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January 11, 2015 - The Small Crowd - Matthew 15:32-37

posted Jan 12, 2015, 6:38 AM by Grant Garber   [ updated Jan 28, 2015, 6:03 AM ]
  • God is at work in big ways and in small ones.  Of course it is harder to see the small miracles.
  • The real miracle is that Jesus had compassion on the crowds.
  • We have lots of reasons to be wary of the crowds.
compassion = to suffer alongside
  • Jesus cares about the large crowd and the small crowd, and He has a miracle for all of them --- even the small, demanding crowd of need that you carry in your heart.  Jesus cares.
  • It isn't our job to perform miracles.  That is the Savior’s work.  Our job is to follow Christ Jesus into any crowd that He leads us.
  • God has compassion on you and on the little crowd He has led you to serve.  When you believe that, you are finally able to engage in authentic acts of compassion yourself.
  • We engage in acts of compassion to the small crowd because we believe a Savior is in our midst, and the Savior isn't nearly done providing the most miraculous gifts.  There is even a miracle for the anxious crowd within our own hearts.
Henri Nouwen, the late theologian of spirituality, died while he was serving in a home for disabled adults in Toronto.  Many of Nouwen’s earlier writings depicted a relentless searching.  A search that he tried to satisfy by becoming ordained in the Catholic Church as a priest, by getting a PhD., by serving as a seminary professor at Yale, by leaving seminary and becoming a monk at a monastery in Geneses, and later by serving as a missionary in South America.  Through many of these experiences, he wrote profound books depicting what he was learning about the spiritual life.  But if he did find what he was looking for, it came to him through this little crowd of mentally handicapped adults in Toronto.

Nouwen would spend the first two hours of every day caring for a man named Adam, who had severe Picture:  Henri Nouwen’s disabilities and couldn't speak.  Nouwen would wake him, get him washed and dressed, and take him to breakfast where Nouwen would eat beside Adam.  Then he would bring him to the place where he would spend his day.  At first Nouwen was afraid of this assignment, thinking it would be overwhelming.  But before long he began to look forward to the assignment as he always received a glimpse of the love of Jesus in the eyes of Adam.  He would write about these experiences in his last book, Adam, God’s Beloved.

People would ask Nouwen if this was the best way to be making an impact for a man of his academic training and whose writings were read by hundreds of thousands.  It was, after all, such a small crowd --- a searching scholar and a disabled man who couldn't speak.  But Nouwen would always explain that he didn't spend time with Adam to perform miracles.  He did it because Jesus led him there.  And he did it because it was wonderful to be in a place where people’s handicaps were obvious, and he could deal with his own hidden handicaps.  He did it for the compassion he received as much as for the compassion he gave.  And he did it because he had finally found joy.
  • There are already people around us --- in our small crowds --- who have hidden disabilities.  This is our small crowd.  The Gospel is crystal clear that Jesus is moved with compassion for them.  And as we enter His compassion for this small crowd, we too will find the miracle of joy.
Pastor Jim Spon | Matthew 15:32-37