Summary: What does it mean to be compassionate like Christ? Find out in this message from Luke 7.
“Compassionate Like Christ”
Aren’t you glad God has compassion, and heals, restores and forgives? God’s compassion is overwhelming, isn’t it?
In fact, would you say that word with me – compassion! Now look to the person to your right and say it…now to your left…nice! By now everyone should be feeling a little more sensitive, right? I hope so!
I’d like too focus your attention on that word today, for it is a clear theme of Luke 7. No doubt our passage today focuses on that word – compassion. So would you take out your Bible and locate Luke 7. I’m going to center in on the story that begins in 7:11. As we read, notice the following:
7:12 “the only son” – could it be he related to the mother’s sorrow since he was God’s only son? Interesting to say the least!
7:14 “touched the open coffin.” A ceremonially defiling act, normally. Jesus graphically illustrated how impervious He was to such defilements. When he touched the coffin, its defilement did not taint Him; rather, His power immediately dispelled the presence of all death and defilement (see notes on v. 39; 8:44). This was the first of 3 times Jesus raised people from the dead (cf. 8:49–56; John 11). Verse 22 implies that Christ also raised others who are not specifically mentioned.
7:15 “began to talk” – this was proof positive the boy was alive!
7:15 “gave him back to his mother” – the boy was a gift – twice!
But the best phrase in this passage is in 7:13. In fact, here’s what I want you to do: Circle the phrase in 7:13, “his heart went out to her.” This is actually one word in the Greek language – in the verb form it is σπλαγχνίζομαι [splagchnizomai ], and in the noun form σπλάγχνον [splagchnon].
It is used 23 times in the NT – There are 12 occurrences of the verb form (“have compassion” seven times, and “be moved with compassion” five times), and 11 occurrences of the noun form (AV translates as “bowels” nine times, “inward affection” once, and “tender mercy” once).
At the root of this word is splen (probably an early Greek root for the “spleen.”) Why? In that culture, the bowels were regarded as the seat of emotions. For Greeks, the center of violent passions, but for the Hebrews, the center of the more tender affections, especially kindness, benevolence, compassion. In fact, Paul used this same image when he talked about his “bowels of compassion.”
The point of this word is that true compassion – genuine, heartfelt empathy – is something that starts down deep. And this story in Luke 7 shows us that biblical compassion begins in the gut, wells up in the throat, flows out of the face, and works its way through our hands!
This is exactly what Jesus did – look at the progression in the passage: Jesus saw. Felt. Spoke. Acted. That’s compassion!
This type of pity – compassion – from our Lord shouldn’t surprise us, for compassion is one of the great character qualities of the Godhead! (And we should be glad!) It should bring us to a place of awe and worship!