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Iorg: ‘Boiling’ compassion of Jesus saves lost, enables saints, asks obedience

True compassion is not a "touchy-feely emotion," said Jeff Iorg in a sermon at Calvary Baptist Church in Greenwood, Ind., June 9. "It’s something deep down inside of you that bubbles and rumbles and grumbles and motivates and pushes you, pushes you to take action.” Iorg, newly installed president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, preached in the days leading up to the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting in Indiapolis. Photo by Sonya Singh


INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – The businessman at an early pastorate of Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President and CEO Jeff Iorg had sat an hour outside Iorg’s office awaiting his return from lunch.

“He told me something that day which shocked me then and still does today in some sense,” Iorg recalled the experience June 9 in a morning sermon at Calvary Baptist Church in Greenwood. The man who occasionally attended church professed a sin Iorg described as “wicked and evil,” that was destroying his family and soon, the man feared, his business.

The Calvary Baptist Church choir helps lead the congregation in worship June 9 prior to a sermon from SBC Executive Committee President and CEO Jeff Iorg. Photo by Sonya Singh

“Crying and sobbing aloud” in a pain he could no longer endure, the man told Iorg all that had happened before praying a quiet prayer of repentance seeking God’s deliverance.

“That’s what I’m talking about today,” Iorg said in his sermon focused on the compassion Jesus displayed in healing the lone leper in Mark 1:40-45. The same compassion that healed the leper and delivered the businessman from an all-consuming pain is the same that saves the physically, socially and spiritually hurting today. It anchors and gives strength to Christians too weary to continue in ministry, but also implores obedience to God’s Word, Iorg preached.

“The Bible says Jesus reached out His hand and touched” the leper, Iorg said. “He touched him and in that moment shattered centuries of religious tradition and spiritual legalism. Jesus did the unthinkable in front of maybe dozens, maybe hundreds, all watching to see what would happen in this moment when this filthy, defiled, vulgar, nasty man, living alone, isolated – just even the stench of him must have been offensive to everyone in the gathering – Jesus does the unthinkable. He touched him.”

Jesus saves those defiled by sin today, Iorg said, referencing 1 Corinthians 6:11: “And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Iorg exegeted the Scripture to show what he described as a “boiling compassion … stirring from the bowels and moving in the gut” that moved Jesus to heal the leper from a physical, social and spiritual pain resulting from a law that had sealed the man’s isolation and outcast as a leper.

Calvary Baptist Pastor Dave Cook addresses his congregation June 9. Photo by Sonya Singh

The word compassion as used at the time of the biblical text is different from the compassion we know today, Iorg said, contrasting biblical compassion with the kindness, gentleness and sweetness of a typical Hallmark Channel movie.

“In the Bible when the word compassion is used, it literally is translated ‘stirring in the bowels, moving in the gut, something rumbling deep within you,’” he said. “That’s compassion. It’s not a touchy-feely emotion. It’s something deep down inside of you that bubbles and rumbles and grumbles and motivates and pushes you, pushes you to take action.”

Comparable to the contemporary rendering of “boiling with anger,” compassion in the text indicates “boiling with compassion,” Iorg said. “So Jesus was boiling with something. He was moved with something. It was percolating inside of Him. It pushed Him to do something.”

In touching the leper, Jesus broke the Mosaic Law in Leviticus 13 that requires lepers live isolated from others, Iorg said, but in the same encounter exhorted the man to follow the law by presenting himself to the priest, make the prescribed offering for healing from leprosy and then rejoin society. Not only that, but Jesus exhorted the man to tell no one of the healing.

“Is that not puzzling to you as well? Remember, this is the same Jesus who told us to go to the whole world and tell them about Him,” Iorg said. “But He tells this leper, ‘Don’t tell anyone.’”

The reason for the contrast, Iorg said, is found in the context of when the story happens.

“We’re at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, not the end,” Iorg said. “Jesus says to this man, ‘I’ve healed you. Now listen carefully. Now I want you to obey Me.’ And I want to say it another way. ‘I want you to obey Me; I don’t want you to help me out. I don’t need help drawing a crowd. I can do that whenever I’m ready. I didn’t come to draw crowds; I came to find obedient disciples.’”

The healed man disobeyed Jesus in telling of his cleansing, thereby drawing a great crowd. Jesus wants obedient disciples, Iorg said, not those who come only for “the loaves and fishes,” referencing Jesus’ miracle of feeding the multitudes.

“My friends, I believe this is the message for the American church today,” Iorg said. Jesus has not called the church to bells and whistles nor fanfare to attract crowds. Rather, He has called the church to share the eternal Gospel with each and all, at home and abroad. My friends, we need to be focused on being obedient to that commission.”

Iorg’s sermon was among a host of events preceding the SBC 2024 Annual Meeting set for June 11-12 at the Indianapolis Convention Center.

Preceding the sermon, Calvary Baptist Senior Pastor Dave Cook moderated a Q&A with Iorg and adults during the Sunday School hour, where Iorg addressed various questions related to the SBC and the annual meeting.