Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:1-14
When you are depressed, how do you imagine Jesus?
Do you picture him rolling his eyes, telling you to just snap out of it?
Do you picture him stoic, vacant-eyed, indifferent to the sharpness of your struggle?
At my lowest points, I pictured Him this way. I believed that though He might love me, it was a begrudging love, one annoyed at my incompetence. Although he stuck with me because He had promised to, He regretted his decision because I certainly wasn’t pulling my weight.
Now think about a time you were so upset that you couldn’t eat. The tangled stomach, the inner groan that transformed the joy of nourishment into shivering disgust.
This is how Jesus feels when he sees you in pain.
The English word for compassion doesn’t fully communicate His heart. We may know that it literally means “suffering with,” but we rarely use it to describe a heart completely entering into another’s grief.
Christ’s compassion is different.
Charles Spurgeon* tells us that the Greek word used for Christ’s compassion in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, splagchnizomai, was likely created by one of the writers. He says, “They did not find one in the whole Greek language that suited their purpose, and therefore they had to make one.”
This word comes from the Greek for “bowels,” which were thought to house the emotions. The literal meaning of the word is “to be moved as to one’s bowels,” or, in phrasing that sounds better to our ears, a gut-wrenching compassion. Jesus’ compassion was so visible, so powerful, and so unique that only a new word would do.
When Jesus saw the crowd drowning in weakness and pain and hopelessness, he didn’t heal out of reluctant obligation to a promise he regretted making. He didn’t act so that those He healed would do more for Him. No, His stomach turned and his eyes filled. It wasn’t duty or annoyance that compelled Him to act, but a love He couldn’t suppress.
When Jesus sees you suffering, it’s as though He were the one in pain.
On the days you can’t get out of bed, His eyes aren’t full of scorn, but tears.
On the days you want to die, He asks the Father to restore your life.
And in every day, every moment, He is moved with gut-wrenching compassion for this child He loves.
Prayer: Father, open my eyes to see Jesus as He truly is. For every thought that says you are distant and uncaring, replace it with the image of Jesus weeping with me. You are greatly moved by my suffering, and I praise you for your compassion, a compassion that is vastly different from anything I have ever experienced.
*Read Spurgeon’s full sermon here!