Jun 4, 2009, 8:05 AM
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassion never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22)
Everywhere the word ‘compassion’ is used in the Bible, it has to do with verbal phrases like ‘to have compassion’ or ‘to move with compassion.’ It deals with sentiments. Compassion is love in action; you cannot be compassionate about something and not make a move. Your concern will have to manifest itself in a gesture of some sort. Most places our Lord Jesus went to, he was moved by what he saw: God’s children weakened by sickness, stricken by poverty and lack because of humanity’s greed and lust; people who were lost like sheep without a shepherd. In the face of adversity our Lord Jesus moved.
Humankind’s inhumanity to fellow human beings is legendary and is a contributory factor to all the difficulties and hardships people face on the earth. When we think of a world that God made and he declared ‘good,’ we understand how humankind’s motives have wrecked the ship all of us should be sailing in.
When Jesus looked at the crowds that followed him he observed that they were not only thirsty for knowledge but also for the word of God to soothe their mortal souls. The emptiness of our souls craves for the bread of life and the living water that only the word of God can satisfy. “It is written: ‘Man cannot live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) Just as bread (food) and water sustain the body, the spirit man yearns for food for his soul.
So Jesus looked at the multitude following him and he was moved with compassion because they had been following him and have not sat down to a real meal.“I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.” (Mark 8:2) So he had compassion on them and was moved to feed them. On one occasion they were 5.000, on another 4.000. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) All with whom Jesus interacted, particularly those whom he had healed, was as a result of his compassion for their status.
Jesus was told of an invalid in Jerusalem who for thirty-eight years had been by a pool near the Sheep Gate in Bethesda precisely ‘where a great number of disabled people used to lie – the blind, the lame, the paralysed.’He went straight to the man and asked him whether he wanted to get healed. He directed himself to this invalid in spite of all the other sick people out there. We understand his compassion in the light of this scripture; “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Exodus 33:19)
Remember it was for this reason that he came to earth, to set the captives free. He declared it to John the Baptist’s disciples who came to enquire whether he was the Messiah. “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Matthew 11:4-5)
Our attention is drawn to the plight of a woman whom Jesus had met at the synagogue. She had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. “She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.” (Luke 13:11) The authorities were standing by on the alert to see whether Jesus would heal her on the Sabbath which was the day of rest. Jesus healed her nevertheless although the synagogue ruler disapproved. Jesus rebuked him saying: “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” (Luke 13:16) Jesus looked on them with pity for it did not have to be so. The woman does not have to be bound neither the crippled at the Bethesda gate bed-ridden because they are also children of God, born-free to live a life worthy of their calling.
The New Testament is replete with diverse instances in which Jesus was touched and moved with compassion for people in dire circumstances. I am certain that there are one or two instances in your life during which the evil one has afflicted you. Do not despair, a solution is on its way. Call for help and Jesus will stop all he is doing to attend to you. No situation is too small for him to come in your direction.
Our Lord has enough compassion to bestow on every inhabitant of the earth, whatever the circumstances. Blind Bartimaeus called to him; “Son of David have mercy on me!” and got his attention. You too can.He is the God of all compassion.