Jesus: A Model of Compassionate Love

Jun 26, 2016

By Pamela Deacon-Joyner, PCA board member

One way or another, the imprint of Jesus is on all our lives and there is a flood of images that have influenced each generation. Who is the real Jesus? What was he like? Each person has to make their own creative inquiry. The Gospels portray Jesus as a man with a multitude of emotions from great joy to great anger. He was often consumed with enthusiasm, deep agony, or filled with joy. I can relate to all of those emotions and bet you can too. Jesus’ character shined through many times and in various ways. Nevertheless, “love permeated, guided, and empowered the spectrum of Jesus’ emotions.” (Christianity Today, G. Walter Hansen, 1997, pp.45)

Central to discovering the real Jesus is understanding his motivation for and acts of compassionate love. “He was moved with compassion” (Mark 9:36). Think of Jesus’ behavior and teaching of compassion in the context of Jesus’ action on behalf of God. The definition of compassion is profound. It is to have sympathetic consciousness of the others’ distress (or to feel with the others’ distress) together with a desire to alleviate it. In laywoman’s terms compassion is feeling the feelings of somebody else in an internal way, other than just in reason or intellect.

One example of a compassionate encounter is in Luke 5:12-15. A man pleaded “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Here was a man who was untouchable and banished from society as unclean. But Luke says that Jesus reached out with compassion and touched him saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Jesus was moved with compassion and the man was restored, returned to a functional place in society. The Gospels abound with miracles, especially in Mark; however, Jesus did not emphasize his miracles. Often having healed someone he would tell them to “tell no one.”

Jesus is our role model, our mentor. Those of us who have a passion and calling for prison ministry are led by the Holy Spirit and are willing to be Jesus’ hands and feet. Nothing brings me more joy than to be the bearer of Good News, to bring freedom to the captives. For believers today the truth is “we are our brother’s keepers.” I have come to realize that the closer we move towards humanity, no matter what their physical or emotional condition, the closer we move towards God. We must never forget what Jesus Christ has rescued us from. Many times I have thought myself in a similar predicament as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but with God’s protection I survived and “never even smelled like smoke.”


Category: mission

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