I am the Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin….Let all that I am praise the Lord. May I never forget the good things He does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things and renews me….I will not abandon you as orphans I will come to you. (Exodus 34:6-7; Psalm 103:2-5; John 14:18)
Amy Beatrice Carmichael (1867–1951) was an Irish Christian missionary in South India. In 1901 a seven-year-old Indian girl named Preena escaped from a Hindu temple and sought refuge with Amy. Preena’s widowed mother had dedicated her as a child to be “married to the gods,” which eventually led to a life of prostitution. Preena was a traumatized child and her hands had been branded with hot irons as punishment for a previous escape. She had heard Carmichael preach about the true and living God who loves everyone. Amy decided that she must do something about this cruel practice, so she intervened. Amy resolved to imitate Christ’s compassion in action.
Preena’s escape started a 50-year career for Amy in snatching girls and babies from a “life” worse than death and giving them a home. It eventually led Carmichael and her associates to discover little boys being trafficked and to save them too. Today, over one hundred years after Amy Carmichael launched her ministry, the Dohnavur Fellowship is still rescuing children who are in danger and would otherwise be trafficked or on the streets.1 Christ is still working through His people in the 21st century!
We have freely received numberless blessings from Jesus and are called to freely give to others. Here are some examples of the Lord’s merciful treatment of people from the Gospels.
Christ’s Compassion for the Crowds
Scripture Summary: Jesus went through towns and villages, teaching in the Jewish synagogues, proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom, and healing diseases and sicknesses. When He saw the crowds who came to hear Him, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He told His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field.”2
Comments: As we read the Four Gospels, we see that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day failed to give proper pastoral care to people’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. Daily life was hard and Roman oppression made things harder. So Christ healed and helped people and called His followers to imitate Him like Amy Carmichael did. We sometimes use the words compassion and kindness interchangeably, but they are different. Kindness is the quality of being magnanimous or doing open-hearted deeds. Compassion, on the other hand, is a sympathetic awareness of others’ distress linked to a desire to alleviate it. Jesus practices both and calls us to do the same.
Love Divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heaven, to earth come down:
Fix in us Your humble dwelling, All Your faithful mercies crown:
Jesus, You are all compassion, Pure, unbounded love You are;
Visit us with Your salvation, Enter every trembling heart.
Jesus Feeds the 5000 Plus
Scripture Summary: Another crowd followed the Lord on foot out into the countryside. When Christ saw them, He had compassion on them and healed their sick. The people had not brought food with them and there was no place nearby to buy it. One boy had five small loaves of bread and two fish, only enough for one person’s afternoon meal.
But Christ took the loaves and fish and praying up to Heaven, He gave thanks and broke them. He divided the food and He multiplied it! Then Jesus gave the new food He created to the disciples who passed it out. All 5,000 men plus the women and children ate and were fully satisfied. Twelve basketfuls of leftovers were saved by the disciples to be enjoyed later.3
Comments: Jesus is God the Son, so He provided for the people miraculously. He shows that He is the Lord of the Old Testament who gives food to every creature for His love endures forever.4 Tim Keller says: “Jesus’ miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the perfect world we all want is coming.” Even now that Christ has returned to Heaven, He still shows kindness by giving us rain from heaven and crops in their seasons. He still provides us with plenty of food and fills our hearts with joy.5 The 12 leftover basketfuls reminds us of the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles (representing God’s Old and New Testament followers).
Jesus performed a similar miracle on another occasion in Matthew chapter 15. Once again Christ’s big heart for people motivated Him to take action. Let us go and do likewise! When we are faced with gigantic needs, let’s call on God to share His colossal resources with us.
John Newton’s hymn says:
You are coming to a King, Large petitions with you bring.
For Christ’s grace and power are such, No one can ever ask too much.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank You for showing us and countless others Your everlasting grace, mercy, and peace. You have come that we can have real and eternal life, more and better life than we ever dreamed of. We confess that we have not passed on Your compassion to others. Forgive us for not loving others as You have first loved us. Help us to grow in practicing the Holy Spirit’s fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control so that people will turn back to you. Amen.
To be continued. You can read Jesus Has Everlasting Compassion (Part 2)
Notes (various Bible translations used): 1 Adapted from Carolyn Custis James, Half the Church (p. 191-192). 2 Paraphrase of Matt 9:35-38. 3 Paraphrase of Matt 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15. 4 Psalm 136:25. 5 Acts 14:17.