Yesterday, I suggested that the Passion of the Christ was motivated by the passion of the Christ for you and for me. I think we could also connect a lot of that text with the topic of today’s post, God is Compassionate, but instead, let’s look at this Truth from a different angle.
To provide compassion for all of humanity at once, in the grand, sweeping and all-inclusive gesture of the Cross would be more than enough, and certainly more than we deserve. But what blows me away even more is the 50 billion individual acts of one-on-one compassion we get to experience on our own – in addition to the Cross!
A website called HealingScripture.com identifies 27 different healings that Jesus performed in the Gospels – each of which has as much to do with God’s compassion as with His power.
And that’s only the ones that the Gospel writers chose to report. There were undoubtedly more where those came from.
“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” – John 21:25.
In light of that understanding, I’ve historically viewed the Compassion of God as more of a New Testament concept.
Not that it was absent from the Old, but my perception was that the focus of the first two-thirds of the Good Book was His wrath, not His mercy.
So imagine my surprise today when I discovered that the word ‘compassion’ appears just as many times in the Torah as in the Gospels, and nearly five times as often in the entire Old Testament as the New (in the New International Version, according to Bible Gateway’s search engine).
I do see some of the flaws in reading too much into this discovery, by the way. For starters, I know that the Old Testament contains many more words than the New, so we’re not exactly comparing figs and grapes here.
And I also realize that I’m isolating one word in one English translation, rather than looking more broadly at the term’s many synonyms (pity and mercy, for examples) in the very many alternative translations to the NIV. I suspect that more thorough study (wouldn’t take much) would provide a different perspective.
But the general picture is pretty compelling, at least for me.
The Old Testament – which is supposed to be full of Do’s, Don’ts, warnings and repercussions – and the New Testament, which tells the story of the fulfillment of that law and God’s merciful redemption of the human race, are at least in the same league when it comes to talking about the fact that God is Compassionate.
On that note and without further adieu, here are a few of my favorite passages that illustrate today’s Simple Truth:
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
- “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” – Psalm 103:8
- “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” – Exodus 33:19b
- “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
- “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” – Mark 6:34
Lord, please have compassion on me, and continue teaching me many things. Amen.
Peace be with you.