Hemorrhaging the Compassion of Christ
One day, Jesus received news that his older cousin, John the Baptizer, had been beheaded by Herod the tetrarch. His grief must have been immense. As any of us might do when hearing of the death of a loved one, Jesus wanted to be alone.
“When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself.” (Matthew 14:13a)
As a human, Jesus needed to process the news of His cousin’s death. He would not be given the chance to do this.
“But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.” (Matthew 14:13b)
Aside from His time in the boat, our Lord had no time to himself to grieve. Needy people tend to only think about themselves and their own need. Whether it was that they heard of John’s murder or that they heard Jesus would be in Bethsaida (Luke 9:10), their need was more important to them than was Jesus’ need to hurt over the death of his cousin.
What would you do in a time like this? I know I would resent the multitude being there. My first reaction might be to lash out at them, send them away, or move on in hopes of being alone with my own thoughts and tears.
“And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and HE WAS MOVED WITH COMPASSION FOR THEM, and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14)
The Greek word translated here is “splagchnízomai” and it literally means that DEEP inside our Lord’s being He ached and yearned to address THEIR need.
That day, His compassion for them poured out in the form of physical healing. Then He met their need for food, multiplying the loaves and fishes and feeding 5-10 thousand people in one sitting.
Next, Jesus and His disciples moved on to the land of Gennesaret where He healed many. Here “the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus” (Matthew 15:1) to hassle Him. They used little nitpicky technicalities to try to trip Him up. Surely, they had heard of the death of John the Baptizer. Surely, they knew of Jesus’ relationship with him.
They did not care. They had no compassion within themselves so no compassion flowed out.
Jesus sets His grief aside and grapples with the scribes and Pharisees…men who were charged by God to care for people like Jesus did, but who, instead, attack Him in His time of mourning.
Next, Jesus and the disciples head to the region of Tyre and Sidon where he frees the demonized daughter of a Gentile woman from her tormentors. When has He had time to mourn? He hasn’t.
“Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there.” (Matthew 15:29)
It seems our Lord was still seeking a chance to process the death of His cousin John. He would not get this chance.
“Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus' feet, and He healed them.” (Matthew 15:30)
I’ve noticed that the multitudes never seem to approach Jesus and ask, “Is this a good time for you to address our needs?”. People in need of hope, freedom from demonic oppression, healing of physical or emotional wounds or diseases never seem to do that. They can’t. They are in pain and torment and that is about all they can see or think about.
Well, what about Jesus? What about HIS pain?
Why was He able to set aside His mourning for a while to deal with the needs of others who were before Him?
“Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, ‘I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.’” (Matthew 15:32)
Why was Jesus, in HIS own time of emotional need, able to look at these people and think about what THEY would need after their encounter with Him there on that mountainside?
At the time, Jesus was the ONLY human on the earth walking around indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus was, in His human body, FILLED with attributes of God such as love and compassion. Whenever Jesus had compassion on anyone the compassion of God flowed through Holy Spirit in His human spirit, out of Jesus and into the lives of whomever He loved that way that day.
What I find amazing and beautiful is that that very same Holy Spirit dwells inside the spirit of every true Christian. I don’t mean people who merely label themselves as Christians or even people who consider themselves to be Christians because they have always found themselves inside a church building on Sundays.
I’m talking about people who were truly born again.
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)
We, the born again, have dwelling inside us the very same Holy Spirit who poured out compassion and hope and love and joy through Jesus in His short time on the earth.
My question, then, is why do so many of us live as if the needs of others don’t really seem to matter to us?
Why do we prefer our little comfort zones instead of allowing ourselves to be uncomfortable for someone else’s sake? Why do we ignore pain and suffering in someone else? Why do we turn a blind eye to human trafficking, the horrors of the abortion mills, the hungry among us?
Why do we seem to rarely consider our brother and wonder, “Knowing what just happened to him, what would I need were I in his situation?” and why do we not automatically move toward addressing those needs?
Why aren’t we like our Lord in that way? Why aren’t we “Hemorrhaging the Compassion of Christ” everywhere we go?
For sure, there ARE many among who do serve others at their own expense, spending their lives for others. I know people who serve the homeless, volunteer in prison ministry or to go to foreign lands to bring the Gospel to the lost, feed hungry people, donate financially to the needs of strangers, help other people move, drive people where they need to go…always at their own expense.
