Having Jesus' Compassion

Having Jesus' Compassion

Calvin Lashway

July 2011

As Jesus’ disciples we are to follow the example of our compassionate Lord. Whose compassion was deeper then just feeling sorry for, or concerned about someone. Jesus showed compassion by His actions. In his Gospel, Matthew gives us several examples of Christ's compassion. By looking at these examples we will learn how to be compassionate followers of Jesus.


Traveling Through Galilee (Matthew 9:35-10:4) - As Jesus travels throughout Galilee teaching and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing the sick. He sees the crowds who gather around Him, and has “compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus says to the disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:35-38 All scriptures quoted are from the New King James Version). Jesus' compassion for the crowd doesn't stop with voicing concern, and asking the disciples to pray for spiritual shepherds and laborers. The story continues in chapter ten, with Jesus showing His compassion for the physical and spiritual well-being of the people; by sending the twelve apostles throughout Galilee. Commanding them to go to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons” (Matthew 10:6-8).

As Jesus' modern disciples, does our compassion for the lost sheep of this world move us to help those in physical and spiritual need? All of us can pray for more laborers to help in this spiritual harvest. While praying, ask God to show us, as laborers, what we should do. Everyone of us has different skills, talents and abilities we can us in spreading the kingdom message.

Feeding Five Thousand (Matthew 14:13-21) - After Jesus hears of the execution of John the Baptist by Herod the tetrarch. He takes the disciples by “boat to a secluded place” where they can be alone. But the people hear where they are going and follow them on foot. When arriving at their destination, Jesus and the disciples are met by a large crowd of people (Matthew 14:13-14). What is Jesus’ reaction to finding these people waiting for Him? Does he express exasperation at having His plans for solitude, thwart by this throng of people? No. On seeing the crowd, Jesus is “moved with compassion for them,” and beginnings healing their sick (Matthew 14:14). According to the Gospel of Mark's account of this event. When Jesus comes ashore and sees the large crowd, He is "moved with compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34). We see another expression of Jesus’ compassion later in the day, when he performers a miracle by feeding “five thousand men . . . besides women and children” with five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:15-21).

Jesus’ compassion for these people leads him to sacrifice the time He and the disciples need for solitude. Jesus does this to help alleviate the physical and spiritual needs of others. He heals their sick, teaches them God’s truth, and feeds them. What about us, do we have the compassion to give up some of our time, to help others in spiritual and physical need?

Feeding Four Thousand (Matthew 15:29-38) - Not long after the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus and His disciples leave Galilee for the Mediterranean coastal “region of Tyre and Sidon” (Matthew 15:21). According to Marks account, Jesus “entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden” (Mark 7:24). Once again Jesus’ desire to be alone with His disciples doesn't work out. A Gentile women from the area finds were they are staying and begins imploring Jesus to heal her daughter, which He does (Matthew 15:21-28). After healing the women’s daughter, Jesus leaves "the region of Tyre and Sidon." Going "through the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee” He “went up on the mountain and sat down there” (Mark 7:31, Matthew 15:29).

The Decapolis is a predominately Gentile region, south and southeast of the Sea of Galilee. There on this mountain, “great multitudes come to” Jesus with their “lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many” other sick people, and He heals them. The Gentiles marvel at these miracles, glorifying the God of Israel (Matthew 15:30-31). After three days Jesus wants to send the people home. But, by this time they have eaten all their food. Jesus in His compassion for the multitude doesn’t “want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way” (verse 32). Like the earlier occasion with the 5000. Jesus blesses a few loaves of bread and fish and distributes the food to the crowd of “four thousand men, besides women and children.” and “they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left (verses 33-38).

Jesus’ compassion expressed in healing and feeding a group of people who were predominately Gentiles is an example we should follow. Racial and ethnic prejudices were just as common then, as they are today. Jesus in his earthly ministry set us an example of showing compassion for those in need, regardless their ethnicity or culture.

Healing Two Blind Men (Matthew 20:29-34) - As Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem, knowing that He is heading towards His own death. He passes through the city of Jericho, and as He is leaving “two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!’” (Matthew 20:29-30). On hearing their cry for mercy, Jesus stops, an asks them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They reply “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So Jesus moved with compassion “touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him” (verses 31-34).

Jesus knows death awaits His arrival in Jerusalem, yet, He takes time to stop and ask about the needs of two blind men. His compassion for these men moved Him to put aside His own concerns. He just doesn't feel sorry for them, giving them a hollow blessing, such as: “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled” (James 2:14). Jesus' compassion leads Him to restore their sight.

As Jesus’ followers, compassion for the needs and sufferings of others should lead us to action. Unfortunately there may be limits to what we can do. We may not be able to heal the sick like Jesus. But we can help someone who is sick. We may not be able to miraculously feed the hungry like Jesus. But, we can help bring food to the hungry. We may not be able to teach like Jesus. But we can go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe everything Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).

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