When Compassion Gets In the Way of Mission

(part 2 of Mark 1:21-28)

OK, so Mark 1:21-39 starts off telling us about a demon-possessed guy who was comfortably hanging out in the synagogue. When people began responding to Jesus’ message, it called Him out, Jesus silenced it, cast it out of the man, and everybody was amazed. Verses 27-28 say, “When people saw this, news about Jesus spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.”

Understand, these people were spiritually dead…darkened. Suddenly, Jesus introduces them to life…light. Nobody else could give off such light before, not even the teachers of the Law. And once everybody saw it, they all wanted to know and tell about Him. Notice that when a cure is discovered, everybody with the disease wants the cure, and everybody who knows somebody with the disease will tell those friends and help them to it. In the eyes of these people, Jesus was the cure for those demon-possessed and ill.

This was definitely a good thing, but such wasn’t what Jesus came to do. He didn’t come to heal and exorcise, He came to recruit, save, and fulfill the Law. So, early the next morning, He escaped the crowds, so to say, and went off to pray. Before long though, Simon and company went searching for Him. When they found Jesus, they said, “Everyone’s looking for you!”

I can imagine hearing a sigh from Jesus when they said this, for He then replied, “Let’s go somewhere else…to a nearby village (or something?), so I can preach there, also. Because THAT is why I have come.” See, even Jesus’ disciples were confused about why He was there. He’s good at this healing and exorcising, it works, so it must be what He’s here to do. But they didn’t understand that there was SO much more!

Like I said, it was definitely a good thing that people were bringing their sick and possessed to Jesus, but such was not the main reason why He had come. So even though the demon was cast out of the man, he/it still partially accomplished its mission, which was to take the people’s focus off of Jesus’ teaching (Truth), to distort the people’s views of Him, and to keep Him busy. Jesus’ compassion alone was enough for the enemy to work off from. I mean, what a great way for the enemy to interfere. If Satan could keep Jesus there, healing and exorcising everybody, then couldn’t you see Satan sending more of his demons into people to be brought to Him? Because the more time that Jesus spends there with this menial stuff, the less time Jesus would have to get away and fulfill His mission. And even though His great compassion for the people burned from within, Jesus recognized this tactic of the enemy’s, and suggested leaving so that He could continue on His mission.

It’s easy to get off track when your compassion for others steps in and takes over. Don’t get me wrong, compassion is a very good thing, as well as a huge theme in Mark’s gospel. It’s only bad when it gets in the way of your mission, and/or clouds your judgment about God, His love for creation, and His mission for you.

Jesus had the authority and power to heal and exorcise, but that wasn’t why He was here. But out of His compassion for the people, He didn’t turn them away, either. However, His compassion also kept Him from taking out time to pray. This is easy to do for us, also, when things become busy, even when we’re enjoying what we’re doing. But we need to remember that even Jesus had to escape to pray, and His doing so helped Him to recollect His thoughts, remember what His mission was, and go off to do it.

Reflection:

  1. Try to remember some times when compassion, though a good thing, got in the way. On the job? At school? In a relationship? etc.
  2. When the people focused on Jesus’ compassion and the things He was able to do, they lost sight of His teachings and misunderstood who He really was. How does your understanding of God’s compassion take part in defining who Jesus is/was and His mission?
  3. Everybody in Christ has a mission for the Kingdom of God. When was the last time you got away and really prayed about His mission for you…the purpose for why you’re here?

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One thought on “When Compassion Gets In the Way of Mission

  1. John 6:26-27–“(Jesus says) “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life”. Many “followers” stopped following Jesus (John 6:66), who took His free stuff/”menial stuff”, but didn’t want to chew on and digest His real food (the eternal Word). Sometimes a person’s physical needs may lead to spiritual needs (shades of 1 Corinthians 15:46), but I believe Jesus first and foremost sees the lost who need His free gift of salvation and eternal life. Praise Jesus that we have knowledge of His Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), which is for everyone. As good as compassion is, let’s not let temporary social issues get in the way of this greatest eternal need.

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