Everywhere Jesus went during his earthly ministry, people mobbed him. They pushed and pulled, always wanting something from him. For instance, there was the woman with medical problems who spent all her money on doctors and still was sick. And Jairus, a leader of a synagogue, came to him because his daughter was seriously ill.
So many wanted a touch from the Savior. But Jesus saw their deepest need. He saw where they were hurting the most. He saw behind the facade, behind the defense mechanisms that people put up. He saw the real cry of their hearts. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. And He had compassion on them.
Anyone who wants God to use them in any capacity must first develop something called compassion.
We see this pattern of compassion throughout the ministry of Jesus. We see it when he went to Samaria to speak with the woman at the well. The Bible tells us that he needed to go to Samaria (see John 4:4 NKJV).
Normally Jews didn’t go to Samaria, because there was a deep prejudice between Samaritans and Jews that had been passed from generation to generation. But Jesus needed to go to Samaria. In spite of his busy schedule and all that he had to do, he knew there was a lonely, burned-out, hurting woman who would be waiting at that well. And as he walked into town, there she was, drawing her water alone in the heat of the day.
She was an outcast. This woman had lived an immoral life and had been married and divorced five times. She also was living with a man at the time. She probably was a very beautiful woman and thought that men would fill the void in her life. No doubt she had been used, abused and pushed aside.
When Jesus walked up to the well, there were a lot of things that he could have said. He was God after all. He knew everything about her.
But Jesus saw what was really troubling her. He knew the reason she had been involved in all those relationships. Deep down inside she was empty. She thought that sex would fill that void. She thought men would fill that void. Thus, Jesus appealed to her spiritual thirst. It was compassion. He saw behind the mask.
Then there was the man named Zacchaeus, who was a tax collector. He had become very wealthy. Most likely he made a profit by taking advantage of the misery of others and skimming off the top of what he collected.
When Jesus came to Zacchaeus’ hometown of Jericho, there was that ever-present crowd, pushing and pulling and grabbing. But as Jesus walked along, he looked up and saw Zacchaeus sitting in a tree. Now, he could have said, “Hey, you! You’re that tax collector who rips people off, aren’t you?” Jesus knew it and could have said it.
Instead, Jesus said, “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today” (Luke 19:5 NLT). Jesus did not rebuke Zacchaeus or his sin. In fact, Jesus said that Zacchaeus was lost (see Luke 19:10). And in the original language, the word Jesus used for “lost” means something that it is broken but still has value.
I hate to throw things away. My wife will throw anything and everything away, and on more than one occasion, I have gone through the trash trying to find something. If I have something that breaks, I don’t want to throw it out, because I think it might start working again. Or I might need a part off it to fix something later. I hang on to things because they seem to have value.
Zacchaeus was valuable, but he also was broken. Jesus saw what he really needed and appealed to that.
Sometimes Christians view non-Christians as enemies. We think, “Those sinners! Look at what they’re doing! Look at the lifestyle they’ve chosen!” But behind that sin is an empty, searching, lost person whom God loves. And we need to have compassion for them.
Compassion overflowed from Jesus’ life. He always was moved by the needs of people. When he saw Mary and Martha weeping because their brother Lazarus died, the Bible says that he was “deeply troubled” (John 11:33 NLT). As he watched them weeping over the loss of their brother, his heart went out to them. He was in anguish too. He hurt for them and with them. And he wept.
Think of all the pain and anguish Jesus was in as he hung on the cross and the incredible, excruciating pain rippled up and down his beaten, bloodied body. Yet in spite of all of that pain and anguish, what did he pray for first? He prayed for the people who did that to him, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NLT).
A criminal who was being crucified next to Jesus appealed to him, and he answered, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (verse 43 NLT).
When Jesus looked down and saw his mother standing next to his disciple John, he said, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And to John he said, “Here is your mother” (John 19:26–27 NLT). In other words, “John, take care of my mom.”
Jesus was always thinking of others. To sum it up in two words, Jesus cared. And he still cares. He cares for us when we are going through hardships, when we are facing challenges.
In the same way, if we want to be used by God in any capacity, this must be first and foremost in our minds and hearts. Not obligation. Not mere duty. And not guilt. We must have a God-given burden for people.
This world is getting darker, and the only hope for our country is a spiritual awakening. Politicians won’t turn our country around. The only hope for America is a spiritual awakening. Time is short. God can use you to go out and make a difference.
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