Thursday, April 21, 2011
Today’s Topic: True Compassion
Today’s Text: Isaiah 42:1-4 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.”
His earthly ministry is almost over. There are just a few more details to teach His disciples about what will be happening in the next few days and beyond. According to the traditional timeline, tonight Jesus will meet with His disciples in the upper room. The things He will tell them will deeply distress them. They will be confused and concerned for their own futures, let only their Lord’s. Each one will respond differently to the things they will hear in an attempt to cover their pain.
Peter will get very vocal and bold, refusing to have his feet washed and claiming that he will endure to the end and suffer death if need be. It was a cover-up for his pain to keep his assumed image intact.
They will all question the sincerity of their hearts and their commitment levels when Jesus announces that one of them will betray Him. They quickly have a meeting and elect John to ask Him who it is so they can hopefully ease their own minds.
When Jesus announces that He is leaving, and that they will join Him someday, Thomas reveals the confusion of all of them when he says that they don’t get it. Where are you going, and how do we get there?
Even after answering them and telling them that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that they could arrive at the Father’s home through Him, Philip asked to see the Father. How embarrassing to ask a question for which you should have already known the answer.
Imagine the pain they must have been experiencing. For three years they have followed Jesus based on some cultural and religious presuppositions. Every step of the way Jesus had gently addressed those assumptions and declared to them nuggets of truth that could have changed their perceptions. They didn’t understand. They still thought that the outcome was going to be the installation of a King on the throne of David and that they were going to get to be in the inner circle of leadership in the new Kingdom. Now it was beginning to dawn on the darkness of their minds that there was a different plan. It hurt to see the brightness of the light that began to shine.
Their hearts were wounded. They were bending severely under the weight of their misunderstanding. The fire of their enthusiasm was reduced to a mere smolder of smoke as they struggled with their own identity and worth.
But Jesus – the servant of God in whom He delights – does not cry out or raise His voice. He does not bend them further until they break. He does not extinguish what remains of their fire. Instead He says, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be£ in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
What comfort that was! What compassion was revealed! Jesus the encourager. Preparing Himself to suffer and die he reached out to help those who were hurting far less than Himself. They could not know the depth of their Lord’s pain, even if they were not so focused on their own. But that did not matter to Jesus. He reached out to them and lifted them out of their gloom and despair and gave them hope.
Take heart, my friend. Whatever it is in your life that is bending you to the breaking point or extinguishing all the fires of enthusiasm in your heart, Jesus will not break you or snuff you out. He will respond to your need with compassion and lift you out of your gloom and give you hope. Let Him adjust your perspective!