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Jesus’ Compassion

Stormy sea and the words of John Newton - How sweet the name of Jesus sounds ... illustrating his compassion

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:36

Jesus saw the pain, the outcasts, those without peace, and the brokenness as He went from place to place. Ezekiel heard from the Lord hundreds of years before, reporting a similar prophecy, God’s people without good shepherds:

‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 

Ezekiel 34:2-5

With compassion, Jesus went about doing good. Matthew records ten miracles in just two chapters fulfilling the prophecy in Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities
    and bore our diseases.”

Isaiah 53:4

Jesus ministers to the marginalized.

  • He heals a man with leprosy. In healing him, Jesus reaches out to touch the man – which by the law would defile Him. But Jesus’ touch reverses that process bringing cleansing and healing.
  • He heals the servant of a Roman soldier, a Gentile. Again, the Gentiles were unclean to Jews but this centurion was particularly sensitive, knowledgeable about what he was aksing Jesus to do. And he showed remarkable faith.
  • Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law. Women were not held in high esteem, others might have just ignored her fever. But Jesus attended to her illness rebuking the fever.

Lepers, Gentiles, women all lived in the margin of society. The Pharisees of the day would have little to do with them, yet they were the appointed shepherds! In Wiersbe’s commentary, he writes that Pharisees would often pray: “I give thanks that I am a man and not a woman, a Jew and not a Gentile, a free-man and not a slave.”

Jesus ministers peace to the anxious.

  • The disciples are in a boat with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. It is not unusual for storms to blow up suddenly. When a storm howled, Jesus slept peacefully. The disciples, though, were anxious, fearful. And they were amazed when the storm obeyed Jesus’ words.
  • Jesus expelled the demons from two men freeing them from social anathema, mental illness.
  • Jesus forgave the sins of the paralyzed man. While He also healed hIm, forgiveness of sin was the greater blessing!

We see Jesus’ power over nature, spiritual powers, and the physical body in these events. We also see the Prince of Peace in action.

Jesus ministers hope to the hopeless.

  • The woman who had been bleeding for twelve years was hopeless. She had tried doctors with no success. Her illness caused her to be unclean, unable to engage in normal social interactions. Jesus healed her renewing her hope!
  • The synagogue leader’s daughter had died, imagine his hopelessness. But he asked Jesus to heal her and he did. Interestingly, Jesus took the girl by the hand, again an act of uncleanness, but in this case, He raises her from the dead!

There were other miracles, other healings. 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. And then Matthew records a note about His compassion. Jesus says the harvest is great and that we should pray for workers! Sneak peek … Jesus sends His disciples out in the next part of Matthew’s story!

These miracles compel me to be kind to those who may want to know Jesus but are timid, unsure, unclean, outcasts in our society. How can I love well so as to draw them in close to Him?

Shackled by a heavy burden
‘Neath a load of guilt and shame
Then the hand of Jesus touched me
And now I am no longer the same.

Since I’ve met this blessed savior
Since he’s cleansed and made me whole
I will never cease to praise him
I’ll shout it while eternity rolls.

He touched, oh, he touched me
And oh the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened, and now I know
He touched me, and made me whole.

Bill Gaither
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