14The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 1:14 (NIV)

15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners —of whom I am the worst.
1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV)

16But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
1 Timothy 1:16 (NIV)

17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:17 (NIV)

Let's Pray!

ETS: Jesus healed a leper by touching him.
ESS: The circumstances surrounding the healing of the leper demonstrated the compassion of Jesus.
OSS: I want my hearers to walk the walk of compassion like Jesus!
Probing Question: How did Jesus express His compassion for the leper?
Unifying Word: Expressions
Transitional Sentence: Let's look at the ways Jesus expressed His compassion for the leper and others.