Monday, June 06, 2016

Jesus' soft side

Son of the Widow of Nain - Alexandre Bida
Son of the Widow of Nain - A. Bida
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 7:11-17

TO CHEW ON: "When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, 'Do not weep.'" Luke 7:13

Jesus had a beautifully soft side. The gospel writers speak of his "compassion" and of Him being "moved with compassion."

[to be "moved with compassion" - splanchnizomai means to be moved with deep compassion or pity.The Greeks regarded the bowels (splanchna) as the place where strong and powerful emotions originated.  Hebrews regarded splanchna as the place where tender mercies and feelings of affection, compassion, sympathy and pity originated." - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1317.]

A brief look through the gospels show Jesus' compassion:

  • For the crowds who were spiritually lost and leaderless - Matthew 9:36.
  • For the spiritually hungry (and, after three days of teaching, physically hungry) crowds that stayed with Him. His compassion instigated the miracle of feeding 4000 with "seven loaves and a few little fish" - Matthew 15:32-38.
  • For the sick - Matthew 14:14; 20:34; Mark 1:41.
  • For the demon oppressed.
    • A father begged for compassion for his demon-possessed boy, and Jesus responded with compassion, casting out the demon - Mark 1:22, 25-27.
  • As part of His teaching.
    • Jesus pictured the compassion God has in forgiving all of us undeserving ones in the parable of the Unforgiving Servant - Matthew 18:27.
    • Jesus illustrated the compassion we are to feel for any "neighbour" who is in trouble in the compassion showed by the Good Samaritan - Luke 10:33.
    • Jesus depicted God as a Father who welcomes His prodigal home in the story of the Good Samaritan - Luke 15:20.
  • For the living, left behind after the death of a loved one.
    • After the death of His friend Lazarus, "Jesus wept" - John 11:35. Even though He knew He was going to raise Lazarus, I believe it was His compassionate, empathetic heart that roused Him to tears.
    • And in our story, the weeping of a bereft widow, now also about to bury her son, moved Him to act in compassion by raising her son from death.

I ask, do I, do we similarly let ourselves be moved with compassion? In a world that is full of images of the unfortunate (from multitudes of faraway people fleeing war to those closer to home running from wildfires) it's easy to get compassion fatigued—to begin to feel calloused to the deep needs and hurts of the crowds around us.

Maybe Jesus showed us one of the remedies for this in His attention to individuals. Though in a few instances we're told He was compassionate toward crowds, mostly it was individuals who moved Him to compassion. Perhaps it's also not the crowds we're meant to respond to with compassion but the one person God brings across our path today, tomorrow, next week...

Dear Jesus, help me to feel Your compassion toward the ones You bring across my path with needs. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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