Unrestrained Compassion

Why are some miraculous healings and deliverances immediate, and some take much longer . . . or never seem to appear? I have witnessed all three before. Scripture describes many examples of the same experiences with the miraculous. Take for instance the story of the widow in Nain:

Jesus went to the village Nain. His disciples were with him, along with quite a large crowd. As they approached the village gate, they met a funeral procession—a woman’s only son was being carried out for burial. And the mother was a widow. When Jesus saw her, his heart broke. He said to her, “Don’t cry.” Then he went over and touched the coffin. The pallbearers stopped. He said, “Young man, I tell you: Get up.” The dead son sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother.

They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful—and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves, “God is back, looking to the needs of his people!” The news of Jesus spread all through the country. –Luke 7:7-17

Look what happened here. He was walking along, minding his own business and sees this funeral procession. The widow was torn up with grief that her only son was now dead. Not one in the procession could do anything to ease the pain of her loss, but his heart went out to her. As the text says, “When Jesus saw her, his heart broke.”

Amazingly, he only spoke two words: “Don’t cry.”

Doesn’t that seem rather cold? But I’m sure all of us have said that to someone who was hurting. I know I have. But when I said, “Don’t cry,” I actually meant, “Oh stop crying, that’s not going to do any good.” Like most of us, I’m sure, I can’t stand to see the hurt because I feel powerless to do anything about it. However, Jesus is never helpless. When He said, “Don’t cry,” He meant, “Not only do I hurt for you, but I’m also going to do something about the cause of your pain.”

So what did He do? Well, “He went up and touched the coffin.” Now realize this isn’t a coffin as we think of it, it was more like a stretcher—or more properly, a board or slate of some type—and the body was shrouded with a burial cloth. Now imagine Jesus walking up and touching this burial slat.

The first thing we are told is that the pallbearers stopped. I’m sure they did. They probably stood there dumb with their eyes bugging out because touching a dead body was a BIG no-no! The Lord was ritually defiling Himself! What they couldn’t realize, though, was that within a few days from this event He would literally take on the sins of the entire world—truly defiling Himself—to such an extent, in fact, that His Father would hide His face from him.

Now throughout His life and ministry Jesus had proved that He didn’t need to touch someone to heal them. He didn’t even need to be present. It seems that He touched because it came natural to Him. Now here’s something that is significant. The word used here is haptomai, which means”to connect, to bind.” It refers to “such handling of an object as to exert a modifying influence upon it.” The Lord literally connected Himself to the situation. We apply all kinds of salves and medicines for hurts. But Jesus took one look at this woman’s grief and applied Himself!

Now here is something to excite you: the Greek antonym for “touched,” is egkrateuomai. You can see it used in Galatians 5:22-23 when Paul talks about the fruits of the Spirit. It is translated: “self-control.” Hmm!

Jesus was acting out of exactly the opposite of self-control. Stick with me here. When Christ saw the woman in such agony and faced with such hopelessness, he literally cast off self-restraint and reacted!

Contrast this event with a previous miracle with a centurion’s servant in Capernaum. Look at Luke 7:1-10:

When Jesus entered Capernaum and There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well –Luke 7:1-10

Did you notice the differences here. In the widow’s case, the only prerequisite was her pain. Unlike the friends of the centurion, she never made any requests. She never exhibited any faith. In fact, we have no idea if the grieving mom even realized that Jesus existed or who he was. She was probably too enveloped in her own pain to notice. Also, Jesus didn’t wait for any special conditions or organ music or altar call, He didn’t even have any intention of using this for a time of teaching. Jesus simply ran to the woman in hopeless despair and just reacted with what came most naturally to Him–healing mercy.

I think this is jut a glimpse into what Jesus would do in in every one of our despairing situations if a greater plan wasn’t at stake. I believe what comes most naturally to Christ every time He encounters need is to instantly fix it. Is it possible the He exercises a tremendous amount of restraint to work any other way in the face of devastation?

A plan of profound importance seems to exist that sometimes overrides the miracles we desperately want. Abram waited several years before he saw the manifestation of Yehoveh’s promise. The Hebrews suffered in Egypt for almost 400 years, lived in the desert for 40 years.

But why?

Well, maybe God is making a cake! Seriously. He carefully selects the ingredients; then He mixes them until completely blended and next sets the mixture in an oven to be baked. Then he sets His heavenly timer for exactly the amount of time He knows is needed for this cake to rise and to become usable . . . 2 days? 7 months? Maybe 400 years. . . however long it takes, he waits.

Certainly he monitors the baking process, but in general there is no need for substantial intervention on His part. The cake will remain in the oven until the timer goes off, and it is finished baking.

Well, when God opens the oven, out pops your miracle. We don’t need all the details you just wait for His timer to go off . . .

Think of father Abraham:

When hope was dead within him, Abraham went on hoping in faith and believing that he would become “the father of many nations,” just as it had been said to him. With undaunted faith he looked at the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he refused to allow any distrust of a definite pronouncement of God to make him waiver. He drew strength from his faith, and, while giving glory to God, remained absolutely convinced that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Now this counting of faith for righteousness wasn’t recorded simply to brag about Abraham, but as a divine principle which applies to us as well.

Did you read that last sentence? The example of Abraham was recorded “as a divine principle which applies to us!” I don’t know when your miracle will come. But I do know that our Lord said, “When you pray, believe . . .” When you pray, it’s settled. It’s established. It’s yours!

Nickolas
Doulos Studies

(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)

I do thank you for your gifts.
It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.

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