“I have compassion on the multitude ...” (Mark 8:2)
What a pattern to his people—the tender compassion of Jesus!
Jesus found the world he came to save a moral Bethesda. The wail of suffering humanity was everywhere borne to his ear. It was his delight to walk its porches, to pity, relieve, comfort, save! The faintest cry of misery arrested his footsteps—stirred a ripple in this fountain of infinite love.
Was it a leper—that dreaded name which entailed a life-long exile from friendly looks and kindly words? There was One, at least, who had tones and deeds of tenderness for the outcast. “Jesus, being moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him” (Mk. 1:41). Was it some blind beggars on the Jericho highway, groping in darkness, pleading for help? “Jesus stood still, and had compassion on them, and touched their eyes!” (Mt. 20:32, 34). Was it the speechless pleadings of a widow’s tears at the gate of Nain, when she followed her earthly pride and joy to the grave? “When the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said, ‘Weep not!’” (Lk. 7:13).
Even when He rebukes, the bow of compassion is seen in the cloud, or rather, that cloud, as it passes, dissolves in a rain shower of mercy. He pronounces Jerusalem “desolate,” but the doom is uttered amid a flood of anguished sorrow!
Reader, do the compassionate words and deeds of a tender Savior find any feeble echo and transcript in yours? As you traverse in thought the wastes of human wretchedness, does the spectacle give rise, not to the mere emotional feeling which weeps itself away in sentimental tears, but to an earnest desire to do something to mitigate the sufferings of woe-worn humanity?
How vast and worldwide the claims on your compassion—now near, now at a distance—the unmet and unanswered cry of perishing millions abroad, the heathen which lie helpless at your own door, the public charity languishing, the mission staff dwarfed and crippled from lack of necessary funds, a suffering community, a starving family, a poor neighbor, a helpless orphan, it may be, some crowded hovel, where misery and vice run riot, or some lonely sick chamber, where the dim lamp has been wasting for dreary nights, or some desolate home which death has entered, where “Joseph is not, and Simeon is not” (Gen 42:36), and where some sobbing heart, under the tattered garment of poverty, mourns, uncomforted and unpitied.
Are there none such within your reach, to whom a trifling pittance would be as an angel of mercy? How it would hallow and enhance all you possess, were you to seek to live as gracious distributor of God’s bounties! If he has given you of this world’s substance, remember it is bestowed, not to be greedily hoarded or lavishly squandered. Property and wealth are talents to be exchanged and given for the good of others—sacred trusts, not selfishly to be enjoyed, but generously to be employed.
The poor are the representatives of Jesus, their needs he considers as his own, and he will recompense accordingly. The feeblest expression of Christian pity and love, though it be but the widow’s mite, or the cup of cold water, or the kindly look and word when there is neither mite nor cup to give, yet, if done in his name, it is entered into the Book of Life as a “loan to the Lord” (1 Sam. 2:20). And one day the loan will be paid back with interest.
Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind!
Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.
— Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
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