Jesus, Full of Compassion
DECEMBER 29, 2022
Compassion, “suffering with another,” compassion may be described as pity touched with loving concern (Baker’s Dictionary of Theology).
Pity touched with loving concern.
In his book Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers, Dane Ortland wrote that the characteristic of Jesus most frequently noted in the New Testament is compassion. Compassion—suffering with another. Compassion—pity touched with loving concern.
More than anything else, when Jesus looked at sinful and suffering people, he felt compassion for them, he suffered with them, he showed them pity touched with loving concern.
Early in his ministry Jesus went from town-to-town preaching and teaching. He was on a mission. He had places to go and things to do. One day, along with his disciples and a crowd of followers, he approached the village of Nain. But before he entered the town, he stopped short. Coming toward him was a funeral party carrying the body of a widow’s only son.
“When he saw her, he had compassion on her…” (Luke 7:13). He moved toward the suffering woman. “Do not weep,” he said to the grieving mother. He raised her son back to life.
Then there was the day that Jesus walked up to a tax collector’s booth and said to Matthew, “Follow me” (Matthew 9:9).
Tax collectors were despised. They were traitors to their own people. Good people steered away from them. That evening Jesus went to Matthew’s house for dinner. The only people who would join Matthew and his new friend Jesus were other tax collectors and sinners.
But, come they did.
In fact, it must have been quite a party. Describing the evening, later Matthew wrote that many tax collectors and sinners came to dinner. The “good” people in town were scandalized. They demanded an explanation. They wanted Jesus’ disciples to answer them, “Why is your teacher eating with tax collectors?”
Jesus, hearing this said, “I desire compassion, not sacrifice, for I came to call sinners, not the righteous” (Matthew 9:13).
One more. A leper came to Jesus and fell on his knees before him. He said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” When Jesus saw the man who was unclean and rejected by society, he was filled with compassion for him (Mark 1:41). Jesus moved toward him, touched him, and healed him.
There are many other examples of Jesus’s compassion, pity, and loving concern for sinners and sufferers. What can we glean from this for us?
Understand that when you fall short, when you mess up, whether in big ways or small, when you go back to that same sinful habit that you have repeatedly promised to never indulge again, Jesus’ default response toward you is compassion.
When you are suffering, when you have physical pain, when you struggle with depression, when you have been betrayed and hurt by others, when you are afraid, understand that Jesus’ default response toward you is compassion.
Just as he moved toward the widow, and moved toward tax collectors and sinners, and moved toward the leper, he moves toward you.
Jesus is never surprised by your sin or your suffering. He is never repelled by your failures. He is full of pity and loving concern for you. Please, take comfort in this truth and rest in his compassionate, loving care for you.
Then, knowing of Jesus’ pity and loving concern for you, let that knowledge fill you with compassion for others.
“The prophets and other men of God … taught that anyone who had experienced [his compassion] would feel it is his duty to have compassion on his fellows, especially the fatherless, the widow, the foreigner… those in poverty, and the afflicted” (New Bible Dictionary).
Let us pray that God will grant us the grace to see and know more of Jesus’ compassion for us and for the grace to be filled with compassion for others. And may that compassion cause us, like Jesus, to move toward them with pity and loving concern.