THE COMPASSION OF JESUS
There is no end to grief. Sin destroys. Israel’s history is recorded in the Old Testament—her history of suffering from sin, but the discourses always end in this likeness: “[A] throne will be established in steadfast love, and on it will sit in faithfulness one who is swift to do righteousness”(Isa 16:5 ESV). Now the righteous One has come—in compassion.
“[T]he coming of the kingdom of God was being seen in works of mercy. It was in the compassion of Christ that this great transforming impact was being felt throughout the world”1
Synonyms for “compassion” are: care, concern, tenderheartedness, mercy, and empathy. “Empathy is the ability to experience the feelings of another person. It goes beyond sympathy, which is caring and understanding for the suffering of others.”2 Compassion equals empathy.
In the synagogue at Nazareth JESUS read from the Old Testament the declaration of His compassion (Luke 4:16-19): “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound”(Isa 61:1 ESV).
All the gospels record events where the Lord’s compassion is demonstrated: “Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand” (Mark 1:41 ESV). “And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her”(Luke 7:13 ESV). “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them”(Matt 9:36 ESV). “Jesus wept”(John 11:35 ESV).
‘He was moved with compassion.’ [F]or he took upon himself our infirmities, and was made like unto ourselves. Matchless pity, indeed, was this! He took our sicknesses and carried our sorrows: he proved himself a true brother, with quick, human sensibilities. A tear brought a tear into his eye; a cry made him pause to ask what help he could render.3
It is not the sad seeking for joy, but rather Joy seeking the sad; not emptiness seeking fullness, but rather Fullness seeking emptiness. And it is not merely that He supplies our need, but He becomes Himself the fulfillment of our need. He is ever ‘I am that which My people need.’4
Our Lord attached Himself to the woes of our nature; [i]t was necessary that our Lord, in order to sympathize fully with His people, should not only identify Himself with their nature, but also in some degree with their peculiar circumstances. He never instructs them to walk in a path that His own feet have not trod first and left their impressions.5
(13) Shout for Joy
1. Alistair Begg, “Compassionate Shepherd,” 30 July 2008, Truth for Life, The Bible-Teaching Ministry of Alistair Begg, 3 February 2021 https://www.truthforlife.org/resources/sermon/compassionate-shepherd/.
2. “Empathy vs. Sympathy,” Diffen, 3 February 2021 https://www.diffen.com/difference/Empathy_vs_Sympathy.
3. Charles Spurgeon, “The Compassion of Jesus, A Sermon (3438),” 24 December 1914, The Spurgeon Archive, 3 February 2021 https://archive.spurgeon.org/sermons/3438.php.
4. Roy and Revel Hession, We Would See Jesus (Fort Washington, PA: CLC Publications, 1958, 2010) 41.
5. Octavius Winslow, Evening Thoughts (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2005) July 31st.
6. “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted” (Isaiah 49:13 ESV).
7. Frank Ellsworth Graeff, and Joseph Lincoln Hall, “Does Jesus Care,” 1901, Hymnary, 3 February 2021 https://hymnary.org/text/does_jesus_care_when_my_heart_is_pained.