Compassion is one of God’s signature qualities. “You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God” (Ps. 86:15a, NIV). To have compassion is to identify with someone in their suffering. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite felt pity for the traveler, but only the Samaritan had compassion (Luke 10:33). Compassion is that wrenching, deep-felt love that overcomes our fearful inertia and compels us to act. Compassion causes us to say, “I will not leave them in this condition.”

The original word for compassion (splagchnizomai) appears a dozen times in the New Testament and it is always associated with the divine compassion revealed in Jesus Christ. Jesus felt compassion for the distressed and the dispirited (Matt. 9:36, Mark 6:34) as well as the sick (Matt. 14:14, 20:34, Mark 1:41), the hungry (Matt. 15:32, Mark 8:2), the oppressed (Mark 9:22), and the bereaved (Luke 7:13).

The word also appears in three Christological parables; Compassion is the king forgiving the debt of his pleading servant (Matt. 18:27), it is the prodigal’s father embracing his emaciated son (Luke 15:20), and it is the Good Samaritan coming to the rescue of the wounded traveler (Luke 10:33).

The compassion is God is revealed in Christ descending from heaven to rescue fallen humanity, embracing us in our rotten state, and forgiving all our sins and transgressions.

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