From the Guts

CHUCK BOKISA

Let’s talk about Greek. My Greek professor made a t-shirt that says, “I love Greek with all my
splagchna!” He lets the “Greek Geeks” order the shirts that include a legendary old Greek
grammarians face. Like a lot of words, splagchna has a range of meanings but generally it
means “guts” or “bowels.” The verb form is one of the most fun words to say: Splagchnizomai!
(Pronounced like this: “Splagch” rhymes with black with a bit more throat at the end, “nizo”
sounds like ‘knee tz oh,’ “mai” sounds exactly like ‘my.’) It means to be moved in the guts
towards action. Splagchnizomai is the word that is used to describe Jesus’ compassion in Mark
6:30-34.

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he
said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were
coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to
a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they
ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore
he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.

For context, know that Jesus and the disciples have just had a long period of ministry. In an
effort to get some rest, they try to get away but the great crowd follows them and when Jesus
gets off the boat he has compassion on them. This word compassion is our fun Greek word
splagchnizomai. It locates this feeling of compassion for them deep within him; in his guts.
This word occurs twelve times in the Gospels and nine of them are like the usage here
where Jesus is responding to a situation. The other three are really helpful for understanding
Jesus’ response because they are all used by Jesus in famous parables.

1. It is the response of the master of the unforgiving servant right before he forgives the
massive debt his servant owes (Matthew 18:27).
2. It is the response of the Good Samaritan when he sees the wounded man on the side
of the road (Luke 10:33).
3. It is the response of the father after he sees his Prodigal Son returning home (Luke
15:20).

In all three parables, stirring deep within the characters, is a compassion and kindness that
bursts forth. This is the way that Jesus views the lost people on the banks of the Sea of Galilee.
See the heart of Jesus for the lost. From deep within compassion overflows into action. This is
the heart of our Savior that we are to emulate towards the lost.

We don’t evangelize because it is our duty. We don’t evangelize because we’ve set personal
goals to fulfill in 2022. We don’t evangelize because we feel peer pressured into it. We do it
because deep within us there is a love and compassion that overflows into action.

Conversely, we don’t avoid evangelism because of fear such as fear of others, fear of self-
image, or fear of failure. We don’t avoid evangelism because of indifference. Love conquers all
fear and indifference. Instead, we are to feel a deep longing to see the lost come to the Great
Shepherd and share the light of the Gospel with those who desperately need it.

We were just reminded recently in our series through Matthew that the harvest is now (Matt
9:35-38). So may we labor with the heart of Jesus and with a love and compassion that comes
from the guts.
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