Jesus is interrupted by people across all social and religious hierarchies. He makes time for the hurting and responds to their faith.
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This transcript was created automatically and may contain errors. It should be used for guidance only.
I wonder if you ever find yourself so busy that your interruptions are interrupted? Do you ever have that where your interruptions are interrupted? I remember when I was a solicitor used to have, and there were several of them, several clients, who would phone you on the landline on my desk. And if I was in the middle of something that I needed to focus on, I would allow it to go to voicemail. And before I could pick up that voicemail, my mobile would ring from the same client who would leave a voicemail on my mobile. And then because I hadn’t answered my landline or my mobile, they would send me an email to say, have you got my voicemail?
You get the picture.
Sometimes it’s a bit like that on a Sunday morning. I can be preparing for worship and somebody will come and tell me there’s no toilet paper in the ladies or there’s a leak somewhere – because that happens fairly often! – or something else that needs doing or whatever, and somebody will come and interrupt that interruption with something else.
It can get like that sometimes.
How Do You Handle Interruptions?
What’s your reaction when you get interruption after interruption after interruption? One of my favourite programmes, and this sadly, shows my age now, is Yes, Minister or Yes, Prime Minister. And you might remember the episode when Prime Minister Jim Hacker got absolutely fed up with the fact that Sir Humphrey Appleby, his Permanent Secretary, or the Cabinet Secretary, would be interrupting him in the middle of meetings and so on and so forth. And so he instructs his Private Secretary, Bernard Woolley, to take away Sir Humphrey Appleby’s key to Number 10 so that he’s no longer interrupted.
Have a look and see what happens.
There we go. Maybe that’s one way to deal with interruptions. Change the locks and make sure that you can’t be interrupted.
Jesus Is Interrupted
But at this point in Matthew’s gospel, we recognise that’s not how Jesus deals with interruptions. If you look in Matthew’s gospel and if you’ve got your Bible with you, whether you’ve got a paper one or whether you’ve got one open on your phone or your tablet, and you look back through Matthew’s gospel all the way back to the beginning of chapter eight, maybe even before that, you will see that Jesus is dealing with interruption upon interruption. And so right at the beginning of Chapter Eight, he’s interrupted by a man with leprosy who wants him to be healed. Who wants to be healed, and Jesus heals the man with leprosy, then it says, as Jesus returned to Capernaum, so while he was on a journey, he was interrupted again, this time by a Roman officer who says that his young servant is dying and he needs to be healed. And Jesus operates and answers to that interruption by saying, yes, I’ll come and heal him. In the end, he doesn’t actually go to heal him because the Roman officer’s faith means that he can heal him from afar and ask the Roman officer to return home and to discover that it’s already happened.
Then he goes to Peter’s house. So rather than somewhere public, he’s going somewhere private. He’s going to a friend’s house. But Matthew Chapter eight tells us that when he arrives at Peter’s house, Peter’s mother in law is in bed with a high fever, and so he’s asked to heal her. And then it says, that evening many demon possessed people were brought to Jesus, and he cast out the evil spirits with a simple command. And he healed all the sick. Even when he went to a friend’s home for some peace and quiet, he was interrupted. But he responded by healing the sick and casting out the demons.
Then he gets in a boat to go across the lake, and he’s interrupted by a storm. And the disciples, – we’re looking at this story next week, but from Mark’s gospel – say, we’re going to drown. Don’t you care? And so he has to respond and calm the storm.
Then when he gets to the other side of the lake, and I imagine when you get to the other side of the lake and you’ve been in a storm, you want to get your land legs back and all that sort of thing. But he’s interrupted again by two demon possessed men. And he heals them and casts out the demons from them.
Then he gets back in the boat. And he goes across the Sea of Galilee again, doesn’t get caught up in a storm this time. And he goes back to his own town, to Nazareth. What happens there? Some people bring a paralysed man to him on a mat and ask Jesus to heal him again. And so he does so.
Then he’s interrupted by the teachers of religious law who dislike the fact that he has healed the man and forgiven him of his sin.
Then he heals the leader of a synagogue. Well, sorry. The leader of a synagogue comes and says that his daughter’s just died, and he heals the daughter.
And then we come to the two stories that we heard this morning that Stephen read to us from Matthew, chapter nine. The two blind men who interrupt him and go behind him shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on us”. And then they go into the house where he’s staying, so they won’t even stay outside. They come in and keep shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on us”. And he heals them.
So many interruptions on interruptions on interruptions on interruptions. There must have been times when Jesus, who was fully human, wished that he could change the locks on the door, as it were, and get away from these interruptions.
People of the Land
There is something in common with all of these people in Matthew, chapter eight and Matthew chapter Nine, there is something in common. Almost all of them are what in Hebrew are called, and I’ve got no idea if I’m pronouncing this correctly, ʿammê hāʾāreṣ, which is translated as “people of the land”. But what we mean by “people of the land” is that they were the underprivileged, in fact, the unprivileged, the outcasts in society, those who were despised. Even the Roman officer, although he carried some authority with him as far as Rome was concerned, would have been despised by the people in the land of Judah because he was an occupier. These people of the land could not be holy, and so no rabbi worth his salt would never be interested in these people.
