July 20, 2015

Mark 6:34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.

This verse contains one of my favorite Greek words, splanchnizomai (it is in its verb form in this verse: aorist, passive, indicative, 3rd singular for those of you who care about such things). As a verb it is translated in my lexicon as to be moved with pity or compassion.” In its noun form it is translated as “the chief intestines, viscera; the entrails, bowels.” I encountered it first years ago in Philippians 1:8 where, as the old King James Version has it, Paul writes, “For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.” Say what?! We have brought it over into English with phrases about “gut feelings” or someone having “guts” (courage) or someone “gutting it out.” The point is that we experience some of our deepest feelings as sensations in the core of our bodies. We talk about heart a lot but fear and love and compassion are often felt more in our abdomens than our chests. So Jesus looks at the large crowd and has a gut reaction of care and sympathy and concern for them. He felt something deep in his being.  If you live in a world where people use or ignore or spend most of their time judging and criticizing one another it may be a stretch to think that God in human form could feel positive, concerned emotions toward the mass of humanity before him. But maybe he can break the mass down into individuals and maybe he understands and cares about each of them. Do you move God deep in God’s gut? Yeah, you do. Who moves you to compassion? How do you experience and share God’s compassion.


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