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Jesus’s Immense Heart Beats For You

Read: Luke 7:1-17

After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 

And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” 

And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 

When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 

And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.

Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 

Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 

Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

Let’s focus on the quote, “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her.” Jesus’s heart went out to her in unmitigated compassion. Luke uses the strongest word possible here to describe Jesus’s pity. The root word refers to what is inside (the heart, liver, lungs), the viscera. It describes an emotion that has a physical effect:  Jesus felt for her.

This was typical of Jesus. Later, at a similar occasion, when Jesus observed Mary and Martha weeping for Lazarus, “he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (John 11:33). 

The word translated “was deeply moved” comes from an ancient word describing a horse’s snorting. It indicates that the Lord let out an involuntary gasp – the breath just went out of him. British poet E. V. Rieu comments, “He gave way to such distress of spirit as made his body tremble.” Jesus felt for the two sisters so much that he had a physical reaction. And his convulsive feeling gave way to tears. When he saw the widow of Nain, Jesus was again inwardly convulsed with compassion.

In ev’ry pang that rends the heart,

The man of sorrows has a part.

Jesus’s extraordinary compassion was grounded in his sinlessness and selflessness. Whereas our sin and self-focus inhibit our ability to care, Jesus’s sinless self-forgetfulness allowed the full exercise of his sympathy and pity.

From this we gladly infer that Jesus has a heart that is big enough for our sorrows. His compassion and his empathy are real. “His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22, 23). You may have such an immense hurt that you cannot even voice it. Perhaps your trauma has left you inarticulate. 

But he understands completely and sympathetically. Not hindered by personal limitations, Jesus’s immense heart goes out to you.

— R. Kent Hughes, retired pastor and author of “Disciplines of a Godly Man.” Adapted.