Merriam-Webster defines compassion as “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”
While sympathy and pity point to one’s understanding for another’s sufferings, compassion moves that person to action. Jesus’ love for the lost and lonely moved Him to action. Jesus had compassion. Let’s devote the next few blogs to an exploration of Jesus’ compassion. Ready?
Immediately following the martyrdom of John the Baptist, Jesus travelled across the Sea of Galilee “to a remote place to be alone. When the crowds heard this, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a large crowd, had compassion on them, and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:13–14, CSB).
Jesus must have been heart-broken at the news of His cousin’s murder. In response, He withdrew, crossing the Sea to be alone. However, the crowds learned to the Rabbi’s plans and a vast throng of hungry and hurting followed Him. Though burdened Himself, when Jesus saw the people, He had compassion for them and their burdens.
Compassion. That word in the original New Testament manuscripts always refers to Jesus. Interesting! Jesus sees the suffering of others and is moved to action.
What did He do? He “healed their sick.” The crowd had walked miles around Galilee. Why? Because Jesus, the great miracle-worker had healed the leper, the blind, and the lame. Imagine the brothers that carried their aging, ailing mother; The broke-hearted young mother who walked beside her disfigured child; The family who gathered around their beloved patriarch, stooped and broken. Jesus saw each of them. He saw them, knew their pain, and was moved to compassion.
Moved with compassion, Jesus also fed them. They had traveled far but carried few provisions. They were hungry. They were in desperate need with a long return-trip their only viable answer. The disciples said, “This place is deserted, and it is already late. Send the crowds away so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves” (Matthew 14:15, CSB). Don’t be too hard on them. They couldn’t have expected that Jesus would multiply a lad’s lunch. But He did. Because Jesus was moved with compassion, He satisfied the hunger of five thousand men and their families. Wow!
What else did Jesus do? Mark’s Gospel tells us that he taught them. “When he went ashore, he saw a large crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34, CSB).
Like sheep, the multitude was dirty, defenseless, and directionless. They needed to know that He has come to “seek and save” (Luke 19:10). So, He taught them. They needed to know that “God loved the world so much that He gave His only son!” (John 3:16). They needed to know that He had come to satisfy the “hungry and thirsty” with His righteousness (Matthew 5:6). Moved with compassion, He taught them.
Jesus still says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, CSB). Jesus was moved compassion... He still is.
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor