March 14, 2021
Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. 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. So the multitude marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel (Matthew 15:29-31).
From the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus demonstrated a super-human love and compassion toward people. That cannot be denied. Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd (Matthew 9:35-36). 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). So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, "What do you want Me to do for you?" They said to Him, "Lord, that our eyes may be opened." So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him (Matthew 20:32-34).
The word ‘compassion’ means to show pity or sympathy. But pity has a different meaning then than it has in our culture today. Today it means to feel sorry for a person who is ‘down on their luck’; to feel disappointment or regret for a person in a bad situation. Quite often when a person ‘pities’ someone that feeling remains a personal emotion within them.
When Jesus pitied a person it meant He was sympathetic toward that person; He demonstrated kindly sorrow over their suffering and distress and misfortune. That feeling didn’t remain a personal emotion - He did something about it. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick and diseased and handicapped and dying. He befriended the disenfranchised. He saved the lost and dying in sin. And His compassion was not directed just toward the Jews. He ministered to the Gentiles as well - the Roman officer (Matthew 8:5-13), the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4:6-42), and the Syro-Phoenician woman’s daughter (Matthew 15:22-28).
In our text for today, Jesus had left the region of Tyre and Sidon in ancient Phoenicia and returned to Galilee. The Gospel of Mark tells us (7:31) that Jesus walked along the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee and stopped near Decapolis, so He was still in Gentile territory. Having stopped there on a raised hill, people flocked to Him bringing their sick and handicapped. Did He refuse them? No. He ministered to them as He always did, and still does. He is truly our compassionate Christ.
“Thank You, Lord Jesus, for loving us so. Not only do You hear and respond to our requests for help, You give us faith, courage, peace, and strength even when our afflictions are not removed from us. May we never forget that You have delivered us from the greatest malady of all, and that is the spiritual disease of sin and death. May Your name be honored and glorified forever. Amen.”