|“The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”|
Christ was full of compassion—“com - passion”: with passion. What a wonderful picture of the love of the Lord Jesus Christ as He faced the cross. How many times does Scripture indicate that Jesus had compassion? So often we find the phrase, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion.”1 And, of course, compassion motivated Jesus, along with His love, to die in our place in such a horrifying manner.
In the Old Testament, compassion was symbolized by the Mercy Seat within the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle. Once a year, the High Priest entered this sacred place to offer a sacrifice for the sins of his people.
The Mercy Seat—the “hilasterion”—indicated to the people of God that He fully sympathized with their sin, their pain, and their sorrows. The New Testament Greek text of Romans 3:25 KJV reads:2
[Jesus Christ] Whom God set forth to be a propitiation [mercy seat] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
The moment Jesus took His last breath, Scripture records that the veil in the temple was torn in two so that we all now have access to the mercy and love of Christ.
When we show compassion to others, we reflect Christ to them. When we take on someone else’s suffering, we put ourselves in their place, just as Christ did for us. When we invite others into our lives, we show the hospitality of Christ.
The mercy of God should flow through His people to others, just as it flowed constantly through Jesus’ earthly life. God the Father has compassion, Jesus the Son has compassion, and through the Holy Spirit, we can have compassion for others.
I am reminded of an old hymn that talks about the mercy seat. The mercy seat being a place of prayer, or a place of congregated believers who show forth Christ’s compassion.3
Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish;
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel;
Here bring your wounded hearts,
Here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal.
Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure,
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot cure.”
Here see the Bread of Life; see waters flowing,
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above;
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heav’n can remove.
|1 To name just a few: Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, and 20:34|
|2 Quoted by Beth Moore in Moore, Beth. A Woman’s Heart. Nashville: LifeWay Press, 1995. p. 181.|
|3 Moore, Thomas and Hastings, Thomas. Come, Ye Disconsolate. Public Domain.|