Inasmuch as . . .
Reflecting on the ministry of Jesus, we find that He always acted on the principle of compassion, to really grasp the value of a person, to meet them in their greatest need. We often miss addressing these greater needs and rather act on our need to tell them what we think they should believe, or be or do as our most important message.
In the gospel of Matthew we find two very interesting accounts of the way Jesus related to people. In chapter 9:36, we read that “when He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them.” His compassion was an overwhelming reservoir of love and mercy that washes over the one who is being seen by the greatest Source of Love in the universe.
When Jesus fixes His gaze on you, He doesn’t just take a look at your physical appearance or what you happen to be doing at that particular time. Rather, He truly sees you all the way to the depths of your soul. In that moment, His heart is moved by your need. It is clear that there is a great difference between being looked at, and actually being seen.
We understand compassion as that characteristic of Jesus that far surpasses a simple awareness of a particular need, but rather engages by investing His love and mercy to care for, resolve, restore, reconcile and completely satisfy someone’s concern. For us to be a conduit of His compassion to another person can be difficult, it can be messy, time consuming and inconvenient.
The apostle Paul provides some very clear counsel in Colossians 3:12, “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion.” Isn’t it interesting that he uses the metaphor of clothing.
When we meet each other, the very first thing that we may see is what each of us is wearing, because our clothes often confirm who we are and what is important to us. As His disciples, Jesus calls us to fairly represent Him as we share His love with them.
Jesus wraps up one of His greatest sermons in all the Gospels recorded in Matthew 25:34. In this passage He wants us to understand what is of utmost and eternal importance. Jesus makes it clear how our lives and our story will be evaluated for entering the “kingdom that has been prepared since the creation of the world.”
In what is a very moving and inclusive description of the ways that we can serve Him, Jesus presents a broad list of our activities that extend directly to Him. What confuses His listeners is that these actions describe things that are done to someone else. Here we find a dialogue between the Lord, the Righteous Judge, and the people He is describing as being righteous and welcomed into His eternal kingdom.
We hear the response of those who are being identified with the righteous asking Jesus when they did all those things for Him. and He says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.”
For us to do these things requires that we truly see people as being part of God’s creation and recognize in them the image of their Creator. If we truly see them, we will respond by stepping into their lives to meet their greatest need. When we commit to that level of compassion, the people whom we serve will be more likely to recognize Jesus in us.
By Phil Robertson