Jesus shows God’s compassion

14 August 2013

Gateshead Construction

Compassion is one of those words that no one ever criticises; we would all like there to be more compassion in the world. Where does that hunger for compassion come from?

Compassion is a major theme in the Bible; God is frequently described as a ‘gracious and compassionate God’, who calls his people to ‘love their neighbour’, be concerned for ‘justice and mercy’, and so on. Interestingly, the word compassion literally means to ‘suffer with’, a concept which reaches a new height (or depth) in the suffering of Jesus in the place of sinners, on a Roman cross. If Jesus is God in the flesh, then to understand God’s compassion we need to look at Jesus.

In last Sunday’s passage, we saw glimpses of Jesus’ compassion in three profound ways. Firstly, Jesus has compassion on the crowd who have come out to listen to him in a desolate spot, and are now exceedingly hungry. That compassion gives way to his famous ‘feeding of the five thousand’, a miracle of creation: Jesus makes extra food out of nothing. Secondly, Jesus has compassion on his disciples by coming to them as they struggle on the stormy sea. This again is a miracle which only the creator could do: not only does Jesus walk on water – something which only God ever does in the Old Testament, he ‘passes by’ them and declares (literally), ‘I AM’. For those familiar with the Old Testament, this is heavily reminiscent of God appearing to Moses or Elijah or Job. However, the disciples miss this; their preoccupied hearts are hardened.

Thirdly, Jesus has compassion to heal the sick that are brought to him. The Great Shepherd who feeds the crowd is also the Great Physician who heals the sick. The message is overwhelming: come to Jesus, because he is compassionate. He cares for you more than you care for yourself. In fact, the question isn’t, ‘is Jesus compassionate?’, but rather ‘will I come to him?’

This blog post was written by Dan Martin.