And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matt. 9:35-36
Lord Jesus, there are so many reasons to love you, so many reasons to risk being completely honest and vulnerable with you. Today I’m particularly thankful for your mercy and kindness. So many things come to mind when I ponder your irrepressible, overflowing compassion.
Compassion presupposes merciful feelings. When you look at crowds of harassed and helpless people, you don’t ignore them, you’re not irritated by them, you don’t despise them. Sympathy beats within your breast; kindness overflows. I see this everywhere in the Scriptures. Help me know this is what you feel for me in my den this morning, and not just what you felt for the multitudes in Galilee.
At times my theology far outstrips my experience, Jesus—my doctrine being more certain than my doxology. I need your Holy Spirit to convince me afresh that as you look at me right now, it’s mercy you feel. I can’t say I’m either harassed or helpless, but fresh mercies for the day will be greatly appreciated.
Compassion requires actual presence. Jesus, when I pray, I’m still inclined to think you’re “up there” somewhere, sitting on a big chair beside the Father, surrounded by a multitude of angels and a lot of singing. But I know better. I know you live in the hearts of every one of us who believe the gospel. I know you’ve promised to never leave us or forsake us. I know that and I really believe it, but would you make it more current and real? Would you come and shepherd my heart today?
Compassion shares the suffering of another. Jesus, it really is enough to know that you suffered for us on the cross. I build my life, and my coming death, on this glorious gospel—this good news that you were “pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5); that by your blood “you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).
What you suffered on the cross, you suffered once and for all (Heb. 10:1-18), and we worship you now and will worship you forever because of your matchless sacrifice. But it’s also as overwhelming as it is comforting to know that you share in our sufferings right now. You suffered for us, once and for all, and you suffer with us now.
During the times when you feel so far away, so removed, so disengaged, you could not be nearer than you actually are, Jesus. Hallelujah, what a Savior! Hallelujah, what a salvation! So very Amen I pray with gratitude and peace, in your kind and compassionate name.