Jesus’ Compassion

Jesus Christ will return to the earth as the all-powerful conquering King. He is also loving and compassionate, and He wants us to have compassion as well.

Jesus Christ is the conquering King who will save the world from self-destruction. He is, however, much more than that. He is our elder brother and our gentle shepherd who loves us.

This is the way we should perceive Jesus Christ. He is involved in our lives and wants only the best for us.

The Bible, our guide for living, tells us that God is gentle and compassionate:

  • “He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and full of compassion” (Psalm 111:4).
  • “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy” (Psalm 145:8).

Jesus’ example

One of the best ways to consider the gentleness of our Savior is to look at the things He did. His life on the earth is the example for how we should live our lives.

  • “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
  • “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

What examples did Jesus Christ set for us? What were His deeds when He lived as a man? Let’s look at a few examples.

Jesus heals a leper

While Jesus and His followers were in Galilee, a leper approached Him and asked Jesus to heal him of his horrible disease. We read the account in Mark 1:40-42:

“Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’

“Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.”

Jesus knew that leprosy can be contagious and that even touching a leper can be dangerous. But Jesus was moved with compassion for the man. He touched him and completely healed him of the leprosy. (Read more about the miracles Jesus performed in our article “Miracles of Jesus.”)

Jesus raises a widow’s son

When Jesus and His disciples were in the area of Galilee, they went to the city of Nain. As they approached the city, they encountered a funeral procession. The funeral was for a man who was the only son of a widow. He had died, leaving no one to love, care for and support his mother. Luke 7:12-15 describes what happened:

Even in His great pain, agony and humiliation at the end of His physical life, Jesus gave compassion and comfort to the man. Jesus was selfless and compassionate.

“And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.”

Jesus saw how terrible this situation was and felt compassion for the widow. He wasn’t too busy or preoccupied to notice someone in need. Instead, because of His compassion for her, He raised the man from the dead and presented him to her.

“Moved with compassion”

John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin, and it is possible that Jesus and John were friends growing up. As well, Jesus knew that John’s life was dedicated to holy purposes. In Matthew 11:11 Jesus said there was no man greater than John.

So when Jesus learned that King Herod had ordered John to be killed, He must have felt profound grief and pain. He tried to be alone for a while to grieve, but the crowd of people followed Him.

“When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:13-14).

Instead of being irritated, Jesus looked on the people with compassion. He abandoned His desire to be alone and healed their sick. Jesus was unselfish and compassionate.

Jesus heals a man who was blind from birth

Another time Jesus healed a man who was blind from birth.

Jesus “spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing” (John 9:6-7).

All this occurred on a Sabbath, and when the Pharisees learned of it, they put the man out of the synagogue. This was a very serious penalty.

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’

“He answered and said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’

“And Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.’

“Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!’ And he worshiped Him” (John 9:35-38).

Jesus had compassion and gave comfort to the man.

Jesus heals two blind men

Jesus had empathy and compassion on strangers. Matthew tells us that as Jesus was leaving Jericho, “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!’

“Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!’

“So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’

“They said to Him, ‘Lord, that our eyes may be opened.’ So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him” (Matthew 20:29-34).

Jesus shows compassion to the thief on the cross

During the crucifixion, one of the men also being crucified “blasphemed [Jesus], saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’

“But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’

“Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise’” (Luke 23:39-43; for an explanation of the timing of this promise, see “What Happened to the Thief on the Cross?”).

Even in His great pain, agony and humiliation at the end of His physical life, Jesus gave compassion and comfort to the man. Jesus was selfless and compassionate.

Compassion throughout the Bible

Compassion has always been part of God’s character, and so it is taught in the Old Testament as well. Moses wrote of having compassion on the needy.

“When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands” (Deuteronomy 24:19). We are to be compassionate to the people who need help.

Moses wrote more about being compassionate a few verses earlier, placing limitations on how one should treat a poor person who gave his garment as collateral for a loan.

“You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the LORD your God” (verse 13).

And notice, we are not to just agree to loan back the garment if the debtor asks. We are to be so concerned for him that we are to make sure that he has protection against the cold. We are to show care and concern for him.

It is obvious how God feels about this. He is compassionate. He wants us to understand that having an attitude of gentleness is much more important than succeeding in a business deal.

In addition to Jesus’ example, the New Testament gives us direct commands to be compassionate people. Peter says: “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8).

Our Savior is mighty and strong. When He comes to the earth again, He will use that strength in a powerful way. However, He deals with us with compassion and tenderness. These are attributes that we are to develop also.

Let’s make them part of the way we live—part of who we are. Let’s follow Jesus’ example of compassion and gentleness.

Study more about Jesus’ character and how to follow His example in our “Walk as He Walked” series.

About the Author

Ken McIntosh

Ken McIntosh is a member of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association, who attends the Fort Worth, Texas, congregation.

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