10.10.2008

The Compassion Of Christ


There are a lot of passages from the gospels that I could use to expound upon the title of this post, but recently, I was struck by a passage from the book of Matthew.

Matthew 14 starts off with the narration of the death of John the Baptist. John has been imprisoned for speaking out against the unlawful marriage of King Herod, and now, at the request of Herod’s daughter, is beheaded.

John’s disciples take and bury his body, and then go and tell Jesus what has happened.

The Bible doesn’t tell us too much about the specific interactions between John the Baptist and Jesus, but we know that their ministries and lives were closely connected.

In addition to the fact that they were relatives, we know that John baptized Jesus, and that Jesus later had very complimentary things to say about him, proclaiming in Matthew 11.11, “among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist!”

It shouldn’t surprise us then, that “…when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself.” (Matthew 14.13)

Jesus was God’s Son, but He was human as well, and sometimes we forget that He felt the same feelings that we do. When He heard that John had been killed, Jesus must have been terribly upset—after all, John was likely a close friend of His and was possibly the one person on earth who somewhat understood Who Jesus was and why He had come. He was upset, and He wanted to be alone.

But by now, Jesus was popular, and the people wouldn’t let Him be alone. When they figured out where He went, they followed on foot. Jesus leaves His boat and comes ashore, and then comes Matthew 14.14, which, in the context we’ve just described, is amazing to me:
“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.”
Apparently, at the sight of the people, Jesus immediately forgets His own sorrows and sees only the troubles of those around Him. He feels compassion for the multitudes, and subordinates His own needs to the needs of the people. He heals their sick, and goes on to satisfy their hunger by miraculously multiplying five loaves and two fish.

What an example Jesus provides for us! We should never be so engulfed by personal tragedies, political considerations and economic uncertainties that we lessen our ability to feel compassion for the plight of others around us.

Oh that Christians were characterized by the compassion of Christ!

6 comments:

Haile 10/10/08, 8:36 PM  

Well said Luke, well said!

Justin and Heather Bland 10/10/08, 8:56 PM  

fantastic post

these are great thoughts that I would do well to think about more.

I find so many around here are turned off by "Christians" due to their LACK of compassion...

frustrating, to say the least.

Luke 10/14/08, 9:06 AM  

Haile,

Thanks buddy.

Luke 10/14/08, 9:23 AM  

Justin,

Your comment reminds me of my favorite Gandhi quote:

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Amanda 10/18/08, 11:30 PM  

Wow I never realized that Jesus did not really "get" time to mourn for sad things. He was very determined, very focused on his mission. I could not be that strong. I do wonder what human emotions God kept from Him (if any), or what type of personality he gave Him (I would have to assume Jesus was not an "F" - lol from the Myers-Briggs test - "F"s could not handle the things He went through). I guess I could also assume that God kept feelings of depression/anxiety from Him. He just kept going and going through all the bad stuff (and knowing that more bad stuff was coming). I would have had a mental breakdown and needed some sort of pill (especially knowing my death was eminent). hmm...

Luke 10/21/08, 9:34 AM  

Amanda,

I tend to think that Jesus felt all the emotions that we do (good and bad), but that He dealt with them better than we do.

The personality question is an interesting one. I don’t put as much stock into the Myers-Briggs stuff as you and Clay do, but I do think it’s an interesting tool.

I’ve read before somewhere (sorry, I don’t remember where, so I have no link to give you) that someone had tried to go through and test Jesus based on the gospel accounts, and that He came out as pretty much down the middle. That might make sense, but I’m not sure how reliable it could be to test in that way.

I guess most interesting to me is the fact that Jesus actually did have a PERSONality. I mean, I know He was human, but when I really think about it, the implications of that are staggering.

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