Friday, May 12, 2023

A Bleeding Heart

 



Jesus not only taught about the importance of love, compassion, and forgiveness, but it is also how he lived. He spent time helping others and showing compassion to those who needed healing, help, and hope. Jesus’s mission of compassion was an important part of how he ushered God’s Kingdom into the world, because it was a visible demonstration of what life in the Kingdom was like.

 Throughout the Gospels, we read about examples of how Jesus showed compassion to people, especially to people on the outside of community. It is interesting to note that most of the Jesus’ healings allowed people to return to being part of community life. Their healings moved them from being on the outside of the community to the inside of community. 

One of the best examples of this reality is seen in John 8:2-11. In this passage we read about a woman caught in adultery.  The religious leaders brought this woman to Jesus, after catching her in the act of adultery (apparently the man vanished into thin air). They asked Jesus what should be done with her. After all, the Law demanded that a person (both the man and the woman) in her situation should be stoned to death. 

Jesus, wanting people to rethink how the Law should be applied, said, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7, CSB) Jesus' words not only revealed his compassion for a woman who was unfairly treated, but these words also highlighted the hypocrisy of the religious leaders who were quick to judge and condemn others without acknowledging their sin.

Another example of Jesus' compassion is found in the healing of the leper found in Mark 1. Leprosy in the first century was a feared disease since it was untreatable and made a person unclean. Since lepers were viewed as unclean they were forced to live in physical and social isolation. 

In Mark 1:40-45, we read how Jesus cleansed this man with leprosy by touching him, despite the social taboo of touching a leper. Jesus not only showed compassion for the man's physical suffering, but Jesus also restored his social standing by cleansing him of leprosy, which allowed the man to return to the community. 

Another example of Jesus showing compassion to those who were outcasts or and marginalized by society is found in Luke 7:36-50. In this passage Jesus is invited to dinner by a Pharisee named Simon. At dinner a woman known for her sinful life came in uninvited. She made a spectacle of herself as she cried and kissed Jesus’ feet. Simon was disgusted by her presence, but Jesus praised her and forgave her sins. This story reveals Jesus’ compassionate and gracious character as he makes room in the Kingdom for those the religious culture had rejected. Jesus makes room for the outcasts by offering them hope and forgiveness.

Without a doubt, Jesus' life was marked by compassion for others. He reached out to those who were suffering, whether physically, emotionally, or socially, and offered them hope and healing. Jesus' compassion for people provides us with an example to follow.

Given that reality, it makes me wonder about the motivation behind statements like this.
 


I think this a good example of being so committed to a theological and political worldview that it distorts the true image God and true character of Jesus. As I just demonstrated, reading of the Gospels reveals this as an incorrect understanding of Jesus and his mission.

The Bible clearly teaches that God saved us because of His love (John 3:16). Pity, mercy, and compassion all flow out of love. God saves us because He loves us. This is crucial because it is love that forms the foundation for how we are to live.

John wrote:
1 John 3:16-17 (NLT)
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?

Sacrificial love is the opposite of promoting your own glory. It is doing what is best for the person in need, regardless of the cost to you.

Paul emphasizes this very point in Philippians 2.
Philippians 2:3-8 (NLT)
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

We are to be humble, because Jesus was humble. It was the humility of Jesus that led him to set aside his divine rights and sacrifice himself for us. Yes, the passage goes on to say that Jesus will be raised to the place of highest honor, but that was not what motivated him. His motivation was love and that required humility and sacrifice.

The write of Hebrews wrote:
Hebrews 1:3 (NLT)
The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

In Jesus we see both the glory of God and the character of God, and what we discover is that at the very heart of who God is is love. We can’t separate God’s glory from love, and therefore, compassion is at the very heart of salvation.

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