The Compassion of Christ

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

 (Matthew 9: 35-36 NIV)

pic of crowds in jesus day

When Jesus began His ministry, He would go from town to town and from village to village with His disciples ministering to the many needs of the large crowds who would gather to see Him… to hear Him… and to those who just greatly desired to be near Him.  Many extensive needs were represented within these crowds, and these crowds consisted of the many multitudes of downcast and distressed people of Israel… of the ordinary… and of the simple… and of all those soiled from life… 

The disciples of Christ were weak and ordinary men, much like us… actually…they were just like us… for they also were sinners and suffered many great failures and sorrows in life.  They enjoyed being with their Rabbi…their Master… when He was popular among the crowds but all abandoned Him when the crowds would disappear and the authorities grew ever more hostile. When these disciples joined Christ to minister to the needs of the crowds and evangelize and teach the crowds of people who would gather, they would gaze out at the crowds of multitudes, and see exactly what we would see, the faces of many people who would gather near to hear and see their Rabbi speak… speak of Truth… speak of Hope… and speak of Love.  When His disciples looked out into the crowds, they were only able to see the multitude of faces…the vast multitude of many different and scattered faces… only distinguishing the faces from the young and the old…from the suffering and of the sorrowful…from the faces of the sick and of those faces ravaged by debilitating disease.

oldwoman

“She said to herself, “If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed.”

 (Matthew 9: 21 NIV)

When Jesus looked out among the crowds, He was able to see so much more… so much more than His ordinary and weak disciples… for He was the only One who saw everything.  And He knew each person by name…  He saw their entire life story in a mere moment of fleeting time… and He knew all of their personal life-long sufferings and struggles.  Christ knew of all their past sins, of great sins and of small.   He knew just how far each one traveled… to see Him… to just be near Him…the exact distance in miles… or perhaps in feet.  He knew exactly when each ate their last meal… perhaps for some it was just earlier in the day and for many more… perhaps even longer… maybe even a day or two before.  He knew who among them was hungry…. Just who among them had a great desire for the bread of Life. Christ also knew who among them was thirsty and parched… whose great thirst caused them to only be quenched and satisfied by the water of everlasting Life.

There is a woman in the crowd who has suffered uterine bleeding for twelve years, a debilitating hemorrhage which has also caused her severe social and spiritual consequences BUT… she believes in the One… her Messiah….her Lord…. The Son of the Living God….and she simply desires to reach out and gently touch the edge of His cloak… for she is unable to face Him for the shame of her condition must be severe…so she reaches out and is able to touch the mere fringe of His cloak… and Christ turns…and He lovingly looks at her… and His compassion is great…His compassion… is over-flowing… and He affectionately calls her “daughter ”…… for He knows her intimately…she is His child… and He is able to see all of her past sins…all her past sufferings… all her sorrows in life… and of her long-suffering sickness…and she is immediately healed of her bleeding simply for her great act of faith.

old-man-laughing

“And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.”

(Matthew 9:27 ESV)

Also in the crowd, Christ notices the two blind men standing there…for they were desperately… in their darkened blindness….trying to follow the One… and Christ knew them by name….  He knew of all their past sorrows and sufferings, and of their past sins… of great sins and of small… but they believed in Him…their Messiah… and their Lord.  For they even refer and cry out for Him by His Messianic Title… “Son of David”…as they continue to follow the One.  Once inside… He asks them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”….and they believe…they truly believe…. then Christ merely touches their eyes…He touches their eyes with His hands…and His compassion is great…His compassion is abundant and over-flowing… for He always touches the blind to heal them …which is so very compassionate and thoughtful to their condition….for they could not see Him due to their blindness… but they could certainly feel His touch…. and their sight is immediately restored…. And their eyes are open wide.  And they were both healed from their blindness simply by their great act of faith.

The Gospels teach us that Jesus was moved with deep emotion for ordinary people, especially for all those living in darkness, sorrow, suffering, and in deep sin.  Jesus looked through non-judgmental eyes at a fallen and broken world.  He knew their life stories, and all He has always remained insistent on is that they have faith…faith in Him… and faith in Him to transform…

Right now, do you feel you cannot approach Jesus because of past sin or past sorrow?  He knows your life story, every sordid detail…every failed attempt… every suffering endured…every sorrow experienced….When you finally decide to approach Him…He asks only for your faithfulness, not for sinless perfection…

“Every Christian generation tries to dim the blinding brightness of its meaning because the Gospel seems too good to be true.  We think salvation belongs to the proper and pious, to those who stand at a safe distance from the back alleys of existence, clucking their judgments at those who have been soiled by life.”

–Brennan Manning

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