Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals.  Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades.  Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed…  One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”  “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath…John 5:1-3, 5-9 NIV
When we experience “a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for other people’s suffering or bad luck and a desire to help,” then we are experiencing compassion, one of the chief motivators in the life of Jesus.
Paying close attention to John 5:3-6 we learn there are a great number of disabled people by the pool, but Jesus “sees” the one who has been there for 38 years. There has never been a shortage of people to “stare” at someone with a disability, but rare is the person who “sees” someone with a disability.
Compassion is what turns “staring” into “seeing,” and in the case of this disabled man, it was being seen that changed his life.
- Read all of John chapter 4-5
- Read Matthew 9:35-37 and explain what the compassion of Jesus allowed him to see
- Read Matthew 14:13-14 and identify the “power source” for the compassion of Jesus
- Read Luke 15:11-31 and explain the connection between compassion and forgiveness
Compassion is one of the most easily identified yet least imitated qualities of Jesus.
This failure to imitate the compassion of Jesus is surprising when we consider how often the word is used in Scripture. Combine the use of the word compassion with the countless number of times Jesus exhibits the action without the word being used to describe it, and our failure to imitate becomes callous.
Redefining our view of Jesus should include not only identifying compassion in his life, but exhibiting compassion in our own.
- How might you begin living a more compassionate life today?
- What obstacles to compassion exist in your life?
- Can you draw motivation to grow in this area by remembering moments when you were the beneficiary of another person’s compassion?
- How different do you think things would be in your home, church, community, or even the world if everyone became more compassionate?
*Definitions in “The 12 Days of Jesus” studies are based on the Cambridge Dictionary
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