Summary: When Jesus saw the leper, the blind, the paralyzed, and the deaf, He entered into their sufferings; had compassion on them and healed them.
GOD¡¦S COMPASSION TO HEAL
1. God’s Compassion - DEFINITION
The most common verb used in the Greek New Testament to refer to God¡¦s compassion is splanchnizomai. This verb is used twelve times. Once it is used of the Samaritan¡¦s compassion for the wounded man (Luke 10:33). The other eleven uses refer to God’s compassion. In two separate parables Jesus uses this verb to refer to God’s compassion in saving and forgiving sinners (Matt. 18:27 and Luke 15:20). The remainder of the uses of this verb all refer to compassion as the major motivation for Jesus¡¦ healing and miracles. So in nine out of eleven occurrences where this verb is used of God¡¦s compassion it refers to the compassion of the Lord Jesus Christ as his motivation for healing!
What is the meaning of splanchnizomai when it refers to God’s compassion? The nominal form of this word originally referred to the inner parts of a man, the heart, liver, and so on. It could be used of the inward parts of a sacrificial animal, but it became common to use this word in reference to the lower parts of the abdomen, the intestines, and especially the womb. (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, eds. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1971] 7:548).
Some theologians have felt that this term was too rough or graphic to be used in reference to God’s compassion. Using the word for "intestines" to refer to God’s compassion is akin to our using the word ’guts’ for courage in modern English, as when we say, "He really has guts." However, I think the New Testament writers meant to do exactly this. They were impressing on the readers the power and the force of God’s compassion. They may also have had in mind a physical feeling associated with compassion. Sometimes a sharp pain in the abdomen will accompany intense feelings of compassion or pity for those we love. The choice of such a graphic word served to impress the New Testament Christians that God’s compassion for them was rooted in his deep love for them and his sensitivity to their pain.[Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, by Jack Deere (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993), pp. 279-280.
Psalm 78:37-39 Ps 78:37 their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant. Ps 78:38 Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. Ps 78:39 He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.
2. Memory Text: Lamentations 3:21-22
La 3:21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: La 3:22 Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. La 3:23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
3. Key Thought
Christ’s great love constrained Him to heal. His heart went out to the sick, the brokenhearted, and the bereaved. His love compelled Him to reach out, often healing entire villages.
4. Jesus Revealed God’s Merciful Character in His compassion and healing.
When people are hungry, cold, and without friends, they have a hard time understanding God’s tender mercies. The poor struggle to survive in a world of selfish people and are often treated as if they are less worthy. (We are always inclined to elevate the rich). The poor is looked down upon, pitied. But Christ says, "It was I who was hungry and thirsty. It was I who was a stranger. It was I who was sick."
Matthew 25:35-40: Mt 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, Mt 25:36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Mt 25:37 "Then the righteous will answer him, ’Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? Mt 25:38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? Mt 25:39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ Mt 25:40 "The King will reply, ’I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Although Jesus focused on eternity, He was concerned about the present and responded to the people who needed Him most--the poor, the ill, the grieving, and those entangled in webs of sin. He responded with infinite compassion.
Jesus revealed more than pity. Compassion implies pity accompanied by an urge to help. Sympathy sees and says, "I’m sorry." Compassion feels and whispers, ’I’ll help."