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        Are you among those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, had an accident and been temporarily laid aside, or recently encountered a great disappointment?  At the time of these experiences you probably had many friends who called on you to express their sympathy.  The letters of comfort and compassion were so helpful and strengthening.  But the days and weeks have slipped by, the calls have become less and less, and the letters and cards have dwindled.  And now, after the interest of others has faded, you are beginning to feel the real sting of loneliness.  How soon our friends forget our misfortunes.  They are concerned with their own duties and responsibilities, and in spite of their original good intentions you are now neglected.  Thank God for those few who do remember--but even they may not be able to continue, for new emergencies arise in their own lives and in the lives of others which must now occupy their attention.  There is One, however, who never forgets, whose interest never fails.  Instead of His sympathetic attention waning, it increases as time slips by.  He is the only One who could say, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee", and "lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age."   His name is Jesus!  Jesus, in the flesh, was the demonstration of God's sympathy!!!  Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, continues to demonstrate God's undying sympathy towards us.

        We have spent 29 messages exploring the compassion of Jehovah God.  We spent 14 messages looking at every place in the Old Testament that the words "compassion," "compassions," and "compassionate" occur.  We reviewed all 12 of the Hebrew words that were used, and we distilled our learning down into 7 principles concerning the compassionate nature of Jehovah God.  Then we spent two messages comparing God's revelation of Himself as a compassionate God with Webster's definition of the word compassion.  We tried to add clarity and depth to our perception of God's self-revelation by looking at the nuances suggested by the synonyms of the word "compassion."  Then we took 13 messages watching God demonstrate His compassion on earth in the form of His Son Jesus Christ, in the New Testament.  We did this primarily by exploring the Scriptures where Jesus is said to demonstrate compassion.

        We are now ready to begin to summarize the New Testament teaching on compassion.  Let's begin our summarization by entertaining the question, "Why does Jesus have such compassion for mankind, i.e. sinners in general and His children by faith in particular?"  Certainly the obvious answer to this question is that it is His nature to demonstrate compassion.  He is the second subsistence of the tri-unity of God, i.e. He is the second person of the Trinity.  He is co-equal with God in every divine attribute, and so is compassionate even as Jehovah God is compassionate.

        But the incarnational answer, i.e. the answer which deals with His life on earth as God manifest in the flesh, is found in

Hebrews 4:15, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin."

Jesus was, in His flesh and still is in His God-Man/Man-God hypostatic union (i.e. the union of the divine and human natures of Christ in one hypostasis or essence, substance, or person), able to feel the same feelings of weakness that we feel; because He was tempted in all things that we are being tempted in, but without sin.

He was tempted to fight His own battles against the injustice He faced, rather than trust His soul to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

He was tempted to provide His own food by turning stones into bread.

He was tempted to exalt Himself and receive the kingdoms of the world before the predetermined time, by simply bowing to Satan rather than suffering upon the cross.  He was tempted with significance or impact outside of the plan of God.

He was tempted to tempt God in pride, by visually displaying who He was by casting Himself from the temple for the angels to save Him.

He was tempted to refuse the cross as He struggled in the Garden of Gathsemane finally saying, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thy will!"

He was tempted in all areas, i.e. the flesh, the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, but there was no sin in His cognizance (He knew no sin); no sin in His conduct (He did not sin); and no sin in His character (In Him was no sin).

        Therefore, because He has been tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin:  He can sympathize with our weaknesses.

4834 sumpatheo {soom-path-eh'-o} from 4835; TDNT -

1a)    to be affected with the same feeling as another, to sympathize with

According to Webster sympathy is

"4 a : the act or capacity of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another : the character or fact of being sensitive to or affected by another's emotions, experiences, or especially sorrows b : the feeling or mental state brought about by such sensitivity : the expression or demonstration of this feeling."

What particular feeling of mankind is it that Jesus can relate to?  He can relate to  our weaknesses.  He can relate to the weaknesses of the flesh!

0769 astheneia {as-then'-i-ah}  from 772; TDNT - 1:490,83;

1)      want of strength, weakness, infirmity

1b)    of the soul; want of strength and capacity requisite, to understand a thing, to do things great and glorious, to restrain corrupt desires, to bear trials and troubles.

Even though Jesus Christ never yielded to temptation, His temptation while here in the flesh was the basis of His sympathy.  Even though this cannot be fully understood, some would argue that Jesus could not really be tempted because He did not have a sin nature.  Let me hasten to state that neither Adam nor Eve had a sin nature, but they sinned.  How did Adam and Eve sin without a sin nature?  The sin nature gives humans the propensity or proclivity to sin, not the possibility of sin.  The possibility of sin is in the soul and the flesh.  Even though they did not have a sin nature, they had intellect, emotion, will, and flesh.  Pride and self-will can precipitate sin.

