THE COMPASSION OF JESUS
WHO KNOWS HOW ONE ACTION WILL BE UTILISED BY THE LORD TO ACHIEVE ANOTHER
“He was moved with compassion.” “Matthew 9:36”
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” “Matthew 23:37”
As an Evangelist I find myself at times in a dilemma when proclaiming the Word of God. Do I as an evangelist take the scriptures and apply them in a straightforward gospel message aimed at expressing the good news of the saviour to any who may not know him or look at a broader picture – it was the broader picture – and the theme of compassion I believe that the Holy Spirit emphasised to me on this occasion.
I want today to try and express what I feel the Holy Spirit is conveying to us all as the “corporate” body of Christ.
There were and still are only 2 things that corporately we need to be sure of and they are reflected in Our Ministry and our Mission: –
- LOVING THE LORD OUR GOD WITH ALL OF OUR HEART. MIND, SPIRIT & SOUL
“Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Matthew 22:37
- WINNING THOSE WHO ARE LOST TO THE LORD JESUS
“And he said unto them, go ye into all the World, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:19-20
There was nothing more important to Jesus, and thus as his followers there should be nothing more important to us.
When we come together as Gods People I wonder what it is we have in our minds – most certainly we come to be blessed, we come to enjoy good fellowship with the family of God, we have needs that we hope will be met – but do we come with a desire to be challenged?
I hope we come with a desire to be challenged, because it is my intention and my desire today to try, with the Holy Spirit’s help to challenge and inspire you.
The word compassion is utilised in respect of Jesus on many occasions in the New Testament.
The original word is a very remarkable one. It is not found in classic Greek. It is not found in the Septuagint. The fact is it was a word coined by the writers of the New Testament themselves. They couldn’t find a word in the whole Greek language that suited their purpose, and therefore they had to design one, such was the uniqueness that was expressed in the act.
It is expressive of the deepest emotion and indicates: –
- A Striving of the Bowels, almost akin to childbirth.
- A Yearning of the innermost nature with pity.
When we look at Jesus and his perspective on things and how he viewed the world we can be in no doubt, that those who watched him closely recognised several things about him: –
- He was Internal Agitated.
- His Emotions were so deep that his face betrayed how he was feeling. It says in “Jeremiah 9:1” – “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” and this whilst an expression of the prophet, was expressing what Jesus was feeling and what the disciples saw.
- His heart was ready to burst with pity because of the plight and sorrow which he saw in those that surrounded him.
Scripture tells us that his eyes gushed like founts with tears. He in ages past observed man in his evil progress, adding sin to sin through generation after generation, fouling every page of history.
In the Old Testament we are told of Lot it says of him –
“And delivered just lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked” “2 PETER: 2:7”
What that word vexed means is to labour down, that is, wear with toil oppress, vex. It shares the same root meaning of what Jesus was experiencing – lot was vexed, worn down by the sinfulness of his generation, and Jesus likewise, but in addition to this He toiled emotional with man’s inhumanity to man and what he knew of the future they faced.
If you want to boil it down, we could simply say – “He was moved with compassion. His whole nature, everything about him was stirred up with commiseration for the sufferers and the suffering he saw before him.”
How could we summarise the entire character of Jesus in respect to us here, one sentence would for all practical terms do it, and it is contained in the words of my text, – “He was moved with compassion.”
The word is not used many times even by the writers of the New Testament, nevertheless it characterises the whole life of Jesus, and so I am going to apply what I say to him.
When you break down the word compassion, you get the words, come and passion. The Greek words that we get compassion from are: –
- Passion – derived from patho, which means to suffer.
- Come – derived from the Greek word erchomai, which means with.
So, compassion means to suffer with.
Let’s look at 4 things: –
In these 4 areas we see: –
- The Compassion of Christ in Eternity Past
- The Compassion of Christ in His Incarnation and Life
- The Compassion of Christ in his Death
- The compassion of Christ in Glory
THE COMPASSION OF CHRIST IN ETERNITY PAST
Let us take a rapid survey of the compassionate actions of Jesus: –
- In Ages Past His Compassion is Revealed –
Right from the very beginning of the life of Jesus and I mean even before the Word was spoken and He as the Bible tells us in “John 1-14” – “Was made flesh and dwelt amongst us” there is evidence of His compassion. Even before the earth was framed; before as the hymn writer puts it “the stars were flung into space” it was clear to God that man would never come up to scratch and would sin; it didn’t catch Him by surprise.
