I didn’t expect to moved. The final episode of the first season of The Chosen dramatizes Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. “Aren’t I unclean to you?” she asks in response to Jesus’ request for water. “Won’t you be defiled by this vessel?”
“You picked the wrong person,” she says later in the conversation after Jesus reveals himself as the Messiah. “I came to Samaria just to meet you,” he replies. “I am rejected by others,” she says. “I know, but not by the Messiah.”
Imaginative, to be sure. But the account in John 4 is no less moving or shocking. “Our Lord invites us to learn of him,” observes Charles Simeon. “To encourage us, he declares that he is meek and lowly in heart. Never was this disposition more displayed than in his conversation with the Samaritan woman. She was of the most abandoned character; yet he condescended to instruct her. And, when she slighted his proffered mercies, endeavoured to recommend them to her more favourable acceptance.”
The compassion of Jesus for weak sinners takes my breath away.
The past week of my life has run on two tracks.
The first track is human frailty: the pastor who admitted his feelings of shame when he sees himself on video; the other pastor whose friend attempted suicide last week; the well-known pastor who succeeded in taking his own life. I attended the Zoom funeral of a 25-year-old man on Saturday, and later got news that another ministry colleague is facing a serious illness. Another ministry friend is in hospital in critical condition.
We’re weak, not just physically, but in every way. It’s hard to walk with much swagger these days. We’re needy. We have no idea what hurts and burdens others carry.
The second track has been the compassion of Jesus. I keep getting glimpses of that compassion: in an episode of a TV show, in Scripture, in books I’m reading, texts I receive, and conversations I’ve had.
Jesus’ compassion is always true. Sometimes it’s hard to believe because we’re doubters by nature. Other times it’s hard to escape. Its reality hits us in our deepest needs and draws us into his heart, even as we recognize our weaknesses.
Gentle and Lowly
“Meek. Humble. Gentle. Jesus is not trigger-happy. Not harsh, reactionary, easily exasperated. He is the most understanding person in the universe. The posture most natural to him is not a pointed finger but open arms.” I can’t get over these truths in Dane Ortlund’s book Gentle and Lowly.
“He is accessible. For all his resplendent glory and dazzling holiness, his supreme uniqueness and otherness, no one in human history has ever been more approachable than Jesus Christ.”
Could anything be more shocking or more needed than the compassion of Jesus?
And it’s not just a historical fact either. It’s true right now. Our Saviour is a merciful High Priest, and at this very moment he’s interceding for us. It doesn’t get any better than that. Our weakness is no barrier to his compassion. Thank God for Jesus’ heart for people like us.