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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, August 30, 2015

“When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them” (Matthew 9:36).

The Greek word “splagchnisthē” is translated “compassion.” It means “to feel sympathy, to pity, to be moved with tender-hearted mercy” (Strong). Spurgeon said that this Greek word “is a very remarkable one. It is not found in classic Greek. It is not found in the Septuagint [the Greek translation of the Old Testament]. The fact is, it was a word coined by the evangelists [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] themselves. They did not find [a word] in the whole Greek language that suited their purpose, and therefore they had to make one. It is expressive of the deepest emotion; a striving of the [heart] – a yearning of the innermost nature with pity...[Christ’s] heart was ready to burst with pity for the sorrow upon which his eyes were gazing. He was moved with compassion...for the sufferers before him...If you would sum up the whole character of might be gathered into one sentence, ‘He was moved with compassion on them’” (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Compassion of Jesus,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1979 edition, volume LX, p. 613; text, Matthew 9:36).

I think I know the reason there was no word to describe “compassion” in the Greek language. The Greco-Roman world didn’t need such a word because it did not feel that emotion. It was a civilization that had degenerated into heartless cruelty. The Apostle Paul described these heathen people as being “without natural affection [unloving], implacable [unforgiving], unmerciful [without compassion]” (Romans 1:31). Unloving, unforgiving, without pity and compassion – that sums up the Roman world of the first century. Dr. Charles Hodge said, “Dark as the picture here drawn is, it is not so dark as that presented by the most distinguished Greek and Latin authors, of their own countrymen [in the first century]. Commentators have collected a fearful array of passages from the ancient writers, which more than sustain the account [in Romans 1] given by the Apostle” (Charles Hodge, Ph.D., A Commentary on Romans, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1997 edition, p. 43; note on Romans 1:29-31).

In this brief sermon I can only remind you of the heartlessness of the Romans, and their bloody cruelty in the coliseums, where the people cheered in drunken revelry while gladiators, and even small children, were torn to pieces by wild bears and lions. I can only remind you that it was a common practice for these pagans to “expose” newborn infants, leaving thousands of unwanted babies to die in the fields and forests, in a crude form of abortion.

But when Christ came His followers saved many who lived through the cruelty they experienced in the arenas. And it was common for those early Christians to go into the fields and forests to rescue crying babies, left there to die. The compassion of these early Christians was a new thing in the Roman world of the first century. And it was one of the great features of the new religion that drew tens of thousands of people into the churches. Those early Christians had learned to have compassion from Christ Himself! Now I will bring out two points on soul winning from our text,

“When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them” (Matthew 9:36).

I. First, to be a soul winner you must feel what Jesus felt.

“Well,” someone says, “that was Jesus. I am not Jesus.” I know you are not Jesus. But I also know, if you are truly converted, you will want to have Him as your model.  He came, “leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Peter 2:21). Christ is our example. We should try to follow Christ as our model. We should even have the same attitude as Christ. The Apostle Paul said, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). We should strive to think and feel as Jesus did,

“When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them” (Matthew 9:36).

Over and over in the synoptic Gospels we read about the compassion of Jesus, His sympathy and pity toward the lost.

“And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them...” (Matthew 14:14).

“Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude...” (Matthew 15:32).

“So Jesus had compassion on them...” (Matthew 20:34).

“Jesus, moved with compassion” (Mark 1:41).

“And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them...” (Mark 6:34).

“I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat” (Mark 8:2).

“And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not” (Luke 7:13).

When I was thirteen years old circumstances made it impossible for me to live with my mother any more. Reluctantly my uncle let me stay in his house. But I did not feel welcome there. Also, the house was full of fighting and arguing. So after school, in the late afternoons, I would go out the back door, walk behind the house, climb over the fence and play with the son of Dr. and Mrs. McGowan, the people next door. As the sun went down Mike and I would go inside their house to watch TV. Very often Mrs. McGowan would say, “Robert, why don’t you have dinner with us?” Countless times I ate dinner with them in their kitchen.

