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Cry of Compassion

05/2001
   

Jesus wept. This is the shortest commentary of Jesus' prayer in the gospel of John. The essence of this cry was the expression of the Father's greatest cry of compassion for humanity! The truth of God's compassion is vividly highlighted in the book of Hosea. Hosea was a contemporary of the prophet, Amos, and his final prophetic word was released just before the downfall of Israel in 722 BC. 

The book of Hosea portrays two human relationships to picture vividly God's endearing love: That between husband and wife, and father and son. In the first relationship, God instructs Hosea, "Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord" (Hos 1:2). 

In loving obedience, Hosea marries a prostitute named Gomer, and she bears him two sons and a daughter. God names each of the children and employs their names as prophetic signposts to speak to Israel. Then He commands Hosea, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans" (Hos 3:1). However, God remains faithful towards His unfaithful wife, the whoring nation which persists in committing adultery against Him. 

The second relationship typifies the imagery of a father and son. It illustrates and demonstrates one of the most heart-rending pictures of God's compassion. The moving account in Chapter 11 expresses the caring heart of the Father towards the waywardness and stubborn tendency of Israel, which goes its own way. Herein lies the greatest love of God: The Lord was longsuffering towards Israel and in the hands of the Father, there is no rod even as He yearns with compassionate grief for Israel to repent. Through Hosea, we see the poignant agony of God's heart (Hosea 11:8,9 ; 14:4a). This is also the heart of Father God towards His wayward church today!  

Jesus wept. Behind these words lies a great theme of intercession. It is the cry of compassion. Our model of compassion should be one demonstrated in the days of Hosea, for compassion is the heartbeat of true intercession. 

Intercession is derived from the two Latin words, "inter" and "cedere": Inter means "between" or "among" and cedere means "to go", "to move" or "to yield". Literally, intercession is going between two parties by paying the price of involvement and intervention. The parable of the good Samaritan sees the active involvement of the hands of compassion towards a dying stranger (Lk 10: 30-35). Hosea, as the intermediary party between God and Israel, pays the price of sacrifice by marrying the prostitute, Gomer.  

Compassion in Latin is derived from two words, "com" meaning "with" or "together", and "pati" meaning "to suffer" or "to hurt". The combined meaning expresses the description of one who suffers with someone in need or one who "hurts together" with those experiencing pain. Compassion is more than mere pity. It is a dynamic love that seeks eager involvement in the suffering of others. Hosea is seen seeking to suffer sacrificially to sooth and comfort the agony of God's heart. This is the earmark of an intercessor: Giving up rest and comfort in praying for the relief of suffering victims.  

The way of intercession is clear-cut: We must pray for the fields of humanity with the tears of compassion. Without the heart of someone like Mother Teresa, God's people could not have reached the poor living in the slums in Calcutta, India. Likewise, without a tender heart, we cannot pray effectually. The heart of intercession is the intercession of the heart! Our intercession must match the cry of compassion. This is the real lesson behind the words of the apostle John which say "Jesus wept".  

Saint John of the Cross once remarked that "at the end of our life, we shall be judged by love". Those who sow the seeds of prayer watered by the tears of love shall have an enduring reward on that great day. Let us cry out for God's love to overflow within us so that it can pour out onto others. Remember, Jesus wept.  

 

 
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