We have a Savior with great compassion. This is a quality He expects us to have as well. We should be moved by those hurting. We should be responding to those in need. Here’s why:
And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, and He said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.
– Mark 1:40-45, NASB
Verse 41 tells us the reason Jesus healed the leper: compassion. Simply, our Savior saw the man’s desperation, his desire to be whole, to no longer be an outcast, to participate in the worship of God, to be an integral part of the society again. Note how Jesus healed this leper. He could have merely spoken the word. After all, the leper demonstrated great faith by proclaiming that if Jesus was willing, Jesus could heal him. But Jesus didn’t just speak the word. Like with Peter’s mother-in-law, like with the crowd of folks seeking healing and exorcism in Capernaum, Jesus did more. He touched the man. In order to heal him, Jesus touched him. Likely this man had not felt human contact for a long, long time. After all, leprosy was believed to be a communicable disease that could be passed on simply by touching a leper. I think about how good it feels to get the hugs from my family when I’ve been on a business trip and been away for a few days. I don’t think I can imagine going years without the slightest bit of gentle contact, without a touch meant out of kindness, but that’s likely how this leper lived. And thus the simple touch of Jesus upon him must have been overwhelming.
And what Jesus does next I’m sure He knew was going to be fruitless. He warns the man to go to the high priest and offer the appropriate sacrifice and say no more. Jesus knew that if word spread, he wouldn’t be able to enter the city. There would be too many people looking for him, both good and bad. Sure enough, the man did more than just what Jesus commanded him, and sure enough, the crowds that were drawn when Jesus attempted to enter a city were too much. As a result, Jesus was forced to stay in unpopulated areas, in the wilderness, away from any sense of comfort that he might have received within the city. Jesus had to knew all of this was to come, that His life would be disrupted, yet He healed the man. Such was Jesus’ compassion.
And to think about this miracle, I’m struck by how compassionate Jesus is towards us. The whole road to the Cross wasn’t a mistake. And it wasn’t for Himself. It was to rescue us from our sins. Talk about compassionate. Jesus knew that if He didn’t go and die on that Cross, we stayed lost. So He went. He didn’t have to go. Yet He did have to go. He went because of His compassion. That’s humbling, especially when I think of all the times I’ve been less than compassionate, when I might have said no because it cost me some comfort. It didn’t cost me anything of real value. Not eternal value, Yet still I found a way to say no. Christ didn’t. Regardless of the cost, He came after us. Our Savior didn’t just stop at getting us, He continues the relationship. He continues to meet our needs. He looks to help us grow. He wants us to be more and more like Him. And that includes compassion.
Is there something bothering you? Have you taken it to Christ in prayer? Have you done so with the firm understanding that He is compassionate beyond what we can comprehend? Have you trusted in Him to hear you out, to weigh the importance of your petition, and to act accordingly? Our Savior does all of that. We just have to trust Him. We have plenty of evidence from Scripture that reminds us of how much love and compassion He has for us. We just have to believe it. And once we do, we should know the importance of cultivating compassion in our own lives. After all, we’re supposed to be Christ-like, right?