Saturday, November 20, 2010

What Would Jesus Do? Part 4 [Compassion]

There is a video on that has made it’s way around the internet , entitled Get Service.  It portrays a young man as he prepares to go about his daily routine, except that it seems that everyone who crosses his path is out to inconvenience him or otherwise delay his progress.  That is until a mysterious gent gives him a pair of glasses that enable him to peer into the lives of the people that he comes into contact with.  Needless to say, it changes his perspective in short order.  Go see it!  It’s worth the four minutes or so of viewing time.

Compassion is not an attribute that we normally associate with masculinity in today's culture. Satan's counterfeit,  machismo, wars against this Godly characteristic, and all to often wins out. This is based in selfishness, or  a self-seeking mentality.  Machismo dictates that one look out for himself with total disregard to the comfort or well-being of others.

We have an example to follow by which we can gauge true manliness, Jesus Christ.  Often we ask, or are asked, “What would Jesus do?”.  As we have noted in previous posts, this is a topic that can cover a lot of ground, so let's look at this often misunderstood characteristic, one that the Master expects us to emulate Him in.

His Compassion was universal

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Mat 9:35-36 KJV)

Jesus saw the people just as they were, confused, hurting, and wayward.  That sounds like so much of society today.  They were the guy that cut you off in traffic, or the one that was rude to you at Walmart.  They were the ones obstinate and obtuse by choice or ignorance;  In short, they were people behaving in much the same ways as they have in any generation.

But rather than act out with disdain or dismissiveness, He was moved with, or driven by compassion.  Are we driven enough by compassion? If not, then we have work to do.  It is the way He was.  I want to be this way.  It is what I long for Him to change in my heart.

He had compassion on ALL of them.  He saw people as unique individuals, every one precious in His eyes.  Much like the fellow wearing the glasses in the video, I believe Jesus could discern their individual trials.  He did not view them as the masses, He cared very much for each and every one of them.

How often do we view people as objects or obstacles?  Annoyances?  A necessary evil?  I dare say we do it (to our shame) far more than we would be comfortable admitting.  But that was not the way of the Master.

He made no distinction between those 'worthy' or 'unworthy', rich or poor, clean or dirty.  He simply wasn’t interested in class struggles.  He would have given no favoritism to the guy carrying the cardboard sign saying ‘will work for food’, or the one driving the BMW past him.

You get the picture...

His compassion brought healing

When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. (Mat 14:13-14 KJV)

Here, Jesus had taken leave of the people to pray, yet they followed Him, in order to hear His teaching, and to be touched by Him.  They had interrupted His purpose in praying and rejuvenating His own Spirit.  He immediately changed His plans, due to His great compassion and ministered to them.

What do we display to people in need when they interrupt what we are doing?  Even when we are doing something spiritual?  Even when we are attempting to tend to our own spiritual needs?  Compassion? Or contempt?

Are we following in the Master's footsteps?

Christ like compassion heals physical needs, spiritual needs, as well as emotional needs.  It also addresses social needs:

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Heb 10:25 KJV)

I believe Jesus was a people person.  He was willing to engage people when at their lowest points in life.  I believe he still is, and is our supreme example.

Compassion compelled Him to heal the sick.  He healed them ALL:

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Act 10:38 KJV)

See also: Matt 4:24, Matt 8:16, Luke 4:40

His compassion brought vision

So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him. (Mat 20:34 KJV)

Compassion compelled Him to do the impossible.  Modern science can restore blindness, but it is a very expensive and risky procedure.  The results cannot be guaranteed, many times surgical attempts fail.  But Jesus restored sight to all the blind that He ministered to.  This is exceptional, a 100% recovery rate.  Medical science can only envy that statistic from afar.

How often are we driven to do the impossible, or even the difficult but possible?  The inconvenient?  The easy?

Why are signs not following those that believe? (Mark 16:17)  Are we believers?  Are we moved by compassion?  These are sobering questions that seem to raise the bar ever higher.  Still, we are to strive to go higher and higher.

Compassion drove His desire to heal

And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. (Mar 1:41 KJV)

Perhaps one of Jesus' most poignant statements was, “I will”.  In a more modern paraphrase, He might have put it this way:   “I am willing”, or “It is My will”, or “That's what I want for you”.  In those times, the leper was a pariah, shunned by all, often forced to live in camps removed from populated areas.  Jesus had no tolerance for leprosy either, but he had compassion for the victims.  Rather than shun them, He healed them.

Do we really believe that healing is His will for today?  If His compassion was universal then, it still is today.  Perhaps if we did not struggle so mightily in believing that for ourselves, we would be more driven to minister to others...

He was willing to heal.  He still is... through us

He desired to heal.  He still does... through us

It was His passion.  It should be ours

It was His mission.  It is ours too:

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (John 20:21 KJV)

His compassion brought comfort

Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. (Luk 7:12-14 KJV)

He comforted those in sorrow.  He did not offer pep talks, or false Cheer.  No empty cliche's, or awkward platitudes.  He brought only Truth, and He brought life.  Do we bring life into situations?  Do we speak life to people, or do we tend to speak destruction?  Yet more sobering questions…

His compassion was un-biased

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, (Luke 10:33 KJV)

The back-story here is Jesus’ famous parable of the Good Samaritan.  I believe it is no accident that Jesus used a Samaritan as the central figure in this illustration.  His critics had often referred to Him in an uncharitable fashion, as a Samaritan.  He had, after all, been raised in Nazareth, and based His ministry in Capernaum of Galilee.  Jews in those days did not view Samaritans with the milk of human kindness.  Racial prejudice is no new thing in human history, and was alive and operational in Jesus’ time.  Yet it was one of these ‘dogs’ that ministered healing to a Jewish man whilst others ‘of his kind’ shunned him.

Jesus was unconcerned with racial boundaries.  He touched those in need, often breaching social taboos.

In the story, this outland benefactor gave of Himself, not only financially, but of His time and talent.  He became personally involved despite the fact that He didn't have to.  He embraced the victim of a horrible crime, administered first aid, using his own supplies.  He transported his charge at his own expense, on his own animal, to an inn.  There, he paid from his own purse for the man’s lodging.

He committed Himself to someone else's future.  He promised the innkeeper to return after a time, and check on the man.  If there was more time required, he vowed to pay more, whatever it took to see the man restored.

No wonder this parable has touched such a chord among so many throughout the generations.  Many, many people know little to nothing about the life of Jesus, yet know something of the parable of the Good Samaritan.  There must be a reason why so many hospitals are named for this ageless example of Christ-like compassion.

As I wrap up this rather lengthy post, I would like to conclude by referring you to yet another blog post.  This is written by a very talented and insightful young lady in my church.  It is called The Kingdom Journal, and in it she sums up rather eloquently all the things that God has been placing in my heart as I prepared this installment of The Berean Report.

I hope you will read it, as well as join me again for the next post.

And remember, keep on asking yourself, “What would Jesus do?”.

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