Jesus Has Compassion On Them
And yet Jesus allows them to interrupt him, and he defies convention. Why? Because of this central verse in our verses this morning. Verse 36 says:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.Matthew 9:36 (NLT)
He looked at the people who came and interrupted him. He looked at the crowds that were around them, and he could see that they were confused. They were exhausted. They were tormented. They were being led astray by their religious leaders. And something stirred deep inside him. That Greek word for compassion talks about the feeling in his gut. We talk about finding compassion and love in our hearts. But for the Greek, thinking, it was about the deepest feelings came from within their gut, from within, deep within themselves. And that’s the word that Matthew uses here. He had compassion on them deep in himself.
He was moved to compassion by their pain. He was moved by those who were sick and needed healing. He was moved by those who were blind and couldn’t see whether that was spiritual seeing and spiritual vision or physical vision. He was moved to compassion by the pain of being demon possessed and cast out many demons. He was moved by all these people who were afflicted in one way or another.
He was moved to compassion by these people’s sorrow. The Roman officer’s sorrow at the thought of losing a young servant, the synagogue leader, who thought he’d already lost his daughter. He was moved by their sorrow.
He was moved to compassion by the loneliness. The leper who would have been outcast from society and thrown out of his village or his town to suffer alone. Outside of the boundaries, banished from society. Moved to compassion by their loneliness.
And he was moved to compassion by their bewilderment. He could sense that they longed for God, that they longed for God’s love and compassion. But they weren’t finding it. They were being misled by their religious leaders who would say, the only way that you’re going to gain God’s love and compassion is to fulfil all of these Laws and Rules. And if you break just one of them, then you lose his love and compassion. He was moved to compassion by their bewilderment.
Are We Prepared to Be Interrupted as Jesus Was Interrupted?
And the application point this morning for us is very, very simple: As Jesus followers, are we prepared to be interrupted by the needs of those around us? Are we prepared to respond in love and compassion just like Jesus did?
Slowing Down and Seeing Through Jesus’ Eyes
If we’re going to do that, then first of all, we need to slow down. We need to slow down and see through Jesus’ eyes those who are lost, those who are tormented, those who are exhausted, those who are unprivileged, those who are outcast, those who are marginalised in our society. To slow down and see, those who are harassed by just the pressure and the exhaustion of the pace of life of today, those who are going nowhere, those who are being led astray by what the world says is important, which is often so different to what God says is important.
I think that’s an important message to hear this morning, just as we’re going into the busiest season of the year. Will we slow down and see these people and respond in love and compassion, or will we rush from one activity to another and make the activity the important thing?
Maybe We’re Not Prepared to Make the Necessary Sacrifices?
Maybe we’ll just be content with entertaining ourselves, enjoying each other’s fellowship. Maybe we’re unwilling to make the sacrifices that it takes to show love and compassion to those who might interrupt us. Maybe we feel powerless to witness. Maybe you hear my words this morning, encouraging us to reach out to those around us and invite them to come and join with us and to celebrate Christmas and think, but I can’t do that. I don’t have the power to do that. I don’t have the courage to do that. Maybe individually and corporately, we are failing to pray enough to be filled with the compassion and love of Jesus and to show that to those around us.
The question is, will we care? Will we go out on mission and show God’s love and compassion? Will we look out for people and invite them in?
If we do? I have to be honest with you. We are risking our respectability. If we truly reach out to the people that Jesus reached out to, then we are risking our respectability. This place will be a mess. Honestly, this place will be a mess if we reach out to the people that Jesus reaches out to. And we have to ask ourselves, are we willing to make that sacrifice?
Are we willing to live lives of holiness, so that our lives shine out, so that our lives are beacons of light wherever we find ourselves in the week, so that we can be salt and light to those around us, so that people around us can say, I don’t know what it is, but there is something different about you, and I want that, too. Or would we rather keep this place as a social club for ourselves?
The Little Life-Saving Station
In one of my modules at William Booth College, I think it was a mission one, there was a textbook that I had to read. I can remember the author’s name because it’s Clinebell. It’s not a name you hear very often. I can’t remember the name of the book, although it is on my bookshelf at home. But what I do remember about it is that it started with this story about the Little Life Saving Station by Theodore Wedel. I suspect is how you pronounce it. And it just made me stop. I didn’t get any further into the book until after I’d read this story a few times.
On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a little lifesaving station. The building was just a hut and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought of themselves went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost. Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and gave their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews trained. The little lifesaving station grew.
Some of the members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the large building. Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as a sort of club. Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The lifesaving motif still prevailed in the club’s decoration, and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held. About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and a hired crew brought in the boatloads of cold, wet, and half drowned people. They were dirty and sick and some of them had black skins and some had yellow skins. The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where the victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned up before coming inside.
