The Power of Compassion
“Dear Woman, here is your son….Here is your mother.”
- John 19:26-27
You can tell a lot about a man or woman by the way they respond to adversity or high pressure circumstances. Some people crash and burn under the pressure. Others lash out or become defensive. Still others become highly agitated and/or completely stressed out. In extreme cases there can be a tendency to define everything and every moment by the pressure of our circumstances to the detriment and neglect of everything else in our lives. If ever there are moments when compassion for others would seem counterintuitive, it would be in moments of extreme adversity.
Consider the contextual backdrop of John 19:26-27. Jesus is juxtaposed between the spiritual work of reconciling mankind back to the Father and His natural responsibility as the eldest son of His earthly mother. His legal father Joseph is believed to have been dead for some time now and as the oldest son, Jesus is responsible for ensuring Mary’s physical, emotional, and financial well-being after His death. As He hangs on the cross, in her eyes he can see that she’s experiencing the inexplicable anguish that only a mother can feel when her child is suffering. He is juxtaposed between paying the penalty for the sins of the entire human race (past, present and future) and His compassion for His mother whose heart was being pierced just as it was prophesied by the righteous man Simeon.
Ever the Master Teacher, even while dying we find Jesus teaching another lesson and articulating a principle by way of His actions. Throughout the discourse of Holy Scripture we see the consistent witness of Christ being moved into action by His compassion. You will notice phrases like… “Jesus moved by compassion….” followed by the performance of some miracle, healing, feeding, or ministry moment often in a context where it would have been more favorable for Him to focus on Himself.
COMPASSION EMPOWERS US TO TRANSCEND OUR CIRCUMSTANCES
No matter how noble the work, spiritual the activity, or intense the pain of adversity is we cannot neglect the work of compassion and ministering to the needs of others. It empowers us to go beyond ourselves, beyond our environment and beyond our circumstances…even in environments when it would appear logical to focus on ourselves.
Jesus demonstrates this for us in an actionable way. Consider this: He utters these words in the most contemptible adversarial context ever known to man! He is literally paying the penalty for the sins of all mankind while those He came to save are spitting in His face, torturing Him physically and mentally and yet again moved by compassion He finds the grace to minister to the needs of His Mother Mary. His compassion serves as the virtue to move Him past the physical and mental torment of His circumstances and secure provisions for His mother.
If we want to be reflections of Christ in the earth, we must operate in that same vein of compassion empowered by its grace! Candidly speaking, it is counterintuitive to think of the needs of others when we are hurting. It is human instinct to draw inward when we are in pain. But thank God for Godly compassion! There is something about Godly compassion on the inside of the son or daughter of God that graces them behold and consider others even when the natural order of the circumstances say to focus on oneself.
While hanging on the cross, Jesus looked at his mother and the disciple whom He loved and despite the physical, mental, and emotional drain on His being He ministered graciously to them from a place of compassion. I implore each of you this evening to allow compassion to empower you to engage in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Minister His grace through your compassion.