One afternoon Mrs. McGowan said, “Robert, would you like to go with us to a revival meeting tonight?” I said, “Sure,” and went with them that evening to the First Baptist Church of Huntington Park, California. After that I went with them every Sunday. I wasn’t saved for several years, but I kept going to church with them.

Some time ago I told that story. Afterwards I told Mr. Griffith that I would not be a pastor today, 61 years later, if Mrs. McGowan had not fed me dinner and said, “Robert, would you like to go with us to a revival meeting tonight?” Mr. Griffith then said, “I wouldn’t be here either if she hadn’t done that.” Then Mr. Ceron said, “No one else in our church would be here either!” The compassion that Dr. and Mrs. McGowan had for a lonely, lost thirteen-year-old boy has resulted in two churches being started, many people saved, and these sermons going out to thousands of people around the world in 32 languages on the Internet.

“When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them” (Matthew 9:36).

“Make Me a Blessing.” Sing it!

Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing,
   Out of my life may Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O Saviour, I pray,
   Make me a blessing to someone today.
(“Make Me a Blessing” by Ira B. Wilson, 1880-1950).

Soul winners must feel what Jesus felt. If you feel no compassion, no sympathy or pity for a lost person, there is little chance that you will win him.

II. Second, to be a soul winner you must do what Jesus did.

Jesus didn’t just feel compassion for the lost – He did something about it! The Disciples left Jesus by Jacob’s well in Samaria while they went to buy food. When they got back Jesus was surrounded by Samaritans who were being converted. The Disciples tried to get Jesus to stop and eat. He said He had food already,

“My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:34-35).

When I was 17 God called me to preach the Gospel. They licensed me to preach at the church in Huntington Park. I started preaching right away, but I was still lost. I preached a memorized Gospel, but I did not know Christ. God called me to preach before I was saved! I moved back with my mother in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles.

I read a little book about Hudson Taylor, a great pioneer missionary to China. I felt that I should become a missionary to the Chinese. I joined the First Chinese Baptist Church of Los Angeles in January, 1961. I was 19 years old. I didn’t realize it, but I was still unconverted. There were very few young people my age in the church at that time. It was a small church then, before Dr. Timothy Lin became the pastor. But Murphy and Lorna Lum, a young couple in the church, made me feel welcome there. They took me out to eat after the evening services, with Mr. Gene Wilkerson. They took me to their home. In the fall I went to Biola College (now University). Murphy was taking classes at Talbot Seminary, connected with Biola. I was sitting beside Murphy Lum the morning I got saved, on September 28, 1961. When I was at Murphy Lum’s funeral a couple of weeks ago, all those thoughts went through my mind.

As I look back over half a century, I realize that I would not be a Christian or a pastor today if it had not been for the compassion of Dr. and Mrs. McGowan and Dr. and Mrs. Lum. They cared enough for my soul to help me until I was strong enough in Christ to stand alone. I can say with conviction that those four people won my soul for Christ. They didn’t just get me to say a quick “sinner’s prayer,” and then let me go. No, they did much more than that! They cared for my soul! They won my soul by their compassion for a lonely, lost teenager. That’s Christ-like evangelism! They were kind to me and they helped me stay in church to hear the Gospel preached each Sunday. I hope you will do the same with lost young people who come to our church.

“When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them” (Matthew 9:36).

“Make Me a Blessing.” Sing it!

Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing,
   Out of my life may Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O Saviour, I pray,
   Make me a blessing to someone today.

