I’m heading to the airport in about an hour to fly to Athens, Greece with 8 friends from church to serve at a refugee welcome center for the next 10 days, and it felt like an appropriate time for some reflection (and a long overdue blog post).
By nature, I’m a very emotional person, so empathy is something that has always come pretty naturally to me. However, while I may have keenly felt compassion for people who were suffering, I rarely acted on it before I became a follower of Jesus.
If you read any of the Gospels, you see that Jesus spends the overwhelming majority of time with the disciples and with crowds of people – teaching, healing, performing miracles, and sharing meals. And throughout the Gospels, Jesus encounters people who are suffering and He has compassion for them. But He doesn’t simply feel and then walk away – Jesus’ compassion for suffering people is always immediately followed by action to relieve their suffering:
“Now as He approached the city gate, a dead man was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her [in the funeral procession]. When the Lord saw her, He felt [great] compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” And He came up and touched the bier [on which the body rested], and the pallbearers stood still. And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise [from death]!’ The man who was dead sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.”
(Luke 7:12-15, AMP)
“Then Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, ‘I feel compassion for the crowd, because they have been with Me now three days and have nothing [left] to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, because they might faint [from exhaustion] on the way [home].’ The disciples said to Him, ‘Where are we to get enough bread in this isolated place to feed so large a crowd?’ And Jesus asked them, ‘How many loaves [of bread] do you have?’ They replied, ‘Seven, and a few small fish.’ He directed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and when He had given thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples [gave them] to the people. And they all ate and were satisfied, and they gathered up seven full baskets of the broken pieces that were left over.”
(Matthew 15:32-37, AMP)
“When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt [profound] compassion for them and healed their sick.”
(Matthew 14:14, AMP)
“When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd [waiting], and He was moved with compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd [lacking guidance]; and He began to teach them many things.”
(Mark 6:34, AMP)
“And two blind men were sitting by the road, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David (Messiah)!’ The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, ‘Lord, Son of David (Messiah) have mercy on us!’ Jesus stopped and called them, and asked, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ They answered Him, ‘Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.’ Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him [as His disciples].”
(Matthew 20:30-34, AMP)
As I grow in my faith and continue to follow Jesus, He has challenged me to not simply feel compassion, but to also take action to alleviate the suffering I see because that is exactly what He did.
Please keep me and the team in your prayers, I’m certain to have a lot to share when I return!