He knew that Adam as the common parent of the entire human family; would cause all who followed to become sinners too, we all share his DNA after all.
Therefore, it was purposed, in God’s plan, that there should be one to bring about change. A new Adam if you like a second Adam, one without tainted DNA He would restore the breach, and repair the failure of the first Adam. How do I know that? Well! I’m told very clearly in “1 Corinthians: 15:45” where it says – “And so it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”
The Bible clearly tells us in “Ezekiel 18:20” – “The soul that sinneth shall surely die” and in “1 Corinthians 15:22” it says, “For in Adam all die” and so who could God select, who would be so pure, so holy, and without sin either committed or inbred – No angel matched the profile. There was one and only one – God’s Son Jesus Christ. “1 Corinthians: 15:22” goes on to say, “even so in Christ shall all be made alive”.
It is said of him in “Hebrews 1-6” – “Let all the angels of God worship him” and in “Proverbs 27-28” – “When he prepared the heavens I was there, when he set a compass upon the face of the depth, when he established the clouds above, when he strengthened the fountain of the deep” The Apostle John speaks of Jesus as the “Word who was God, and was in the beginning with God” – “John 1:1-2″.
Can we really be in any doubt whatsoever that He was moved with compassion when he said yes to His Father on our behalf, it was a decision in which He decided to be the soul that should die He decided to be the sufferer, so we could be the gainers. Yes, He was even then moved with compassion.
It was no transient feeling He delighted in what He knew could be, it says in “Hebrews 10-7” – “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God.”
He knew that there was no way of saving us but by stooping to us.
THE COMPASSION OF CHRIST IN HIS INCARNATION AND LIFE
- In His Incarnation His Compassion is Revealed –
We have seen that Jesus Christ was truly the “be all” of Heaven but how did He come: –
- In Royal Procession.
- With a Fanfare.
- With Fireworks.
NO! – to the astonishment I am sure of all the angelic host who worshipped Him, the light and glory of heaven came down to earth in the form of an infant; He condescended to the vulnerability of an earthly child a baby born in Bethlehem, in a filthy stable, and the only one proclaiming Him was a guy running around the place in sack cloth and ashes, who’s main diet was locusts and honey.
As one writer put it – “There was no way of saving us but by stooping to us. To bring earth up to heaven, He must bring heaven down to earth, in the incarnation; He brought heaven down to earth.”
In additional to that He who as the old chorus writer puts it “Owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the wealth in every mine” was so generous, that He gave all He had for the help of those who were impoverished. The Bible tells us in “Matthew 8:20” – “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head”. He had nowhere to call his own.
Therefore, in His incarnation, He showed His compassion and throughout His life He continued to reveal it.
- A Tear brought a Tear into His eye.
- A Cry made Him pause to ask what help He could give.
The Bible tells us in “Isaiah 53-3-5” that “He took our sicknesses He carried our sorrows – He was acquainted with our griefs”
- In His Life His Compassion is Revealed
Earlier I mentioned that these feelings of Jesus were not transient. we so often will see something on the television or hear something on the radio, we see a beggar on the street and we are moved, we feel a degree of sorrow, but give it a week, a day perhaps even an hour later, how are we feeling then? So much has crammed its way into our thinking and that initial thought or feeling has dissipated and vanished – but not with so with Jesus.
Let’s quickly look at a few examples.
The Blind Men – Matthew 20:31
in “Matthew 20:31” it says, “Two blind men sat by the wayside begging, and when they heard that Jesus passed by, they said, ‘O Lord, thou Son of David, have mercy on us.” We are told that Jesus stopped in his tracks, He heard them in the noise and bustle of the crowd, and He called them and questioned them. They were fully convinced that He both could and would restore their sight, so Jesus had compassion on them, touched their eyes, and immediately they received sight.
There is a lesson for all of us here who believe in divine healing.
- Do you believe that Christ can Heal you?
- Do you believe that he is willing to Heal you?
If your answer is yes, then let me assure you He is moved with compassion towards you, and already commanding you to come to Him. He is ready to heal you now. You do not even have to leave your seat, you don’t need to come to a Cross for prayer – right now where you are seated – He can by the Holy Spirit give you the healing you require.
Jesus however saw more than the physical state of the men, He also saw their inward state, He recognised as the Bible says in “Matthew 18:8” – “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire”.
I’m sure that if there were a choice, to leave these blind men blind, but saved, or sighted and lost – Jesus would have chosen to leave them blind. Nevertheless, the condition of the blind men moved Him.
There wasn’t anything strange or uncommon about their appearance it wasn’t this that stopped him in his tracks NO! What moved Jesus was that recognised that they had inward sight.
THE LEPER – Mark 1:41
In “Mark 1:41” we see the leper. He said to Jesus, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” He was dead right in what he stated; He had full faith in Christ’s ability, but doubted his willingness. How about you today, do you fully believe that Jesus is able – If so that’s great, but you might like the Leper not feel he is willing “Oh I’ve done to many things wrong, I’ve backslidden, I’ve failed him so often” Jesus does not hold anything against us. Jesus looked at the Leper, and although He could have rebuked him for doubting His willingness, He merely said, “I will, be thou clean,” straightaway he received his healing.
I want to assure you today that the compassion of Jesus reaches out to all. If you have some lingering doubt about Jesus’ willingness? Then little as your faith is, know that Jesus, full of compassion, accept what faith you have.
THE DEMONIAC – Mark 5:19
In “Mark 5:19” we have an instance where there was no faith, no desire, nor anything that could commend him to the compassion or sympathy of Jesus. But Christ was moved with compassion, and He commanded that the evil spirit come out of him. Oh! I’m so glad of this instance of his being moved with compassion.
It’s easy isn’t it to expect that Jesus would pity those that believe in Him, or would pity those weak in faith, but here was quite the opposite.
You may be here on this web site for the first time; you don’t know why you have ended up here today.
You don’t want to be converted – Not You. You almost shun the thought of it but let me tell you in the words of the Bible “He will have compassion on whom he will have compassion” – “Romans 9 – 15″
Jesus knows the terrors of the world to come, in modern language – “He’s been there, done that and got the tee shirt”. He describes the torments of hell. He sees your danger; He warns you; He pities you; He sends His messengers to counsel you. He say’s to “Come unto me, and I will give you rest.” for what will be your fate if you die as you are? What will be your doom eternally if you pass out of this world, as soon we all must, without his compassion?
THE COMPASSION OF CHRIST IN HIS DEATH
- In His Death His Compassion is Revealed
It is a fact, we can’t hide from it God must punish sin, if He didn’t He would have to relinquish the government of the universe. If He let iniquity go unpunished He would compromise the purity of His administration and it would immediately crumble.
- God’s Law must be Honoured.
- Justice needs to be Vindicated.
- Righteousness must be Upheld.
- Sinfulness inbred in mankind had to be Eradicated by Death.
Who can do it – of course (only Jesus) and did He forsake the task NO! Jesus moved with compassion stepped in.
The Bible says, “He trod the wine press of the wrath of God alone” He was Stripped of His clothes, He was hung upon the cross to die.
He in life had nothing and in death He was the same – without a friend, without even a tomb. He in life gave up all the comforts of life, and in death He did the same; He gave His life to prove that He was moved with compassion.
He faced the lash; He faced the spear in His side and the nails in His hands and feet. In “Isaiah 59 -16” it says “And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore, his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.”
Why? Because He was moved with compassion. Compassion was like “necrotising fasciitis” the flesh eating disease we have heard about in recent years – all consuming. He was utterly consumed with love and died in the flame of that ardent love towards the world.
THE COMPASSION OF CHRIST IN GLORY
- In His Resurrection and Ascension His Compassion is Revealed
Jesus was only in the grave a short time, and He only stayed there for the time He did because he had a job to do, but then he rose again.
He is now “living at the right hand of God and exalted” – “Acts 2:33″ it is a place of power and authority and still He is moved with compassion. How is it seen?
There conspicuous in the very midst of Heaven is He who looks like a lamb that has been slain, and wears His priesthood still? But, what is His Occupation? He is not offering a sacrifice again, because He has done that at Calvary. That work is done.
What is He doing now?
- He is Pleading for His People.
- He is their Perpetual Advocate.
- He is their Continual Intercessor.
- He never rests until they come to their rest.
- He never holds his peace for them, but pleads the merit of His blood,
Jesus knew that after we were saved we would still be full of wants, and moved with compassion, He set up the throne of grace, to which we may always come, and from which we may always obtain grace to help in time of need.
Jesus knew we would have difficulties in praying and would not know how to pray sometimes and moved with compassion he sent the Holy Spirit to help us in our infirmities, and to teach us how to pray.
Jesus knew how forgetful we were, and moved with compassion, he instituted the breaking of bread, so we can sit around the table in remembrance of him.
His promises meet our every circumstance!
