‘Compassionate people are geniuses in the art of living, more necessary to the dignity, security and joy of humanity than the discoverers of knowledge’ – Albert Einstein
Look at this short inspirational video about how leaders can – and should – grow in compassion (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uY6hQzQJwfo).
36 One of the Pharisees asked [Jesus] to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.
39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Observation and reflection questions
- Give brief answers to better understand the universal lesson in this account:
- What were the Pharisees known for? And can you see it displayed in this story?
- How is this woman described in this account?
- Picture the scene where Jesus and the other guests reclined next to the table for dinner, then this woman came in sobbing, washing Jesus’ feet with her tears, drying it with her long black hair, and finally rubbing it with fragrant perfume.
- Why did she cry? Why would she make such a public scene (knowing she is not welcome in this “righteous Pharisee’s” house!)? Why did she pour expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet?
- What bothered the Pharisees about this scene? Why were they troubled’ by Jesus (lack of) response?
- Why was Jesus not bothered by her presence?
- Why was Jesus not bothered by her display of affection?
- What as Jesus’ response to Simon [and the other pharsisees?] [hint: note the emphasis in the initial phrase “do you see this woman”].
- What was Jesus response to her?
Personal reflection and Application
Where the Pharisees saw an immoral sinner, an uninvited prostitute coming to disrupt their holy gathering, Jesus saw a repentant, broken worshipper. Jesus looked not at her past or her clothing or lifestyle – he intently looked at her, until compassion welled up and mercy flowed from his heart. And that’s how we grow in compassion – by intently into the eyes of someone until we can see how similar we are.
- Recall one or two instances in your life where you received compassion and mercy from someone in your time of need.
- How did compassion happen?
- How did compassion make you feel?
- How did you respond to the compassion?
- How did that instance of compassion affect your life?
- Memorize this phrase from Psalm 86:15 “You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion; you are gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.” Keep this phrase in your mouth and heart today as you interact with every person today – see where compassion can well up in your heart and kindness can be sown.
Pray that God open your eyes to see how he sees people, and for his compassion to flood you heart.