These, though, seem to be the exceptions. So many of us leave this sort of thing to what we consider to be “ministry professionals”, an idea that is utterly absent from the New Testament.
Why aren’t we “Hemorrhaging the Compassion of Christ” everywhere we go?
I believe its because from the moment Adam died spiritually until now something insulates the human soul. The result is that, even if we become born again (walking and talking Temples of the Holy Spirit - 1 Corinthians 6:19), the ability to sense the compassion of Christ for others in our spiritually resurrected human spirits tends to not flow to our souls. We remain dispassionate, detached from our fellow man and his needs – perhaps even aloof. This must grieve the Father.
Meanwhile, Jesus NEVER changes.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
Dwelling, as He does, deep inside every Christian…Jesus STILL has compassion on those He encounters through us as we move through our lives. He still YEARNS to address our needs AND the needs of those around us.
When the Fall of Man occurred satan hurt mankind in many ways. One is that we became self-ish. It’s not that we’re “selfish” the way we generally think of that term; we’re quite simply VERY aware of our own soul hungers and thirsts. So, we are born always doing things to make sure we get those needs met…or to shield ourselves from the pain of failing to do so.
The Bible calls this the “flesh” or “self” or “sin nature” (depending on the Bible version). All this causes us to be isolated in the practical sense from others, even our brothers and sisters in Christ. It dulls our ability to interact with the Holy Spirit of Christ Who lives DEEP within our spirits. It numbs us to the passion Jesus has to address both our needs and the needs of those around us.
This, I believe, is why we aren’t “Hemorrhaging the Compassion of Christ” everywhere we go.
None of this has been written as in indictment against anyone. If it was, I would be as guilty as anyone else. What is the value in me or anyone else pointing a bony finger at someone and saying, “YOU FAILED!!!”? There is none.
However, there IS immense value in illuminating a problem that we cannot see so we will be aware of what is happening to and through us, and then presenting a solution. There IS a solution for this problem.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Will you join me in praying aloud that God will pierce whatever it is that insulates our souls from whatever He wants to initiate by HIS Holy Spirit from our human spirits, through our souls and then out of our human bodies and into the lives of the people we encounter?
"Father God, I invite You to pierce that divider between my soul and my spirit with Jesus. I long to experience everything You intended when You decided that YOUR Holy Spirit would live in my spirit. I want to partner with You, following and cooperating with You as You manifest the risen Christ through me everywhere I go. Lord Jesus, I will follow You. Holy Spirit, flood my soul and guide me and teach me.
Lord God, I want to see what You see and feel what You feel. Please teach me how to listen to Your prompting and please protect me from the burden of being overwhelmed by the need I will see all around me because it is YOUR burden to bear. Keep me from trying to meet all those needs. I want to leave that decision to You.
Thank You, Father God, for trusting me to be the hands and feet of Jesus on the earth. I pray this in the beautiful name of Jesus. Amen.”
God’s Kingdom is all about the Lord’s influence flowing from His throne to the earth. All this happens through Christians who will partner with Him in this.
It seems to me that the world hungers to experience ALL His attributes – even if it is too ignorant and/or prideful to recognize or understand that need. Look around. It’s so evident that this mean, selfish world needs His wisdom, compassion, hope, joy, peace, healing, insight, love, understanding…His LIFE.
Jesus speaking: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b)
As I close this piece I would like to explain why I chose to use the word “Hemorrhaging” in the title when any other number of words might have fit.
This will be very simple.
“He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But HE WAS PIERCED THROUGH for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3-5 - NASB)
In order for our transgressions to be washed away, something was “pierced through” and something was “crushed”; it was Jesus Himself. The discomfort was worth the result: a way for us to be with Him for eternity…a way for us to be rescued, delivered, and restored. A way for us to be empowered to walk with Him and touch the lives of others with His compassion. The piercing of the divider between our soul and spirit is similar.
The world needs the compassion of Christ but, in reality, it needs ALL His attributes. It needs His love, wisdom, correction, guidance, stability, joy, hope, discernment, trust of the Father, reliance on the Spirit, and so many more. Compassion, though, seems to be so rare in this mean world that it often can become the unexpected and delightful bridge between two people – separated just moments before it appeared.
May we all “bleed out” the compassion of Christ…AND the love, the joy, the hope, the wisdom, and the discernment of Jesus everywhere we go.
Pastor Mike McInerney
Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.
© February 25, 2021
(for use with permission)