While Jesus was on Earth, he performed over 35 miracles during his years of intentional ministry. He started by turning water into wine and healed many sick and oppressed people, but in Luke 7:11-17 we see him take it to the next level.
Jesus and his disciples, followed by a large crowd, were walking to a village called Nain. And as they approached the gates, a large funeral procession was exiting. The deceased was the son of a widow. In those times, a woman who lost her husband and only son would be staring at the face of poverty.
Jesus’s heart overflowed with compassion for this widow. What he did next is a great example of how compassion is to be put into action:
“Don’t cry!” he said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.”
Can you imagine witnessing this? Can you imagine being the widow who just lost everything, and a man comes up to you, touches your dead son, and raises him from the dead?
We are called to have that same level of compassion
Luke 6:36 Jesus challenges us directly, saying, “You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”
We don’t have the ability to raise anyone from the dead, but as Christians, we will feel the divine overflowing feeling Jesus felt, with the desire to act! Jesus said you were made to be compassionate in the way God is. And in the miracle above, he’s showing us what that looks like.
Now that we know that Jesus challenged us in this way, there are two implications for how we are supposed to respond and show compassion like Jesus did.
1. Compassion requires a reaction
You see this over and over again with Jesus. He feels moved by compassion and then converts that feeling into acting on their behalf. He walked over to the woman, touched her son, spoke to her, and then told the boy to “get up.” He reacted with compassion.
Compassion that stops short of action is just pity. Pity doesn’t change things. Pity doesn’t heal and help. Pity doesn’t make our love easy to see.
Compassion is the furthest thing from soft and touchy-feely. It drove Jesus to risk, to sacrifice, to move and act for the good of another, to look death in the face and conquer it. It doesn’t get any stronger than that.
The world needs more of that strength. The strength to willingly walk toward need when we see it and let God do the healing. Your family, wife, kids, employees, and co-workers need to see your strength and willingness to move toward someone in need and serve and love them.
2. We need to be open to interruption
It can be inconvenient to meet people's needs and go that extra step to take action. Before raising that boy to life, Jesus was on his way somewhere – he had an agenda. And his agenda was interrupted by a need.
It’s easy to speed past an opportunity that could become a need.
An easy way to accomplish this may be by asking these simple questions first to see if you know the needs of those around you.
Do you know what your co-workers are dealing with and what’s weighing them down?Do you know what your roommate is wrestling with right now?Do you know what your family is dealing with?
Here’s how we know when to act: when someone’s in need and your capacity to meet that need intersects and lines up, that is the moment for reaction.
Sometimes this happens in big ways, but most of the time, it’s in really small ways throughout our day. When we’re moved, feel it in our gut, and we have the capacity to do something small, we act on it.
Don’t feel overwhelmed by the reality that you can’t do everything to keep you from doing something.
At the end of the day, what the world needs most isn’t a bunch of Jesus' followers who feel compassionate. It needs followers of Jesus who are willing to be compassionate. To act on it when we feel God tugging on our hearts to do something.