The Compassion of Christ (Mark 7:31-37)

The Compassion of Christ (Mark 7:31-37)

I.) Lives of Compassion

I want to begin today with what we ended with last week, and that is a call for us as believers to lead lives of compassion. No, you will not see compassion written down in this text, but you will see it displayed. The account before us is saturated with the compassion of Christ. As Christ’s people, chosen for His purpose, we too are to be saturated with it as well.

II.) Christ Like Compassion

Q.) What then is genuine compassion?

A.) True compassion is when someone is sympathetically conscious of others sufferings, and desires to alleviate it.

Christians are to be the most compassionate people living on this earth. It truly is a watermark of a Christ follower. To profess Christ, yet possess little to no compassion only shows you possess none of Christ.

Someone; however, who displays an act of compassion does not mean they are a believer. It is possible for people to display compassion and not know Christ. It is; however, impossible for someone to say they know Christ yet harbor no compassion whatsoever.

The Scripture is emphatic that believers have positionally died and our lives are hidden with Christ, who is our life, in God.[1] Since Christ lives in us and us in Him a sanctifying work has begun. A work where He commands us to kill the old man and put on the new creature in Christ.[2] According to Ephesians “the new self…has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”[3] New creatures “created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” are to “put on a heart of compassion…”[4]

This is because the One Who: Called you, and justified you, and sanctifies you, and will one day glorify you, commands you to do so. He freed us from the power of sin, and clothed us in His righteousness. He; therefore, commands us to be like Him, and empowers us to walk in a manner worthy of the righteousness by which we are clothed.

We were formerly darkness, but now we are children of light.[5] He transferred us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.[6]

Q.) What do children of Christ’s light manifest?

A.) Christ like compassion.

III.) The Compassion of Christ

One cannot look at this text before us and deny the concern of Christ for people. This detailed account before us is only found in the gospel of Mark. Though Matthew’s gospel does not deal with the deaf man, his account does provide critical information.

Keep in mind that Jesus has just done for a gentile woman the very same work He was doing for the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Mark now tells us:

Mark 7:31

Jesus and the disciples have left Phoenicia Syria and traveled to the Decapolis. “Deca” meaning ten, and “Polis” meaning city; therefore, it is a region made up of ten cities. Portions of the region resided in the land originally allotted to Israel’s tribe of Manasseh.

During Alexander the Great’s conquest to Hellenize the world the region became Greek occupied. This occupation meant paganism began to mingle with God’s people. Though not all Jews did, many were Hellenized into Greek ideologies. Ideologies that promoted pagan worship and blatant sexually immoral practices. The region became predominantly gentile in both ethnicity and practice. The occupation also worked in favor of the Roman empire who used the Decapolis to protect their trade route. If the Decapolis is in cahoots with the Romans they are certainly not in good graces with the Jews. They hate the Romans, and if you relate to the Romans, they hate you too. To show compassion to a Gentile was foreign to a Jew.

Remember what Jesus is demonstrating to His Jewish disciples: Jew and Gentile alike will be satisfied by the God of Israel’s Messiah.

Gentiles will partake of the same bread of the Master’s table

Here they are in the region where Christ instructed the former madman of Gadara to proclaim what Christ did for Him.

You may recall the last time we heard of the people from this region they were begging Christ to leave.[7] Matthew tells us what happens when Jesus returns “…great multitudes came to Him.”[8] It should be understood that the multitude is predominately Gentile. We should come to this conclusion because Matthew tells us the crowd “…marveled…and they glorified the God of Israel.”[9] Realize Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience. If it were a multitude of Jews he would not need to add the God of Israel.

Q.) What does he draw to their attention to?

A.) The compassion of Israel’s Messiah is being experienced among the Gentiles, and God is being glorified in it. Glorified being the word Doxazo.[10] Meaning Israel’s God was being ascribed glory and honor by a people who were not His people. The compassion of Christ lead to the glory of God among all people groups.

The Decapolis multitude brought with them:

“…(The)Lame, crippled, blind, dumb, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them.”[11]

By the way He is going to feed them too with only seven loaves of bread and a few small fish.[12] So we see this massive Gentile crowd comes out to experience the alleviation of various sufferings at the hands of Christ.

Q.) What does Mark do?

A.) He speaks of only one man.

Through all the hustle and bustle of the multitude coming to Christ currently, Mark records only one man for us:

Mark 7:32

This man was brought by either friends or family members begging Jesus to heal him. He was deaf. He had difficulty speaking. The Greek word for impediment is Desmos meaning band or bond.[13] He was tongue tied.

His condition would have:[14] Ostracized him from all of society. Deemed him under God’s judgment. People would have steered clear of him, and they would have avoided touching him. Those who brought him spoke on his behalf pleading for the Christ to lay His hands on him.

Look at what Jesus does with this man:

Mark 7:33a

Christ gives him undivided attention. The Creator is intimate with, and compassionate towards, His creation. Jesus not only gives His attention; He touches the very infirmities of the man:

Mark 7:33-35

Q.) What on earth is Jesus doing here?

First off on be half of the deaf community, please do not read this as a prescriptive text or some healing methodology of Jesus. The last thing they need is for you to go around sticking your fingers in their ears and applying spit to their tongue.

Secondly, Jesus does not even have to touch the man for Him to be healed.

Remember this man is deaf, so he is not able to understand what Jesus says. Jesus compassionately gives this deaf man His complete attention and:

1.) “Put His fingers into his ears,” which showed Jesus understands exactly what he suffers from.

