Written by: Tim Wood

“A man with leprosy came to Jesus and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing you can make me clean.’ Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!”  (Mark 1:41)

Jesus served people out of a heart filled with compassion. When He touches this man, who has leprosy he was filled with compassion. The term compassion has its linguistic roots in the Latin terms com (with) and pati (suffering).  Jesus felt the suffering of other people. The Greek word for compassion carries the idea that he felt the sorrow of others in his gut. He is moved with compassion when he sees people who are lost.  “When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).  Jesus connected with people in pain. When he saw groups yearning for his teaching, “he had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14). Christ sees two blind men and is moved to heal them in compassion (Matthew 20:34).

All these examples of Christ’s compassion have two things in common. First, Jesus notices the people around him. This tells us that compassion is only possible when we are attuned to others. If we’re absorbed in our own feelings, problems, worries and desires, we will overlook the needs of those God puts in our path and ignore the opportunity to help them.

Second, Jesus responds to people, instead of reacting to them. He listens to the ten lepers rather than being irritated that they’re interrupting his conversation (Luke 17:12-19). He takes time to speak with the woman who touches the hem of his garment, instead of simply chastising her for lacking appropriate boundaries (Matthew 9:20).

Practically speaking, we have compassion when we set aside indifference and connect with those who are in pain – seeing them and responding to them. This is the first step in their healing.

Ask God to help you see others who are in pain. Ask God to help you respond to them with compassion. Lord, give us compassion like Jesus.