The Compassion of Christ

The sufferings of Jesus

The sufferings of Jesus are often referred to as The Passion of Christ, and for good reason. Upon Calvary’s hill He proved beyond measure how passionately He loves us. Either He was totally crazy, or He was crazy about the world He sought to save. I choose to believe the latter. Not only do we see undeniable passion at the cross, we also see mind-blowing compassion. When I’m suffering, I typically throw a pity party. As the featured guest, I think only of me. Such was hardly the case with Jesus. He had a world of others on his mind.

“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wifefoot_ofthe_cross of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” (John 19:25-27)

It was the women who were most faithful to Jesus.

They were the courageous ones. Like scared rats on sinking ship, the apostles high-tailed it. And weren’t they each out to prove who among them was greatest? It’s at the cross the “great debate” is finally settled. Even ex-hooker/demon magnet Mary Magdalene has those deserters beat!

We do find one notable man at cross.

The only apostle who had guts enough to stick with Jesus to the bitter end was none other than John – affectionately known as “the disciple whom He loved.” I suspect the three Mary’s had a lot of love for him as well. After all, men that don’t run off are a rarity.

John and the three Marys gather at the feet of their Lord. His body is a bloody pulp. He’s dying from His many afflictions, and from suffocation. Miraculously, Jesus musters barely enough strength to speak. “Behold, your son.” he moans to His mother as if to say, “Look at me, Mom. As much as this pains you, I’m here for you as well.”

She knew this day would come.

Back when Jesus was dedicated on the eighth day, Simeon had reminded Mary that her own heart would be pierced. (See Luke 2:34-35) As much as she understood her Son’s purpose, nothing could have prepared her for this day. Nothing could have prepared her for seeing Jesus bleed from a torturous cross.

Jesus suffered more than anybody could ever imagine.

But He didn’t think of self, not even for a moment. Among the world of others on His mind was His mother. Who will after her? Someone faithful, who won’t bail when the going gets tough. Why, yes! The disciple whom He loved! “Behold your mother,” Jesus tells John. From that time on, John and Mary became roomies.

You must admit, this says something about John’s character. Imagine someone entrusting you with the care of their mother. How eager would you be? “What about one of your own siblings?” you might hint. John may have thought the same. After all, Jesus had several brothers and sisters. One would think they had a higher obligation than that crusty fisherman, no matter how much Jesus loved him. Besides…

John was temperamental.

This was no secret to the One who nicknamed him Son of Thunder. Plus, John was known to be arrogant and argumentative, fighting over things like, “Who’s the greatest!” He sincerely thought he was. So much so, he had convinced himself (and his mother) that he was worthy of his own throne in heaven – right next to Jesus!

Why the Lord chooses whom he does is a complete mystery.

His choices seldom make sense. They seem to be the total opposite of what we might do. It doesn’t make sense He chose me to serve as pastor at Calvary Austin. Others are much more qualified. Not to mention, more deserving and wise. However, the Lord doesn’t base His decisions on such things. He doesn’t concern himself with who’s most obligated, or qualified, or deserving, or noble, or mighty or wise. If the truth is to be told, He’s happy to use fools!

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are (Why?) that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1 Cor.1:27-29)

I’m sure you’ve must have seen the Charlie Brown Christmas program. Do you remember that Christmas tree he picked? It was a real loser – scrawny as a twig. Regardless of its many flaws, Charlie had compassion on it. Perhaps he saw what it could become. And, indeed, it was transformed into something glorious! The tree didn’t make itself that way. It was the work of the Peanuts gang that gave it new life.

God is a little like Charlie Brown.

Compelled by His great compassion, He chooses flawed people. Through His magnificent work, these human ash heaps are transformed into something glorious. It’s His work. And to Him be the glory!

This is exactly why John was chosen. It is highly doubtful that his peers were saying, “Of course, John! It makes perfect sense that he should care for the mother of Jesus! He’s such a caring guy!” On the contrary, I imagine folks were pointing upward. “To God be the glory! He’s done such a great work in John. If the Lord can use Him, He can use anyone!”

John may not have been the most eligible to serve Mary, but he did seem to be the most available once the others fled. I suspect this was the one thing he did have going for him. I think of the opportunities I’ve had in ministry. Others were certainly more gifted. How’d I get picked? I just happened to be there.

This is true for all who serve at Calvary Austin. We didn’t send out a search committee. There were those who just happened to be there. “Why doesn’t God use me?” you may ask. Hey, hang around! He can’t wait to do a work in your life! Regardless of your flaws, He sees only the beauty in you. Allow Him to bring that beauty to the surface. People around you will surely be amazed. “To God be the glory!” they’ll say. “Great things He has done!”

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