Last week we looked at what the word compassion means. If you missed it check it out here.
Oftentimes when we hear the word “compassion”, we think of a feeling. We think of someone who does something for someone else, and it is usually because that person is hurting or because of some emotion. Today, I want to look at Biblical compassion because compassion is more than just a feeling of pity or an action of love we do in response to someone’s bad situation. We will look at Jesus and how He interacted with Lazarus to see how true compassion should operate.
Compassion not Pity
Jesus was moved not by pity or simply by some need. Why is this important? Because without this realization, we could travel our whole lives without seeing the healing we so desperately need.
Why else is this important? If you’re like me, you see the world who is falling apart over COVID-19 and think of what the Bible says in Psalm 107:20
He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.Psalm 107:20
Christians should want to talk about the Healer and Savior who is stronger than any COVID-19 and more powerful than any destruction we could be facing, but without being moved by compassion, pity and a need for salvation simply won’t cut it.
Jesus was moved with compassion when the love in his heart sprung into action activated by faith. What is that love? It is the Word planted in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
Compassion – an out pour of Agape
Compassion is an outpouring of the agape kind of love from our spirits activated by faith. In John 11 we see the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Today we will examine what happened when Jesus was moved with compassion and acted to perform a miracle and raise Lazarus from the dead.
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”John 11:1-3 (NKJV)
Throughout the Bible the word love has many different meanings. The New Testament is written in Greek and in the Greek language there are multiple words for what we in English simply call… love.
We see here that Jesus loved Lazarus. This word “love” here is the word “phileo” which means “affectionate friendship” (See Strong’s Concordance 5368). Jesus and Lazarus were friends.
So did Jesus rush to His friend’s side and pray for him immediately? No. Instead He waited. Jesus knew that the “phileo” kind of love isn’t the type of love needed to raise Lazarus from the dead.
Simply loving someone as a friend isn’t enough to perform a miracle.
Your ability – not that you have any ability – to heal someone is not found in the phileo kind of love.
When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”John 11:4-7 (NKJV)
When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
What are you saying over your circumstances? Are you saying…
- This COVID-19 is gonna kill me!
- This COVID -19 is going to bankrupt me!
- This COVID -19 …. This COVID…. This COVID.
Or are you saying This COVID-19 is not unto death, but for the glory of God.
Thankfully Jesus made the choice to exercise the agape love towards Lazarus – the love of choice, the GOD kind of love. In verse 5 we see “Jesus loved Martha…” This kind of love is not the same kind of love we saw previously. This is the “agape” kind of love or the “discriminating affection which involves choice and selection” (See Strong’s Concordance 25).
This is the love that the Holy Spirit has shed abroad in our hearts as it says in Romans 5:5 and the same love that Jesus says He has in John 15:13 when He says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
What is Compassion?
To answer this question let’s look at the story of two men who were blind. In Matthew 20:29-34, we see a story of two blind men who used faith to move Jesus’s hand.
29 Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. 30 And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”
31 Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”
32 So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
33 They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” 34 So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.Matthew 20:29-34 (NKJV)
Notice that these men didn’t simply sit around waiting for Jesus to see them. They reached out in faith and called Him by name.
9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.2 Chronicles 16:9 King James Version (KJV)
God is looking for faith in the earth. Without faith it is impossible to please God. It is not need but faith that moves God’s hands as it did for the blind men, for Lazarus, and as it will for us.
In verse 34 we see Jesus’s response, “Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes.”
This word compassion is what we are talking about. It is the word “Splagchnizomai” which means “to be moved in the inward parts // to be moved with compassion” (Strong’s Concordance 4697).
So really this verse could read…
“He was moved in the inward parts [His spirit] and touched their eyes”
Compassion (or Splagchnizomai) is the agape love stored in your spirit moved to action in response to faith.
The agape kind of love is the love that is exercised when we act in compassion. It is the “God kind of Love”. The same love that sent Jesus to the cross and the only love that will heal sickness and disease.
Compassion for Lazarus
Now returning to John 11 and verse 6 we see Jesus act differently than most would in His situation. He remains in the place where He is for two more days. Most people when they hear a loved one is sick and about to die don’t just remain where they are. Instead, they rush to their bed side, but Jesus didn’t do that.
Why? Because Jesus was following the Holy Spirit.
The action that makes compassion work is obedience to the Holy Spirit.
Jesus couldn’t just go heal Lazarus because he had to listen to the Holy Spirit. And in later verses we see why that is…
14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.
15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”John 11:14-15
He says that, “for YOUR sakes” – talking about the disciples with Jesus – He remained absent so their faith would remain intact.
Another important thing to see is that admitting a physical fact is not the same as abandoning faith in the Word of God. Jesus plainly says “Lazarus is dead”, but still He did not waver in His faith.
Compassion needs Faith
The next important thing to see is what happens with Martha.
21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”John 11:21-27
What is Jesus doing in these verses? We see the stead progression of faith being produced in Martha. See without faith Jesus could not do anything. Martha had faith that Lazarus would eventually raise again but Jesus was telling her to have faith that he would raise now.
Skipping down we see the results of what Jesus said in previous verses.
33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.
34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”John 11:33-34 (NKJV)
This verse is important. Jesus has been just outside town for a while now speaking with Martha and Mary and encouraging them in their faith. For “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” How can they have faith unless they have heard?
Faith sprung to Action
After He said all of this boosting their faith. “He groaned in the spirit” which translates into he was moved with compassion. Compassion is an outpouring of love from the spirit moved by faith.
Now that faith had come compassion could be outpoured.
Jesus can ask “Where have you laid him?” because now that his spirit is groaning with love He can do something.
Even Jesus cannot do anything without faith for “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb. 11:6)
Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.
39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”John 11:38-39 (NKJV)
Then Jesus, again, groaning came to the tomb. It’s important we see that Jesus was able to be so bold because of what He knew in His spirit.
It doesn’t just work to wake up and “yell in a loud voice”… CANCER COME OUT! SICKNESS STOP!
Faith operates by Love
He could be bold and sure not from himself but from the Holy Spirit inside of Him. But when those around him started to waver He pointed them back to God.
40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”
43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”
44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
There has to be faith operating by love (compassion) at work to fulfill the Biblical hope you have secured by meditating in the Word day and night ( Joshua 1: 8-9).
What is our job? In this time when the world is freaking out about COVID-19 we have a better Word. We have the Word which casts out fear and uncertainty. It causes enemies to flee and meditation on that word is exactly the remedy to any problem that may come our way.