The Sympathy of Christ
Matthew 8:16, 17
When the even was come, they brought to him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word…

He has finished a long day's work, and has gone into the house for rest. Even there he finds work to do, and he heals Peter's wife's mother. Meanwhile a crowd is collecting at the door. They have brought their sick from all quarters, and Jesus cannot let them come in vain. Tired as he is, he goes forth to them and heals them nit. So touching a proof at once of the people's need and of Christ's sympathetic help leads the evangelist to see a fulfilment of the ancient prophecy of the" Servant of the Lord." Here the sympathy of Christ is revealed to us.

I. SYMPATHY IS THE MOTIVE OF CHRIST'S LIFE-WORK. It was sympathy that led him to take up the great task of saving the world. Sympathy is also apparent in the details of that task. There have been philanthropists whose private conduct seemed hard, who were negligent of the misery at their feet, who took little interest in individual cases of distress, while they manifested the greatest energy in pressing on large measures of humanitarian reform. Christ is not thus partial in his kindness. Moreover, we find no attempt at working miracles for any other purpose than the help of the sufferers. No doubt Christ was aiming at the glory of God throughout (see John 2:11; John 11:4); evidently his miracles were visible parables, setting forth in concrete acts the grace of his spiritual work. Yet the motive in his heart was not didactic, but sympathetic. His first idea was not to teach a lesson, but to relieve distress. He was "moved with compassion."

II. THE SYMPATHY OF CHRIST EXTENDED TO BODILY TROUBLE. He healed the sick. He cared for men's bodies as well as their souls. Often he reached their spiritual natures by first of all showing himself their Friend in temporal affairs.

1. Thus he encourages us to pray to him in sickness for our sick friends, and in regard to earthly troubles generally. Christ does not disdain these things.

2. Thus, also, we are urged by the example of Christ to help the suffering in their bodily needs. God gave miracles to the first century; he has given medicine to the nineteenth century. It is our duty to use what means we have for healing the sick. Medical missions are most Christ-like.

III. THE SYMPATHY OF CHRIST IS EFFECTIVE. It is more than the tear of pity. Christ feels with the sufferers, and that is much; but he goes further, and relieves them of their sufferings. He cured the sick. He freed the possessed. He reclaimed the lost. His spiritual work now is practical. When we open our hearts to the love of Christ we receive more than compassion; we receive redemption.

IV. THE SYMPATHY OF CHRIST IS COSTLY, He takes our infirmities; he bears our diseases. This means more than the removal of those troubles; the strong words cannot be satisfied unless we understand them to teach that the afflictions are a burden to Christ. The sympathy which costs us nothing is shallow and worthless. Christ's sympathy was deep and real. It was pain to him. Perhaps the healing process was itself painful, as he felt the "virtue" going out of him. However that may have been, his coming into this world, his endurance of sights of misery, and his deep compassion for the distressed, wrung his heart, because he felt that the sufferings of his brethren were his own sufferings. All this was a shadow of his great anguish when he bore more than sickness, when he bore the sins of the world on the cross. - W.F.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:

WEB: When evening came, they brought to him many possessed with demons. He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick;

The Touch that Cleanses
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