Compassion is Longing
July 4, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
At Oak Hills we say our mission is “longing to know and make known the astonishing grace of God.” Every year I seek to take time to step back and take stock of how we are doing as a church, in light of our mission. We have many reasons to give glory to God for his work among us to fulfill this mission. We also have room to grow, as we always will this side of heaven. This summer, I want to encourage our growth in “longing” by looking at pictures of longing from Scripture, praying that we would be challenged and inspired. This is part four of a multi-part series.
The word “longing” is important in our mission statement. Our mission is not merely “to know and make known,” as if we are compelled merely by a sense of duty. The word “longing” communicates the engagement of our hearts, our desires. We desire to know and make known.
Jesus models this “longing” and “desire” in his own mission. He famously declares his mission in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This is a pure statement of duty-bound mission. Praise God Jesus perfectly fulfilled his duty to be our ransom! Our salvation depends on it.
Jesus, however, was not merely compelled by duty to fulfill his mission. Matthew 9:36 gives a beautiful window into the heart of Jesus. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” The word for “had compassion” is the verb splagnizomai (Gr.), literally meaning that his inner bowels are moved for the people. This is the same word Paul uses to speak about his yearning for the Philippians with the “affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:8). This is the same word Jesus uses to commend the actions of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:33.
In fact, Jesus is moved by this deep-seated affection and compassion for people multiple times in the gospels.
He is compelled by compassion to heal people (Matt. 14:14).
He is compelled by compassion to feed people (Matt. 15:32).
He is compelled by compassion to heal two blind men (Matt. 20:34).
He is compelled by compassion to touch a leper (Mark 1:41).
He is compelled by compassion to raise a widow’s son from the dead (Luke 7:13).
He commends the compassion of the father towards the prodigal son (Luke 15:20).
Jesus did not come to merely serve and give his life as a ransom, but he longed to serve and give his life as a ransom. His compassion for people demonstrates that his heart was moved to serve people in their desperate state. Even as Jesus approached his crucifixion, he wept over Jerusalem because of their stubborn rebellion (Lk. 19:41-44).
May we have a compassion for others like Jesus as we long to make known his astonishing grace.