What motivated the miraculous ministry of Jesus to the down trodden? By His own admission we know that He never acted independently of the Father. Therefore what He did was always consistent with the nature of God. Two blind men cried out to Jesus asking for mercy, and to have their eyes opened. “Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him” (Matt. 20:34). “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them” (Matt. 9:36). “Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people’” (Matt. 15:32). Because of His compassion many like the two blind men followed Him, and wouldn’t that still be true?

However, numerous times Jesus healed the sick and then told them not to tell anyone. If someone is miraculously healed, we would likely tell everyone. Why wouldn’t Jesus want everyone to know that He had the power to cure every kind of illness? Because He didn’t come to restore sight to the blind, or hearing to the deaf, or healing for the leper. He came to die for our sins, and to be resurrected in order that we might have new life in Him.

It is the fickle nature of humanity to focus on the temporal and the natural to the exclusion of the eternal and the spiritual. I don’t want to deal with my issues, just give me something to eat and heal my physical infirmities please. If He fed the 5000, or healed the sick, that is all people would seek from Him. The fact that He did meet temporal and physical needs is probably what shortened His public ministry to only three years. Then why did He do it? Because it was His nature to do it, and aren’t you glad that you serve a God who is moved with compassion.

A large church had 26 doctors in their congregation and they wanted to offer free wholistic health to their people and community. All the doctors would donate two hours a week. Pastoral counselors were also available. Knowing my commitment to wholistic health, they asked if I would be their director. I declined, but I warned them that people would probably seek only physical healing. A year later the doctors were burned out, and they stopped the service for the reason I cautioned them about. Every rescue mission faces the same dilemma. Just give me a meal and a place to sleep please. Fortunately they know this tendency and they offer additional help for the few who will seek healing for their soul.

Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy [hesed, i.e. compassion], not sacrifice” (Matt. 9:13). “Hesed” in the Old Testament is translated as “God’s loving kindness.” The point is, we too should be moved by compassion, and historically the Church has fed and clothed the poor, established hospitals, clinics, recovery ministries, etc. The world doesn’t care how much we know, until they know how much we care. We can’t preach the good news and be the bad news. Being compassionate, however, is not just a means to an end. It is the character of God displayed in His children, but what a tragedy if the recipients of godly care forfeit the eternal for a bowl of soup.

Dr. Neil

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