The Joy of the Wilderness – Part III

During the 3 year ministry of Jesus here on earth He healed the sick, cast out demons, raised up the dead, made the broken-hearted whole and performed other great miracles. Yet one distinguishing feature that surrounded all these events is that, when Jesus met someone with a need, “He had compassion” on that person and it was this compassion often coupled with the other person’s faith, that led to a breakthrough. Even when the person’s faith was not strong enough for a breakthrough, Jesus still had compassion to do something concerning the situation [Matthew 9:36, Matthew 14:14, Matthew 20:34, Mark 6:34]. 

Prior to the start of His ministry, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted. Through this experience, Jesus learned first-hand what the human race had to deal with and what they had to overcome when it came to Satan and his schemes. Jesus who was fully God, endured what you and I have to endure on a daily basis and  yet He overcame. Due to this, we know that “we do not have a High Priest who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning” [Hebrews 4:15, AMP].  Also, on the cross of Calvary when Jesus died for us, He felt abandoned by His father because “he became sin who knew no sin that we might the called the righteousness of God” [2 Corinthians 5:21]. When He became the embodiment of sin, He lost his fellowship with the Father. Yet, just as Jesus overcame in the wilderness of the desert, He overcame in the wilderness of the grave and because He came through victorious, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” [Hebrews 4:16, NIV].  We have this confidence because know that Jesus understands what it is like to be tempted and persecuted. We have this confidence because we know He is compassionate towards us, knowing that we will need His mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. We know that He is compassionate because He knows that it is only through Him that we can overcome; overcome sin, sickness, poverty, disease and death. We know that He is compassionate because “He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able [immediately] [to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering]” [Hebrews 2:18, AMP]. This was the same compassion He showed towards those He met who needed healing, needed to be raised from the dead and mending of a broken heart, etc. This compassionate nature of Christ was epitomized when Jesus wept” prior to raising up Lazarus from the dead [John 11:35]  .

Compassion is a very important trait that every Christian ought to possess “just as your Father is compassionate” [Luke 6:36, NLT]. As born again Christians, we have the nature of Christ in us; that compassionate nature that was exhibited through selflessness and in making a positive change in the lives of others. Yet it is often  difficult to show compassion towards other people, especially when we have not been in their shoes or shared in their trials or temptations. Without compassion,  it is very easy for us to stand on the side lines and criticize other people and pass judgement on them. Without compassion, it is easy to stop praying for someone to be saved when you see no visible change in them. Without compassion, it is easy to kick someone who is already down, instead of lifting Him up. Without compassion, it is easy to seek revenge or get excited when the person who hurt you also gets hurt. Without compassion we will see someone with a need and just pass them by, even in the church. It is compassion for a soul, knowing full well where they will end up, that drives us back to the prayer closet regardless of how much they keep messing up. It is compassion that will cause us to give to those who  are in need, even if it costs us something. It is compassion for another person, seeing that person as God does, that will cause us to help lift up a fallen Christian, knowing full well that we are to be careful lest we also fall. It is compassion that will cause us to let go of an offense knowing that “they know not what they do”. 

Compassion is not something you can buy in the store. It is a character trait of the born again Christian, and a joy of the wilderness which usually comes through having been in the wilderness. And as we go through the wilderness we know that He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” [2 Corinthians 1:4, NLT]. Yes, as we come out of that wilderness we too will have the heart like Christ, the heart that had compassion to preach, heal and cast out demons. We will see the world and have compassion and “go and preach the gospel to all men”, knowing that the solution to this world is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

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