The Compassion of Christ

He knew it would blow His cover. After all, He knew everything.

He knew that healing this leper would change the very nature of His ministry–that He would no longer be able to “openly enter a town” but would have to hang out in “desolate places” and have the people come to Him. He knew it. But He did it anyway.

In the past, my primary observation when reading of the cleansing of the leper in Mark 1 has been that Jesus touched the leper. He could have just commanded the leper’s healing, but instead the Christ chose to touch him. The perfect skin of the Son of God coming in contact with the diseased skin of a man marred by sin. The touch of the Creator come in holy flesh felt by the creation on his destroyed flesh.

And then I ask myself of this observation, “How come?” Why did Jesus touch the man rather than just speak his healing into being? Answer: because Jesus was “moved with pity” (Mk. 1:41). And I invariable end up in awe afresh at the compassion of the Savior.

Literally His “bowels were moved.” At His deepest core Jesus was moved by the sinner’s plight. The uncleanness. The loneliness. The hopelessness. And so the Divine reached out His hand and and made contact with the defiled. Oh the depths to which Jesus would reach compelled by love, compassion, pity, and mercy.

But this morning I’m struck by the fact that more than just making a leper clean, more than risking being viewed as defiled Himself by touching him, that Jesus, for the sake of the compassion he felt for the man, was willing to also, in a sense, compromise His ministry.

And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to Him from every quarter.

(Mark 1:43-45 ESV)

By my nature, I’m a risk mitigator. I tend to try and look down the road, anticipate pitfalls or areas of sub-optimization, and make decisions that will avoid the risk or minimize the impact of something going wrong. If I had been Jesus, knowing full well that the guy who stood before me wanting to be healed had a reputation around town as Loose-Lips Louie, I might have taken a pass. Might have left him in his miserable condition. Might have rationalized that for the sake of the greater good, for the sake of protecting the ministry, for the sake of continued ease of access for the many, that leaving this one in bondage to his disease was a pretty good cost/benefit decision. Thank God I’m not Jesus!

Jesus was moved with pity (ESV). He was filled with compassion (NIV). Deeply moved (MSG) He looked at the carnage sin had wrought on the man before Him and was willing to respond . . . even if it meant touching his dirty skin . . . even if it meant adding fuel to the fire for His detractors . . . even it meant altering His approach to ministry and having to hang out more in desolate places. Even if it meant hanging on a Roman cross — and it did.

Oh, the compassion of Christ! Oh, the love of God! Oh, the depths of grace!

That we too would experience the touch of His hand.

And that He would come not to be served, nor to minister at His convenience or in a manner that would benefit Him most, but that He would come to serve and serve out of deep compassion for the sinner. Come to serve, even giving His life as a ransom for many (Mk. 10:45).

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

What wondrous grace! To Him be the glory!


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