There’s a touching story in Luke 7 involving Christ and a poor widow who had just lost her only son. To compound her grief, in the culture of the ancient near east, when her son died she also lost her only means of financial support. How would she live? Who would take care of her? As the story unfolds, the funeral procession was just leaving the city on the way to the grave as Christ and His disciples were approaching. Was this a coincident or a divine appointment? I choose to believe it was the latter. As Christ took in the scene that was playing out in front of Him, the text says he had compassion on her. We often read in the gospels that the heart of Christ was moved with compassion, so that in itself should not surprise us. It’s what He did next that was so unexpected. It says that He came and touched the open coffin. For a Jew to touch the coffin containing a dead body made them ceremonially unclean and unable to participate in the religious ceremonies of worship until they had gone through a ritual cleansing. To most Jews, this would not only be an inconvenience but something that they would religiously avoid. But not Jesus. I can visualize Him approaching the coffin and laying His hand on it, not carelessly, but tenderly and with purpose. It was a significant act – it was also a powerful moment. As He place His hand on the coffin Christ was not only demonstrating that death held no power over Him, but He was identifying with the mother in her deep grief, as if to say I understand; I know what you’re going through.
I witnessed a similar act in our service yesterday. As we sang, one of our men was touched by the words of one of the songs. Just two days before we held a memorial service for his wife and unknown to anyone else, this was a song that held special meaning for her. In his grief, he began to cry and that’s when it happened. One of our dear ladies left her seat and walked to his side. I don’t think that she said much, if anything, to him. She just tenderly touched his shoulder as if to say I understand; I know what you’re going through. Most people in the service didn’t see what happened. That’s not important. What’s important is that she expressed the compassion of Christ to someone in their time of need. As a Christian, she was motivated by the love of Christ and she communicated that love through a simple touch.
1 Peter 3:8 tells us that we are to have compassion for one another. Our hearts are to be moved by the needs of those around us. One of the interesting things about Christ is that whenever the Bible says that He was moved with compassion there was an action that followed. Compassion without action is just pity and pity doesn’t help anyone. As Christians our compassion should lead to helping people. Not necessarily solving their problems, but letting them know that they are not alone in their struggle. That may simply be a kind word or a tender touch that says I understand; I know what you’re going through.
Be aware of people that God brings into your path this week who may need just a touch of compassion. It may just be a divine appointment.
Stay in the Word