        Let me hasten again to state the fact that Satan did not have a sin nature either.  God created Satan, and we know that God cannot create or have anything to do with evil because, "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all."  So, God created Satan sinless.  Yet the Bible states that sin was found in him.  Now where did this sin come from, since God created him sinless and he had no sin nature?  It seemed to issue from Satan's five "I wills" in Isaiah 14:13-14.  Pride certainly appears to be the basis of Satan's sin of rebellion against Jehovah God!

        So, as we have already stated, Jesus was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin.  He was tempted because He had intellect, emotion, will, and flesh.  He was tempted, at least, to exert His will over God's, but He never did this!!!  He testified of Himself,

"I do always those things which please the Father!"

        Remember the words of the Hymn:  "Yield not to temptation for yielding is sin..."  Jesus did not yield to temptation.  Therefore, according to the correct theology of the song, Jesus did not sin, but Jesus was tempted.  It was that temptation that gave Him the basis of sympathy.  He is affected with our feelings.  He can relate to the weaknesses of the flesh.  He is sensitive to the experiences, struggles, and sorrows of human flesh.  He can relate to our human struggles to overcome temptation and bear up courageously under trials and troubles.  So, we can see that Jesus has great sympathy towards His children through faith, and sympathy is a synonym of compassion.  Compassion is "a deep feeling for and an understanding of suffering with an accompanying desire to relieve that suffering"  (Webster's Third New International Dictionary).

        But the compassion of Jesus went beyond sympathy to empathy.  He demonstrated empathy for us through His incarnation, death, burial and resurrection.  This empathy can be seen in Philippians 2:5-9.  Would you turn there with me please.  Read along with me silently.

        Jesus existed in the same form of God.  Jesus was of the same nature and essence as God.  He was equal to God in every divine perfection, characteristic, or attribute.

        But Jesus didn't regard equality with God as something to be grasped, i.e. He didn't regard equality with God as something to be exploited for His own advantage.

        Jesus then became flesh.  Mary was found to be with child conceived of the Holy Spirit.  Mary was His mother, but God was His Father.  He was born and we have God manifested in the flesh.  In this incarnation, Jesus emptied Himself.  He did not empty Himself of His deity, He did not empty Himself of His nature as God, He emptied Himself of His manifestation as God.  He voluntarily veiled His pre-incarnate glory and voluntarily waived some of His divine prerogatives during His time on earth.

        Not only did He empty Himself of His form of God, but took upon Himself the form of a bond-servant being made in the likeness of men.  He was King of kings, Lord of lords, Prince of princes, the Creator and absolute Potentate of the universe, but He came as a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger.  He took upon Himself the likeness or similitude of flesh, for even though He was human He did not have a sin nature.

        Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Obedience must be the height of humiliation for God.  God the Creator and Ruler of the universe, who spoke worlds into existence, had to humble Himself by becoming obedient.

        Therefore God highly exalted Him, and bestowed upon Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

        In short, Jesus empathized with us by becoming one of us forever!!!

        Before we can go any further, we must have a definition of "empathy."  "Empathy" is, according to Webster:

"2 : the capacity for participating in or a vicarious experiencing of another's feelings, volitions, or ideas and sometimes another's movements to the point of executing bodily movement resembling his."

The operative word in this definition is "vicarious."  What does Webster mean by the word "vicarious?"

Webster gives two definitions or usages for the word "vicarious:"

"2 : performed or suffered by one person as a substitute for another or to the benefit or advantage of another."


"3 : experienced or realized through imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experience of another."

        So, to keep in context with our present line of thought, Jesus empathized with us by vicariously experiencing all of our ideas, feelings, volitions, and movements from a sympathetic perspective and a substitutionary perspective.

He empathized with our flesh.

He empathized with our humiliation.

He empathized with our death.

He empathized with our future resurrection.

He empathized with our future glorification and reward.

Jesus totally understands and can relate to the weaknesses of the flesh.

        But He also has sympathy for us, empathizes with us, because He vicariously experienced the weaknesses of the flesh by substituting Himself to bear the sins of the world on our behalf.  He became our human representative representing us in all aspects, yet without sin.

Isaiah 53:5, "But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed."

He became flesh and substituted Himself for us.  He was pierced through for our transgressions.  He was pierced through with a spear, on the cross, for our transgressions.  He was crushed for our sins.   He was chastened for our well-being.  He was scourged for our soteriological healing, which will one day include our bodily healing.  He vicariously empathized with us.

        His substitution for us in life culminated in His substitutionary death for us:

2 Corinthians 5:21, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."


        Howard W. Ferrin wrote, "Human hands are poor at removing our tears.  If they succeed one time, other tears will come that they cannot wipe away.  Only the hand that's made by the Spirit can reach the deep source of those tears or dry up the streams that issue from them.  God's handkerchief is embroidered with love and tender sympathy, and it is the pierced hand of Jesus that puts it to the eyes of the weeping ones.  He will dry every tear:  tears of misfortune and poverty, tears of bereaved affection, tears of doubt and discouragement, tears of pain, tears of neglect, tears of yearning for what cannot now be ours; yes, each tear will be fully wiped away by Him who knows our every sorrow."

(Now is the day of salvation.  Come to Jesus, now!)


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