2.) “He touched his tongue,” which again proves Jesus’ understanding of his impediment.

He does not vocalize it, He intimately shows the deaf man He understands. The question then is this:

Q.) What is the purpose of the spit?

The text is clear that “after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva.” No, there is not power in the spit. It was understood among ancient people that healing properties were found in saliva. So Jesus applying saliva signified healing was about to occur, and suffering was going to cease.

Jesus then does two things to show this man the compassion and power of God:

1.) “Looking up to heaven” indicates to the man the power to heal him will not come from the spit of Christ, but from God alone.

2.) “…with a deep sigh” Jesus expresses His grief over this man’s lifetime of suffering.

No, Jesus did not sigh because this work was to difficult for Him to do. He did not sigh because this work was difficult, He sighed because the fallen state of the world grieves Him. Since this man was deaf his other senses would be heightened to grasp Jesus’ “deep sigh” of compassion for Him.

Once Christ demonstrates to this man it is God’s compassion that is reaching out to him and it is God’s power that will heal him:

“He said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ that is, ‘Be opened!’”

Mark 7:35

He is healed immediately! Notice the extent of this miracle was not just repairing this man’s ears and tongue:

1.) He immediately understood what was being said to him without any linguistic experience.

2.) He immediately spoke “plainly” without any linguistic training.

IV.) The Conclusion of Compassion

The compassion of Christ satisfied his need. He obviously wanted to share this news, but we see Christ orders him not to:

Mark 7:36

I borrow this riddle from John MacArthur:

Q.) “Who is permitted to speak, but not able, and able to speak, but not permitted?”[15]

A.) This guy!

Q.) Why is this?

A.) I believe it has to do with the preservation of the gospel message.

Q.) Why did most people flock to Christ?

A.) To experience a level of physical satisfaction by Christ’s power. Fuel did not need to be added to that fire.

The gospel message has nothing to do with our physical needs being satisfied on earth.

The gospel message has everything to do with our spiritual need being satisfied in Christ.

Q.) What is humanities need?

A.) Atonement for sin, and another Person’s righteousness.

Q.) Why is atonement for sin, and another Person’s righteousness our need?

A.) All have sinned against the One true and Holy God, who is good and just.

In His goodness and righteousness He will not allow the guilty to go unpunished. Our sin demands eternal death under the wrath of God in hell.

1.) Without the shedding of blood to cover sin there can be no forgiveness.

2.) Without the imputation of another’s righteousness no human can ever be justified before the good and just God.

Not only do we need our sins to be covered, but we need Someone else’s righteousness in order to be declared right before God.

The gospel message is that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.[16]

Jesus was born of a virgin, making Him perfect and sinless before God. As the sinless Son of God He lived a completely righteous life. He did what we cannot! As the obedient Son of God, He willingly laid down His life as a Substitute for sinners. The God-man took humanities sins upon Himself and bore the penalty we deserve. God the Father poured out His wrath towards us upon God the Son, and forsook Him as our sins were upon Him. Jesus propitiated God’s anger for sin, thus satisfying justice. God the Father gave God the Son to shed His eternal blood to atone for our sins, and to die in our stead. The Just One atoned for the sins of the unjust, thus providing forgiveness of sins for sinners. God the Father raised God the Son three days later, so that all who trust in His work will partake in His eternal life. Jesus gives His righteousness to the repentant sinner, thus making them right before God.

Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to the Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone.

Q.) Why did Jesus want this man to be silent?

His ministry is not fulfilled by healing people of their temporary sufferings out of His genuine compassion. His ministry is fulfilled after saving a people from their sin, because of His atoning work and vicarious death on the cross.

His miraculous and compassionate works validated He was God in the flesh; therefore:

1.) When we look at Christ on the cross, we see God nailed there with our sin upon Him; appeasing His wrath and atoning for our sin.

2.) When we see the empty tomb and the living Christ with holes in His flesh, we see God offering us sinners His own life and righteous.

God had compassion on us. He demonstrated His compassion and displayed His power in Christ.

V.) Closing in Compassion

Since God shows compassion to His fallen creation, we are to put on compassion.

Yes, care for those who are suffering: physically, emotionally, and mentally. Be the neighbor Christ has called you to be. Be compassionate to all people.

Remember, the thrust of our compassion needs to go far beyond peoples physical, emotional and mental sufferings. All of these are merely a product of what truly ails them, which is that our entire world suffers from mans fall into sin. Therefore the mission of the church is not to see people freed from the various forms of temporal suffering this world has to offer. The mission of the church is to preach the Christ so people made be saved from God’s wrath and have the hope of eternal life.

Again, be compassionate to all people, and remember you are not only conscious of what truly ails your neighbor, you know the cure. It is the light of the glorious gospel of Christ shinning in their hearts, so teach it so people may glorify the God of Israel for making “the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak,” and for making sinners right before God by grace, through faith in Christ.

[1] Colossians 3:3-4

[2] Colossians 3:5-11

[3] Ephesians 4:24

[4] Colossians 3:12

[5] Ephesians 5:8

[6] Colossian 1:13

[7] Mark 5:17

[8] Matthew 15:30a

[9] Matthew 15:31

[10] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; NT Number:1392

[11] Matthew 15:30b

[12] Matthew 15:32-38; Mark 8:1-9

[13] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; NT Number:1199

[14] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, John MacArthur; Page 376

[15] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, John MacArthur; Page 373

[16] 1 Timothy 1:15

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