The Rifleman
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Parables from North Fork
The Rifleman Bible Stories

The Rifleman: The Sheridan Story — Episode #16


Theme: Compassion

The world is full of guess what I just ate?  people in desperate need of healing.  And hurts and scars take many forms.

If we reel from them or shun them, we are in worse shape than they are.


Key Verses:

2 Cor 1:3-5 NIV  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

Col 3:1-12 TLB  In this new life one's nationality or race or education or social position is unimportant; such things mean nothing. Whether a person has Christ is what matters, and he is equally available to all.  Since you have been chosen by God who has given you this new kind of life, and because of his deep love and concern for you, you should practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. Don't worry about making a good impression on them, but be ready to suffer quietly and patiently.

1 Th 5:14 TLB  Dear brothers, warn those who are lazy, comfort those who are frightened, take tender care of those who are weak, and be patient with everyone.

Key Idea:

Compassion can only come from a thankful heart.



A crippled rebel veteran of the civil war comes to the McCain ranch looking for a drink of water and perhaps a job.  The man is bitter because of his past injury in the war, and physically not well.  He still has his pride, which he guards well.  Mark wants to have nothing to do with him because of his appearance and attitude, and Lucas realizes his own aversion to the unkempt man.  But Lucas hires the man, in part to clear their consciences.  Later, when a band of union soldiers come to bunk for the night, the rebel soldier finds healing from a very unlikely source. 


Teacher’s Preparation:
The Rifleman: ‘The Sheridan Story’ Episode 16, originally aired 1/13/59


Teacher Reminder: Preview episode before class!




·        Define Compassion, or ask for definitions. DEFINITION: ministering to the brokenness of someone’s life and not condemn them for their unholiness.  

Literally, suffering with another

·        Q.  Tell of a time when kindness was given to you at a time when you really needed it.

·        Q.   Do you think a compassionate society possible and, if so, what does it look like?

·        Q.   Describe compassion without action. 

·        Q.   What is the difference between compassion and pity? 


Agape, the love the Lord requires of all His followers is a self-sacrificing love that is not fulfilled apart from action (cf. 1 John 3:18). It is our contention that genuine biblical compassion is an integral part of this kind of love. Jesus, the sinless model of agape, demonstrated His genuine compassion on many occasions (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34; Luke 7:12-15).

As we grow spiritually, God's love being perfected in us (1 John 4:12), we will be increasingly “moved with compassion” by the various difficulties we see our neighbors experiencing. A good example of this is recorded in the book of Hebrews, where the writer informs us that his brethren's compassionate response to his “chains” compelled them to experience the “spoiling” or “plundering” of their own goods for his sake (Hebrews 10:34).  Materialistically speaking, compassion is “quite dangerous.”  And that is a beautiful thing.

Q.     What kind of healing did Mark bring to Frank Blanden? 

Q.    What kind of healing did Mark receive?

Q.     What kind of healing did Lucas attempt to bring to Blanden?

Q.     List Blanden’s “ailments.” 

Q.    Have you ever had similar ailments?

Q.     What healing(s) did Sheridan (of all people!) bring to Frank Blanden?

Q. How did Sheridan’s actions model Christ?

Teacher: With this episode you have many attitudes towards the downtrodden displayed.  Young Mark wants to dismiss it entirely as if it doesn’t exist.  Lucas wants to as well but his conscience won’t let him.  Sheridan’s own men look too much upon the rebel soldier’s rank.  It is Sheridan who cuts though the muck and heaps avenues of healing out of his own surprising tenderness and physical resources.  Healings far beyond the poor soldier’s ability to comprehend or even wish for.  That is how it is with Christ.  That’s how we, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, should help others.

Matthew 9:36   When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.



1John 3:18  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.


Ephesians 4:15  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

In 1 John 3:18, the apostle adds yet another factor to love. Not only must we love in deed, but we must also love in truth. Love without truth is sweet, syrupy, and weak as sugar water. But, on the other hand, truth without love can often be quite destructive (cf. Ephesians 4:15). Therefore, compassion, in order to be authentic, functions somewhere between these two hurtful extremes. True compassion exhibits the love of the truth and the truth of love that are characteristics of New Testament Christianity.

Too many Christians tend to either naively think that compassion is either:

      Always sugary sweet and, bypassing all truth, never condemnatory
2.      Cynically believe that no one is a worthy candidate of it. 

--  Discuss how Sheridan applied truth to the Rebel veteran soldier.

Compassion is neither naive nor cynical. It is, instead, the glue that holds Christianity together, allowing it to be gentle and tender without deteriorating into mere sentimentality, and sacrificial without being artificial.

Concerning the world’s view of compassion, listen to the words of Pastor Allen Turner, Cincinnati.

“Those who pride themselves as combatants in the so-called “war on crime” want us to believe that the difficulties people face today are somehow unique and much more complicated and perverse than at any other time in history. Although many in our society have been indoctrinated with this lie, it simply is not true! 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century America had it all: alcoholism, drug addiction, illegitimacy, crime, unemployment, spousal and child abuse, social upheaval, and grinding poverty. What then was and is the difference? Simply this: In the past, those involved in charity were individuals who had a frank, clear-headed, compassionate, but unsentimental, view of human nature. They believed there were some genuinely poor who were truly deserving of charity (i.e., compassion/love).

These were beggarly (i.e., destitute, helpless, and powerless) through no fault of their own. On the other hand, these charitable individuals and organizations knew that much poverty resulted when individuals, of their own free wills, chose destructive paths (alcohol and vice); that such erring individuals should and could, with God's help, change course; that all able to work must do so (2 Thessalonians 3:10); that those who helped should freely give of their time and love; and that money alone, given indiscriminately, was poisonously destructive. Today, cut off from its religious moorings, the modern state sees itself as the engine of progress and the vehicle of man's salvation.

The one-by-one, individual-by-individual, person-to-person work of the past is seen as too slow of a process. Relief needs to be universal and immediate. Disagreeing with the idea that most poverty is the result of vice, freely chosen, the state believes people are basically good and that the elimination of poverty is possible through the “redistribution of wealth.” Furthermore, the modern state seems convinced that the sooner charitable work is rid of the bothersome claptrap of religion, the better everyone will be. As a result, true compassion is quite rare.”



Consider the world in which we live.  Compassion is not, as some seem to think, a public relations campaign. Neither is it simply an emotion. It is, instead, a Divinely inspired action compelled by three things:

2)     Knowledge

3)     Moral outrage, and

4)     The capacity to truly identify with the object of one's compassion.


If these three elements were a part of current sentiment, then the modern welfare state, as we have come to know it, would not exist!


Who in your life needs a compassionate touch this week?  Is there a rebel in your life that needs your understanding compassionate guidance?

Thanks Pastor Stan for these Parables!