A Heart of Compassion
Jesus was having what we, in the natural, would call a ‘bad day’. He had just received the news that the person who most understood him, his cousin, the prophet John the Baptist, had been wantonly murdered to fulfill a shallow promise by a lustful king.
Jesus, though he was God, was also human, with human emotions. When he received this tragic news he just wanted to get away from it all. Matthew tells us:
Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself… (Matthew 14:13a, NASB)
We’ve all been in that place where the cares of this world come over us like a tidal wave and all we want to do is to get away and be alone with God.
But the people would not let him have this time of mourning. Matthew tells us:
…when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. (Matthew 14:13b, NASB)
Jesus could have sent Peter or James out to tell the masses that he was taking the day off. He could have asked John to let the throng know that he was ‘indisposed’. But the Bible tells us how Jesus responded:
When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:14, NASB)
Earlier Jesus revealed the heart of God to his disciples when he told them:
It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. (Matthew 9:12, NASB)
Jesus made it clear that not only does God have compassion on sinners, but He desires that we have that same compassion. He wants to turn our hearts of stone – as a result of hurts, betrayal, cynicism, or selfishness – into hearts of flesh that long to love God and make His love known to the world … even when we’re having a ‘bad day’.
Today, as we go through our day, let’s take some time to ask that God would give us a heart of compassion for the lost. Let’s pray that through this heart of compassion we would be moved to become a part of what God is doing to take the gospel to hurting people around the world.
Pray that God’s love would be loosed in our hearts and that we would be moved with compassion – just as Jesus was – for sinners in need of a Savior.
This is the heart of God. By His grace, may it also be our heart.
For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help, the afflicted also, and him who has no helper. He will have compassion on the poor and needy, and the lives of the needy he will save. (Psalms 72:12-13, NASB)