Luke 10:33 33 “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion”
Who doesn’t know the story of the Good Samaritan? It is widely known and even used as an American idiom. A while back I was studying the passage in Luke 10 and could not stop thinking of the word compassion. In verse 33, Jesus tells us that the Samaritan had compassion on the Jew laying on the side of the road and that compassion did something internally and externally to the Samaritan.
The word compassion in the Greek is translated literally as “movement in one’s bowels”. It is not saying that this was a Samaritan that had bad gas or a rumbling in his stomach, but one that had some seriously DEEP feelings toward this Jew who would have thought very low of the Samaritan in the social status realm. Compassion. This compassion, this deep movement inside his body, causes him to move toward this person who thought him to be of lower citizenship. Then in verse 34 the scripture says, “HE CAME TO HIM”. This compassion he felt, moves him in the direction of the helpless Jew and in four words, HE CAME TO HIM, the whole story turns.
I have primarily thought of compassion as a feeling, but after looking closer into what Jesus is teaching us hear, I see that compassion is a much stronger word than I had initially understood. Compassion gets its’ Latin root from the word compati meaning “suffer with”. Instead of compassion being defined as a feeling of love or even just pity, compassion is a synonym for empathy. The ability to “suffer with” another is the ability to have compassion.
Compassion in the story of the Good Samaritan helped save the life of the Jew laying helplessly on the side of the road. The Samaritan literally felt the feeling of the suffering Jew and was called to action because of this deep feeling. This is where I began to wonder how compassionate of a person I have been with others in my life.
I have not (to my conscious knowledge) been in a situation where my compassion could immediately save the life of another person laying helplessly on the side of the road, but I do pass by folks everyday who live on the street and are literally begging for help. My compassion for the people on the street has rarely stirred in me enough to make me do something like the Samaritan did when it says, “HE CAME TO HIM”. What do I do? Instead, I divert my eyes or give a half-smile when driving by and wonder what the circumstances were that landed them in that moment as I drive past. I could list tons of other examples that would prove my lack of compassion, but I think that God has a bigger lesson for me in this story. Jesus CAME TO US.
Hosea 6 says “He will heal us, he will bind up our wounds, he will revive us, he will restore us…as surely as the sunrises…HE WILL COME TO US.” He came to us. He chose to step out of eternity, to walk with us being fully man and fully God, he like the Samaritan, HE CAME TO US. He moved out of the comfort and perfection of heaven and entered into a fallen and broken world. HE CAME TO US. If HE can do that…then what is it that I can do?
Philippians 2:1-11 sums it up well…
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
How does this change your understanding of COMPASSION? How can we be people who live out a life of Compassion on a daily basis?
- The Children in the Road (gospelapprentice.com)