Dr. John R. Rice said,

      The Gospel message naturally requires compassion for the lost...The supreme sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, His dying love, ought to melt our hearts. The story of how the Saviour left Heaven, of His poverty, His humility, His betrayal, His bloody sweat in Gethsemane, His dying agony on the cross, are such themes as cannot be discussed properly except with the deepest moving of the soul. What floodtides of love, of gratitude, of holy surrender, of glad service they awaken in the true believer!...
      We hear it frequently said by lost sinners, “There are so many hypocrites in the church.” Well, I am sorry to say that I fear they are right. No doubt there are many hypocrites in the church. One of the twelve Apostles was a hypocrite...Do you know the one thing more than anything else that makes Christians appear like hypocrites?...I believe that unsaved people sense what they do not fully understand nor put into words, that if Christians were what they ought to be...they could not be indifferent about such holy matters as the salvation of sinners. I think that lost sinners everywhere know that if there is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun; if death and eternity and salvation and damnation are the themes of such magnitude as the Gospel of Christ teaches, then surely every born-again child of God any price to keep poor, doomed sinners out of Hell! (John R. Rice, D.D., The Golden Path of Successful Personal Soul Winning, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1961, pp. 123, 124, 125).

Indifference in soul winning brands church members as hypocrites in the eyes of the world. People sense, “If these church people really believed what they say, they would do more to help others become Christians.” You know they think that! Let us strip away this reproach by loving and caring for the lost multitudes that come into our church each Sunday!

Listen to what one new girl wrote to me in an e-mail, a few nights ago. She is from China.  Her words aren't perfect.  But they are deep and full of love.  She said,

When I was 8. My parent divorce. My mom came to America. And I been stay with my dad with the rest of my elementary school life. My dad let me transfer to another school that are closer to a part of his house. So in that case he don’t have to drive me after every two week. He let me take care of my own self in this empty house that no one was there but me. Until when I turn in to 11 and come to America live with my mom for my middle school and high school years. But everything still the same. My mom too busy at work. People ignore me in school. And one day high fever diseases with my emotion been outburst. I collapse and been send to the emergency room. That time I’m totally in a vegetative state. That time I haven’t go to school in almost 2 month. Until the day when my diseases is gone. But when I went back to school, no one ask me what happened. That is normal, because I’m a nonexistent at the very start. Imperceptible in my high school life is coming to an end. And…In the beginning of my college life I think this going to be the same like my middle school and high school years.

But a miracle suddenly come in front of me. It was a person! A person came to me and said hello to me! That was the time that I haven’t experienced in my whole life! It was an elder! And she was asking if I’m interested coming to a party in a Baptist church. I said “yes” immediately without any thinking. And on the second day a strange number called me. I was surprised and too afraid to answer the phone, because I had never answered a strange phone number call. But for some reason I answered it. Then someone in the other side of phone said that she will pick me up in this Sunday morning. After the phone call I was so excited for Sunday!...

Then when I come to this church, my world outlook was totally change. “I exist”!!! “They can see me”! They also driving that far to my home and give me my medicine pill. And that time I want to say thank you! Thank you! And thank you! for all the people in this church. I feel so thankful.

If you would like to rededicate yourself to this holy task of winning souls please come and kneel here in front of the pulpit. We will pray for God to give you compassion for the lost young people we bring to our church. (prayer). “Make Me a Blessing.” Sing it as you go back to your seat.

Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing,
   Out of my life may Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O Saviour, I pray,
   Make me a blessing to someone today.

I must not close this service without saying a few words to those of you who are still lost. The Bible says, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son [to die on the Cross], that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). It is our prayer that you will turn from sin and come directly to Jesus Christ. He is now seated at the right hand of God in Heaven. Come to Him by faith! He will cleanse you from your sin with His precious Blood, and give you eternal life. Amen.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Matthew 9:35-38.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Here Am I” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).



by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them” (Matthew 9:36).

(Romans 1:31)

I.   First, to be a soul winner you must feel what Jesus felt,
I Peter 2:21; Philippians 2:5; Matthew 14:14; 15:32; 20:34;
Mark 1:41; 6:34; 8:2; Luke 7:13.

II.  Second, to be a soul winner you must do what Jesus did,
John 4:34-35; 3:16.