Who did you look up to as a child? Did you have a hero or an idol? What was it about them that you wanted to emulate in your own life? My earliest memory of my father was playing basketball with him. I was just a tiny thing with a giant ball and he was a towering figure who seemed to be able to almost reach that 10 foot hoop. I would throw the ball up and never get it past my father’s body, but he would not only effortlessly shoot that same ball up to that towering height, but even make it through that hole!
I knew then that I wanted to be tall, strong, and skilled! I wanted to be like him. And throughout the journey, there were others—teachers, coaches, a grandfather, pastors, and the like. These individuals inspired something in me that I wanted to live out. Perhaps no other has inspired me like the image of Jesus found in our Gospels. Sure, it sounds quite churchy, cheesy, or whatever adjective you want, but for me, Jesus is the persona of God lived through flesh. If I want to be close to God, then be close to Jesus. If I want to live inspired, allow His examples to become embodied in me. A tall order, no doubt, but entirely possible to strive for!
As Jesus is beginning His public ministry, He is traveling from small town to small town. He is at work proclaiming and doing the work of God among the people. Read Matthew 9:35-38. Notice His stance towards those in need—“He had compassion for them…” These souls were in need, wandering, hurting and simply needed someone to be present to them. That is the stuff of Jesus—compassionate presence. In a world that looks at merit and worth as the foundation of compassion, how would this passage fit into our current context? Can we be compassionate to our brothers and sisters simply because they are in need, are wandering lost in this world, hurting from the pains of choices made by, and to, them? Compassion will be our theme this week as we seek the Way of Christ. My hope is that the images lifted from our scriptures might inspire us while shaping our response to others.