Monday, September 17, 2012

Compassion: Thoughts on Trinity 16

Compassion. That's what Jesus had for the mother. σπλαγχνίζομαι, the feeling you get in your guts when you see others in pain and suffering.

Interestingly, Luke uses this verb and noun in four places. And in each place it is at the very center of the episode. It marks the turning point, the climax of Jesus' teaching and work, of God's nature (Luke 1:76-79; 7:11-17; 10:25-37; and 15:11-32).

So what does that tell us? Perhaps that the miracle is not the main thing. But rather the disposition of God toward sinful men. That Jesus is the one who suffers with those who suffer. That He knows their pain, that He identifies fully with them, and takes that pain and suffering into Himself (Heb 4:15). Jesus has σπλαγχνίζομαι because He is the σπλάγχνον.

σπλάγχνον was at first a reference to the inner parts offered for the sacrifice. Later it came to denote a more subjective feeling in the heart or the guts. And finally, it pointed to the heart.

In Jesus we have the very heart of God. In Jesus we have the tender mercy of the Father. In Jesus we have the sacrifice that God gives to take us back as His children. In Jesus the compassion of God takes up flesh so that it was necessary that He go to His Passion, to suffer and die and be raised on the third day.

Jesus' compassion--His suffering with the mother, His suffering for the mother--gave rise to one of the loveliest sentences Luke wrote: " . . . and Jesus gave him back to his mother" (Luke 7:15). They are brought back together, reconciled out of death into life. 

He can only do that because of His Passion. He can only do that because He is what reconciles us to the Father and to one another. His Passion gives us back to God. It gives us back to one another, whether that separation is caused by death or by sin. "And He gave him back to his mother." He will also give you back.

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