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So, every once in a while I cycle back through the gospels of the New Testament. I can never get enough of Jesus and His teachings. Each time I read, He shows me something new. Something I missed the last time I read it.
Yesterday morning, I was in Matthew chapter 14. The story finds us with the beheading of John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin.
[Back story: Herod the Tetrarch beheaded John at his wife, Herodias', request. Herodias was the former wife of Herod's brother, Philip. Herod seduced her and Herodias gladly accepted. John the Baptist was very vocal about this illegitimate marriage, and Herodias did not like it. So, she had John beheaded. Served on a silver platter and all.]
Is this a soap opera or what?!
When Jesus heard of his cousin's death, he went to a solitary place to mourn. Can you imagine what must have been going through his mind? He must have been grieving, sad, angry, confused, maybe even a bit fearful. I don't know, but I know He must have taken it very hard and deep knowing His character.
As soon as Jesus arrived to His "solitary " place, a crowd was already there. They must have followed Him and raced to get there before He could. The crowd numbered over 5,000.
When Jesus saw them, this is what happened: "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed the sick." Matthew 14:14
What? So, Jesus is tired, depleted, sad, desperate to be alone...
but He sees the crowd and ministers to them.
Not only does He heal them and teach them, He then feeds all 5,000 plus of them with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread.
Jesus had compassion for them.
Let's take a look at the Greek meaning of this word. It will open or eyes to a whole new level of understanding.
The Greek word is: splagchnizomai--a Verb. 'the inward parts,' especially the nobler entrails – the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys
So, basically, this kind of compassion is not an adjective describing how Jesus felt, but a verb.
A verb that ran straight through His insides.
We have all felt this kind of compassion at some time or another.
There is a picture on my phone that I look at about once a week. It moves me to this kind of compassion. It shakes me to my core. I feel the warmth of the electrical current of splagchnizomai running straight through my veins when I look at it.
It's a picture of the the little boy, Aylan (3 years old) who was washed up at sea when his family tried to escape the wars raging in Syria. His brother, Galip, died as well. Galip was 5 years old. As well as their mother. Their father was the only survivor.
The family was trying to get to safety and freedom, but lost their two children in the process.
I look at Aylan's little shoes. His red shirt. His navy blue shorts. I wonder if he picked his little clothes out that day, or if his momma helped him. I think about him face down in the water. I wonder if he suffered. Did he see his brother die first? Was he scared?
I think about his father. I think how can he go on another day? Losing...both of his children.....and his wife.
This family never, ever escapes my thoughts.
The picture of Aylan's lifeless body, face down in the water, is saved on my phone because I have a tendency to get numb. Numb to what's happening around me. Numb to the pain of others. Numb to the suffering of others.
Numbness is a condition that affects all of us if we are not intentional about slicing right through the numbness with a knife of compassion.
I refuse to be numb to those around me. I refuse.
Looking at Aylan's picture unnerves me. It causes all my senses and feelings to come alive with compassion. It wrecks me.
Do you want to know what separates Christians from other religions of this world...I believe with all of my heart that it is COMPASSION.
Jesus was the living breathing example of compassion.
Compassion moves. It doesn't sit idly by.
Compassion acts. It doesn't just hope that things will improve.
Compassion could care less what color someone is, what religion someone is, what political party someone is, or what language someone speaks...
Compassion MOVES. Compassion TOUCHES. Compassion FEELS.
Compassion breaks through the ice of numbness and opens the wound of unconditional love for others.
Compassion is not just lifeless words on a computer screen...compassion is tangible.
Compassion doesn't hide cowardly behind big talk and social media forums...compassion is face to face, heart to heart, and person to person.
Compassion puts itself aside and ministers to those around them that need healing. Just like Jesus did when he went to that "solitary" place.
Compassion knows that healing is the result of compassion.
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Compassion never rests. Ever.
Compassion is the opposite of hatred.
Compassion understands that we can be different, and still help each other, minister to each other, and pray for each other.
When we pray, let's not just pray for our schools to be safe from terrorists, let's pray that ALL schools in the world will be kept safe.
When we pray, let's not just pray for our church to be safe from harm and danger, but that ALL of our churches in the world will be kept safe.
When we pray, let's not just pray for our town to be protected from evil and terror, but that ALL towns will be protected from evil and terror.
When we pray, let's not just pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who are hurting, but for ALL of our brothers and sisters who so desperately need the compassion and love of Christ.
Oh, y'all, we need a compassion revival. We MUST wake up from numbness and come ALIVE with COMPASSION.
Our families need our compassion.
Our communities need our compassion.
Our churches need our compassion.
Our country needs our compassion.
Our world needs our compassion.
We must follow Jesus' example...
So healing can take place.