Luke 7:12-13 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” (NIV)
I love the compassion that radiates from Jesus as reflected in this passage. “His heart went out to her.” The New Living Translation interprets it, “His heart overflowed with compassion.” As I let that one verse sink into my soul it says so many things to me.
Jesus is sympathetic to us in our sorrows from small to large. Certainly we understand that he is sympathetic to the great losses in our life. But, it doesn’t have to be the death of a loved one. It can be the death of a dream, a reputation, a opportunity or a relationship.
We have a Lord who was a man of sorrows familiar with deep grief. Jesus was fully God and fully man. Isaiah 53:3 foresaw our Savior would experience loss, rejection, and pain. This is not some abstract calculating God that is observing our struggles from a distance. Don’t buy the lie from our enemy that Jesus doesn’t care, because He does care at the deepest, most profound level.
I am partial to the New Living Translation because it says “his heart overflowed with compassion”. Jesus’ heart overflowed because His heart is FULL of compassion. It might seem that I am clearly overstating the obvious here, but my point is this: what is overflowing from your heart? If it is not love, mercy and compassion, ask Jesus to heal your heart.
Jesus acted on His compassion. He didn’t just feel bad for the woman. He didn’t merely express sympathy. He acted. I know we won’t in all likelihood raise people from the dead, but are we expressing our compassion in tangible acts of caring? Too often I find myself thinking that feeling badly for a person’s plight is sufficient. Compassion must move us to action. In fact, I believe from looking at Jesus’ example that sympathy resulting in action is biblical compassion. We have westernized the definition of the word “compassion” to mean emotions of pity, sympathy and sorrow.
Finally, and this insight is gained from verse sixteen of this passage- “They (the people who saw this miracle) were all filled with awe and praised God…” Death eventually came again to the widow and her son. The ultimate goal and outcome of the miracle is eternal and it is the revelation and praise of God. Because in the end the chorus will be as it is written in Revelation 15:3-4 “And they were singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your works, O Lord God, the Almighty. Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.”
Our compassion in action like Jesus’ will ultimately redound to God- His glory over all the nations forever and ever!