People Need Sympathy (Part 1)

Scholars have debated why Jesus wept on this occasion, but most agree He felt deep sympathy for Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters. We should not be surprised at this, because the Bible abounds with references to Jesus’ compassion:

“And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep’ ” (Luke 7:13).

“Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way’ ” (Matthew 15:32).

We could cite many other passages pointing to Jesus’ great compassion toward those enduring suffering. God cares for us, even for those facing the loss of a loved one. In a world where people experience hardships, getting little or no sympathy from others, God’s people need to stand ready to offer sincere compassion to both relieve suffering and point others to Jesus’ love.

We need to recognize that people are not always “worthy” of our compassion, but who is? We were all dead in trespasses and sin, but God lifted us up when we were sinners (Romans 5:8). We cannot therefore measure out our compassion based on worth or merit. We do so based on need. People need others to show sympathy. So as Jesus approached the death scene, what did He behold? A beloved man had died, along with his two sisters, hurting with grief and sorrow. How did Jesus respond? He wept. He wept knowing He would shortly raise Lazarus from the grave. He could have brushed off the weeping onlookers and assured them of what He was about to do. Instead He wept with them. He cared for them.

In a world where sympathy runs thin, we should demonstrate Jesus’ love by showing that we care. When we care, those who receive our compassion will see that God cares.

People often joke that John 11:35, “Jesus wept,” is the one verse they could memorize because of its size. But that might work for us, too. If we can capture just a small portion of that compassion Jesus manifested, we will be able to touch lives.

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