As [Jesus] drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. (Luke 7:12-15)
In many of the miracles Jesus did, as recorded throughout the gospels, we see Jesus have compassion right before we read about Him performing a miracle.
This word compassion is so complex it has different definitions depending on which dictionary you use, because it really is hard to fully put into words the whole encompassing definition of compassion.
- Oxford Dictionary: Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
- Miriam-Webster Dictionary: Sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
- Cambridge Dictionary: A strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for the suffering or bad luck of others and a wish to help them.
In these English definitions, they label this word as a noun. Yet in the Greek, this word is a verb, it is active, and indicates the feeling of being moved to compassion. In the days of Jesus this word would have been related as a feeling deep within your bowels (which was where they used to think love was in the body). It is a very deep emotion, that not only is a feeling but a feeling that stirs action on behalf of others.
As Jesus went into this town and saw the funeral procession for a young man whose mother would be left alone and have no one left to care for her, Jesus felt a deep sympathetic feeling towards her and wanted to help. Doesn’t it make you wonder what would have happened had Jesus not had compassion on her? Would her son have been raised from the dead? Would this woman have died for lack of care?
All we know is that Jesus did have compassion on her and He did raise her son, and the result was people glorifying God and spreading the word of God’s wonderful work.
Are You Compassionate?
Different personalities may have a tendency to be more or less compassionate, but this is a trait you can exercise and grow in regardless. The root word of compassion in the Greek describes an inward affection and tender mercy – love. This is the very fruit of the Spirit so even if it’s not a more natural tendency for you, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, you can be like Jesus in having compassion for others.
With compassion so often being a precursor to miracles, we should desire to have compassion for others the way Jesus did, and then by faith be available to be used in whatever way God wills to use us. It could be supernatural miracles, it could be more of the natural – being a listening ear, giving godly advice, helping in a practical way. Either way, it’s being used by God and that’s part of our workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
Don’t be afraid to ask God to help you see people the way He sees them, having compassion for them in their times of need. It’s much easier to judge or criticize others when they’re down, but by purposing to have compassion for people, you will not only see amazing works, but you will spark others to glorify God!
I wrote this song during the pandemic when starting to feel a little too comfortable with isolation. I was convicted with the realization that I can’t have compassion on others and be the hands and feet of God if I’m not walking, talking, serving, and loving like Jesus. In order to do this, we need Jesus to teach us. I hope this song is encouraging to you!