THE COMPASSION OF JESUS
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"When the Lord saw her, His heart went out to her and He
said, 'Don't cry.'" Luke 7:13
The fronds of the desert palm-tree are never so
beautiful, as when seen thickly gemmed with the dews of the Eastern
With reverence may we say the same of the Heavenly Palm.
Jesus is never so gracious or attractive as when we are called, as here, to
note His look of compassion—His tears of sympathy—denoting the tenderness of
divine human affection. Observe, it was the sight of woe (the
contemplation of human misery) which at Nain stirred to its depths that
Heart of hearts.
"Forth from the city gate,
As evening shadows lengthen o'er the plain,
And the hushed crowd in reverent silence wait,
Passed out a funeral train.
"Chief of the mourners there,
Slow following, with feeble steps, the dead,
In the sad travail of the soul's despair,
Bowed down her stricken head.
"For him she wept forlorn,
Of care the solace, and of age the stay,
Whose silver cord was broken, ere the morn
Had brightened into day."
It would seem as if the Lord of Love could not look upon
grief, without that grief becoming His own. In the similar case of Lazarus,
it was not the bitter thought of a lost and dead friend which opened the
fountain of His own tears. This it could not be; because four days
previously He had spoken in calm composure of his departure; and when He
stood in the graveyard, He knew that in a few moments the victim of death
would have his eyes rekindled with living luster. At Bethany (as here at
Nain), it was simply the spectacle of human suffering that made its
irresistible appeal to His emotional nature. The rod of human compassion
touched the Rock of Ages, and the streams of tenderness gushed forth. "When
Jesus saw Mary weeping, and the Jews weeping which came with her…Jesus
wept." "When the Lord saw" this poor widow, "He had compassion on
her." He hears her bitter, heart-rending weeping in the midst of the
mourners, and it is worthy of observation—utters the soothing, sympathetic
word, before He utters the Godlike mandate.
Nor should we overlook the fact that it was but a word
He uttered. This reveals an exquisite and touching feature in the
Savior's humanity. It attests how intensely delicate and sensitive, as well
as true, that humanity was. When we meet a mourner after a severe trial, we
shrink from the meeting; glad, perhaps, when a sad and dreaded call of
courtesy is over. There is a studied reserve in making reference to the
loss; or, if that reference is made, it is short, in a passing word. The
press of the hand often expresses what the lips shrink from uttering.
In that vivid picture we have of patriarchal grief, Job's
friends and mourners sat for seven days at his side, and not a syllable was
spoken. It was so here with Jesus. He (even He) does not intrude with a long
utterance of sympathy. With a tear in His eye, and a suppressed sob, all He
says is, "Weep not." It was the same afterwards with Mary at Bethany.
There was not even the one word; nothing but the significant tears.
Behold, then, the beautiful and heartfelt condolence of a
Fellow-mourner—"the Brother born for adversity." "When the Lord saw her,
He had compassion on her!" That weeping, forlorn woman had no lack of
other sorrowing friends. Her case seemed to be matter of notoriety. Many
went out to mingle their tears with hers; but the sympathy of all these
could only go a certain way. They could not be expected to enter into the
peculiarities of her woe. Human sympathy is, at best, imperfect;
sometimes selfish, always finite and temporary.
Not so the sympathy of Him who joined the funeral
procession. He could say, as none else can, "I know your sorrows."
The condolence of the kindest friend on earth knows a limit—that of
Jesus knows none. Who knows but in that gentle utterance of tender feeling,
and in the deep compassion which dictated it, the Son of Man, the
virgin-born, may have had in view another "Mother," whose hour of
similar bereavement was now at hand; when His own death was to be "the
sword" which was to "pierce her soul." The calming word, doubtless, further
pointed onwards to a happier time, when in a sorrowless world, "God shall
wipe away all tears from off all faces."
Remember the Savior and sympathizer of Nain is now
the same! He had compassion—He has compassion still. He who
stopped the funeral casket on that summer's night in the plains of Jezreel
ever lives, and loves, and supports, and pities; and will continue to
pity, until pity be no longer needed, in a world of light and purity and
"And thus He always stands,
Friend of the mourner, wiping tears away;
Wherever sorrow lifts her suppliant hands,
And faith remains to pray.
"Wherever the woe-worn flee
From the rude conflict of this world distrest,
Consoling words He whispers, 'Come to Me,
And I will give you rest!'"
"It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day,
and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain."