Jesus’s character does not change over time. So, we know what Jesus is like now because we know what he was like when he was living here on earth. As we read the Gospels, we discover not only what Jesus was like but also what he is like now. We discover not only how he related to people then but also how he relates to people now. So we can read the Gospels with this in mind and we’re going to look through some examples today.
To those who feel loss, Jesus says, “Don’t cry” (Luke 7 v 11-17)
Jesus is in the town of Nain and sees a funeral procession – the only son of a Widow has died. The woman is facing deep emotional loss but also financial loss as women were unable to earn an income and she’s now been left alone. When Jesus meets her, “his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Luke highlights Jesus’ compassion and we can be sure that Jesus has that same compassion when we are in distress – his heart goes out to us. And Jesus says to you, “Don’t cry”. It’s not a rebuke, it’s a comfort. Don’t cry, there is hope.
The story ends with Jesus raising the boy from death showing that Jesus is not sat in heaven uninterested in our lives. He wants to show us compassion and to give us hope when we have loss.
To those who feel shame, Jesus says, “Go in peace” (Luke 7 v 36-50 & 8 v 42-48)
Luke tells 2 stories about 2 different women and Jesus gives them both the same words, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”. Both women are filled with shame. The first is known by all to be living a sinful live. In that context, it’s remarkable what she does, in front of everyone. She approaches Jesus and washes his feet and through this gesture, Jesus takes her shame and says, “Go in peace, your sins are forgiven.”
The second woman has a chronic bleeding that makes her unclean as well as anyone who touches her. Instead of rebuking her touch, Jesus takes her shame and says, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” What shame do you have? What is your big secret? If you trust Jesus, then he says to you, “Your sins are forgiven … Go in peace”.
To those who feel anxious, Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid” (Luke 8 v 40-56)
Jairus’ daughter is perilously ill, so he asks Jesus to come to his house to heal her. We often fear for our children. While Jesus is on his way to the house, Jesus is interrupted by the sick woman spoken about above. You can imagine Jairus’ distress. And then the worst happens, word comes from his house, his daughter has died. But Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed”. Jesus goes on to raise the daughter from death.
Many of us fear death. But with Jesus, death is no longer something to be feared as death is not the end. Jesus offers us eternal life. Jesus says to us today in the midst of fear, “Don’t be afraid; just believe”.
Jesus can sympathise with us because he came to earth and took a human body and he still has a human body in heaven. He knows what it is like to be human and to be tempted. He sympathises with us in our weakness and he sympathises with us in our temptations. By keeping his human form in heaven, Jesus has chosen to leave himself vulnerable to feeling our pain. Through Jesus, God also now feels what we feels.
Think about how becoming a Christian has changed you – the Spirit working within you has created a new concern for your Spiritual life and a new compassion for others. The same Spirit lives in Jesus, so he also has the same compassion and mercy for others. And even though we can suffer from ‘compassion fatigue’, Jesus can cope with the emotional strain. He feels the suffering of all his people without needing to limit his empathy. He will always show compassion and concern for us.
And when we sin, Jesus still has compassion for us and shows us pity. Jesus’ love for us is not altered by our sin. Jesus’ love for us is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. So there’s no need for us to feel loss, shame, or anxiety.
- Last week we ended with a challenge to identify what you’ve done to impress others and then hear the words, “It is finished”. How have you got on?
- Imagine Jesus looking at you from heaven. What expression do you think is on his face?
- Imagine three stories from the Gospels. In each case, ask yourself, “What does this story, these words, this miracle show me about Jesus and the way he relates to people like me?
- When do you feel loss, anxiety or shame? What difference would it make to hear Jesus say, “Don’t cry; go in peace; don’t be afraid”?
- What aspect of Christ’s character or work particularly matches your current concerns?
Whenever you struggle this week, think of Jesus looking on with sympathy (not disappointment).