This chapter discusses Matthew 14:14, “And he had compassion on them.”
Ortlund claims, “His life proves his heart.” He quotes Thomas Goodwin: “Christ is love covered over in flesh.”
To establish this point, Ortlund discusses how eager Jesus was to heal a leper and a paralyzed man. He zeroes in on the compassion Jesus experienced when he saw many crowds, even to the point of weeping on two occasions. Ortlund notes that even his enemies call him a friend of sinners.
While there are many dimensions to Christ’s splendor, Ortlund argues that the Scriptures point us to see a primary theme:
But the dominant note left ringing in our ears after reading the Gospels, the most vivid and arresting element of the portrait, is the way the Holy Son of God moves toward, touches, heals, embraces, and forgives those who least deserve it yet truly desire it.
This is deeper than saying Jesus is loving or merciful or gracious. The cumulative testimony of the four Gospels is that when Jesus Christ sees the fallenness of the world all about him, his deepest impulse, his most natural instinct, is to move toward that sin and suffering, not away from it.
Merriam-Webster defines this word as, ‘sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it."
Does that ring true to you?
That Jesus is aware of your distress, he cares for you, and he desires to alleviate your needs?
Further, Ortlund argues that as much as we see compassion in Jesus’ earthly ministry, now we have even greater access to his compassionate heart:
For now we simply note that through the Spirit, Christ himself not only touches us but lives within us. The New Testament teaches that we are united to Christ, a union so intimate that whatever our own body parts do, Christ’s body can be said to do (1 Cor. 6:15–16). Jesus Christ is closer to you today than he was to the sinners and sufferers he spoke with and touched in his earthly ministry. Through his Spirit, Christ’s own heart envelops his people with an embrace nearer and tighter than any physical embrace could ever achieve. His actions on earth in a body reflected his heart; the same heart now acts in the same ways toward us, for we are now his body.
- What is your favorite story in the Gospels of how Jesus showed compassion? What do you love about it?
- How have you experienced Jesus’ compassion in your own life?
- Does this focus on the compassion of Jesus seem unbalanced to you? If so, why?