- Had you ever to pass through a river of adversity and not discovered that He was there with you?
- Were you ever on your sick bed and found that He was not there with you?”
He has looked us over and over from head to foot, and said: –
- “You will have infirmities – there: I will provide for them.”
- “You will have weaknesses – there: I will provide for them.”
He sees our faults, when we don’t. He knows our faults more thoroughly than we do. Yet still he does not act angrily towards us. He continues to show us abounding mercies.
The hymn writer proclaims – “Oh! What a Saviour” how we should bless His Name, and how his praise should be continually in our mouth.
We cannot get away from the fact though that whilst Jesus sees the individual in the midst of the crowd the occasions on which we find Him being moved with compassion the most is when crowds of people were assembled together.
At the sight of the great congregations that gathered to hear Him, Jesus was moved with compassion. Sometimes it was because they were hungry and faint, so He multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed them. He showed his disciples that they should not be so spiritually-minded as to forget that people have flesh and blood and that they require sustenance; they need to eat and to drink, to be housed and clothed. On other occasions Jesus was moved He saw the number of sick people in the crowds.
We should endeavour to mitigate human suffering in whatever way we can, this is Christ’s way.
HOWEVER, the multitude excited his compassion because they were like sheep without a shepherd “1 Peter 2:25” says “For ye were as sheep going astray”.
Surely, if we love Him, and wish to be like Him, we cannot look on the community in which we find ourselves without pity. We can’t look at the place He as Kingdom People has entrusted us with and be in it and stand in the midst of the people for half an hour without saying: –
- What is the Condition of those around me?
- Which Road are they Travelling? “Is it the Broad Road to Destruction or the Narrow Road to Life?
- Will they all meet in Heaven?”
If Jesus were in your neighbourhood physically His heart would ache, His soul would be ready to burst with pity. We should be looking out for opportunities.
Jesus knew that when He left earth what would happen while He was away. He knew the following: –
- That we should never be able to preserve the Truth by Tradition.
- He knew the Clergy would not preach the Gospel.
- He knew that no order of men could be trusted to hold fast sound doctrine from generation to generation.
- He knew there would be hirelings that dare not be faithful to their conscience lest they should lose their pay.
- He knew there would be others who love to tickle men’s ears and flatter their vanity rather than to tell out plainly and distinctly the whole counsel of God.
- He knew that some would not read the Bible.
- He knew others might read and not understand it.
So, what has He done?
He has chosen such as us – He has sent us all out to do The Work of Evangelists. He has raised up men and women, boys and girls, young and old, educated or otherwise, who know Him as their Saviour, who recognise that they are trophies of his grace, and He enables us to preach His truth.
Sure, there are some with more ability than others, but ability can be taught – if there is a willing heart. The lost will not come to Christ of themselves.
He requires us to: –
- Go after them and persuade them.
- Plead with them, and intreat them to believe and turn to the Lord.
He was and still is moved with compassion, and therefore He sends us all as His servants to call sinners to repentance.
The Holy Spirit has been given to us to enable us in our task, He is here dwelling in His Church, He moves over us, and He is attempting to touch our hearts afresh.
Today there is nothing that can be done about those already in Hades. But preventative steps can be taken to assure that other people don’t end up there. But we cannot cut corners. We cannot live as though it could never happen to us.
Like a “black box” containing a voice recording of disaster-in-progress, the words of Jesus warn us to be careful of the Maintenance of our relationship with Him. They also spur us into action to try to reach our loved ones and neighbours before it is too late.
- If you are not a Christian, don’t wait! Don’t risk an eternity of torment for the sake of a few years of pleasure. Be reconciled to God today!
- For those of us who are Christians, we dare not let up on our commitment to Christ. The danger is too great, and the stakes are too high.
“Growing churches have a heart for reaching people for Jesus Christ. If your vision is to care for the contented, then you will not produce passion in your people to reach those outside the boundaries of the church family.”
One of the exciting dynamics of having a clear vision of what it means to obey Jesus when He says “Go” is recognising the need to be present in the community. Rather than waiting for the community to show up on the Church’s doorstep.
Churches that break growth barriers practice what some call “Presence Evangelism”
- Being present in the Normal Network of Society,
- Being present in the Ministry to physical needs of people,
- Being present in the Spiritual battle for people’s souls.
Rick Warren has said: –
“Churches that are effective reaching people for Christ see the needs of the unchurched, establish ministries that allow the church to be present in the community, and have a process by which they are able to draw these unchurched people into the safety of Christ and a local church”
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