At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club. Some members insisted upon lifesaving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. They did. As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that occurred in the old. It evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that seacoast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along the shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown.Theodore Wedel in Basic Types of Pastoral Care & Counselling, Howard Clinebell
Doesn’t that make you stop and think? Are we willing to show God’s love and compassion to those who really need it? Are we willing to risk our respectability?Are we willing to reach out to the lives of those who Jesus would reach out to?
Let’s Not Let People Drown
I don’t want this place to be known as a place that lets people drown. I don’t want it, and I’m sure most of you don’t want it either. So, as Jesus says, let’s pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more workers into the fields. But then let’s be prepared to be the answer to our own prayers. We’re the workers who are sent out into the fields. Let’s give those around us the hope that they need.
Let’s Choose to Bring Hope Instead
You see, people can endure horrible sickness if they have hope. People can be deeply discouraged and depressed, but they can hold on if they have hope. Let’s tell those on the outskirts of our society, on the outskirts of our community, in this town and beyond, the despised, the rejected, the marginalised, the forgotten, that they can come to us and they can come to God as they are.
It will be messy, it will be disorderly. It will risk our reputation. It will mean sacrifice for all of us. It will mean interruptions. Sometimes it will mean interruptions on interruptions. But it will be doing as Jesus did.
It will be doing as Jesus did.
Come As You Are
A few years ago, Salvationists Karl and Alvin Allison wrote a song, Come As You Are. The chorus says:
You should come as you are,
As you already are,
Because nobody here will condemn you.
There’s no standard or bar,
No front door registrar,
Only Jesus, who died to redeem you.
You should come as you are.Come As You Are, Karl & Alvin Allison
As we listen to this song, as we read and listen to the quite challenging lyrics, it has to be said, we need to ask ourselves are we willing to put ourselves out there and say to those on the margins of our society, come as you are? We’ll accept the mess. We’ll accept the disorder, we’ll accept the interruptions because we want to show you love and compassion as Jesus did or do we want to remain a social club for our exclusive use? Come As You Are.
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Sermon Series: Divine Interruptions
- Sunday 29 October – Interrupting Jesus Disrupts Our Lives With His Love and His Ways
- Sunday 5 November – Jesus Loves the Little Children – This is the Remarkable Key to Childlike Faith
- Sunday 19 November – Jesus is Interrupted by the Hurting – This is What We Must Make Time For Too
- Sunday 26 November – God Is Never Too Busy To Be Interrupted By You
- God’s Beautiful Gift Of Grace: Does God Forgive All Sins?
- You Need to Focus on Jesus not the Storm
- What Does Heaven Look Like?
- How To Apply God’s Word: The Most Wondrous Force Ever Seen
- Prison Life? Temptation and How To Overcome It with The Salvation Army Soldiers Covenant
1. [What it means when Jesus is interrupted](https://www.faithgateway.com/when-jesus-is-interrupted/#.YYDzISOZN0s) – A deep dive interpretation and reflection on what it means to be “interrupted” in the context of Jesus’ ministry.
2. [When Jesus was Interrupted](https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon-illustrations/72472/when-jesus-was-interrupted-by-sermon-central) – An illustrative sermon focuses on instances where Jesus was disrupted.
3. [The Interruptions of Life – Women Encountering Jesus](https://christianuniversity.org/courses/the-interruptions-of-life-women-encountering-jesus/) – Discusses how women encountered Jesus and how he responded to these “interruptions.”
4. [Understanding Jesus’ Love for the Hurting](https://ymi.today/2018/03/odj-jesus-love-for-the-hurting/) – Expanding on Jesus’ compassion towards the downtrodden and hurting.
5. [Does God Care When I Hurt](https://www.gotquestions.org/God-care-hurt.html) – Discussing the idea of God’s concern for human suffering.
6. [How Jesus Responded to Hurting People](https://corechristianity.com/resource-library/articles/how-did-jesus-respond-to-hurting-people) – Exploring Jesus’ reaction and treatment towards people in various states of suffering.
7. [Taking time for the hurting: a Christian perspective](https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/are-you-too-busy-to-be-kind) – A study on how Christians might emulate Jesus’ compassion for the hurting in their own lives.
8. [Dealing with Life’s Interruptions](http://www.mentalhealthandthechurch.com/Interesting_Sites/Entries/2012/5/1_Dealing_with_Lifes_Interruptions_by_Dr._Mike_Woods.html) – Discusses how to deal with interruptions in life from a Christian perspective.
9. [Love Interrupted: A True Story of Life, Death, and Living a Life of Faith](https://www.amazon.com/Love-Interrupted-True-Life-Death-ebook/dp/B07SHR5D93) – A book discussing how faith can be affected and tested by tragic interruptions to life.
10. [Time for God](https://odb.org/2016/03/01/time-for-god/) – A devotional piece advocating for putting God first and making time for Him in our increasingly busy lives.
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