Introduction: My wife thinks that I need to improve when it comes to
sympathy. Whenever someone in the house is sick, she knows my first
thought is “I hope I don’t get that!” When I see some tragedy in the
life of another, my mind goes to what that person did or failed to do
to avoid that tragedy. Why? That allows me to believe that tragedy
won’t befall me. Then there is the problem of memory. A member of my
church will tell me of the sickness or death of a relative. Next week
it is likely that if I don’t personally know the relative, I’ve
forgotten! A number of years ago, I started working with a remarkable
man who modeled sympathy and compassion. I have learned a great deal
from him and today I’m much better than I used to be. Our lesson
today is about the greatest model of compassion and sympathy – our
Lord. Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Jesus and Healing

    1. Read Matthew 9:35-36. We have yet another reference to
      Jesus’ “church centered” preaching. Why did Jesus also
      heal? (“He had compassion on them.”)

      1. Notice the text explains Jesus’ compassion. How are
        sick people “harassed” and without a protector?

    2. Let’s continue with the way Matthew presents this. Read
      Matthew 9:37-38. How are diseases and sickness related to
      a lack of workers?

    3. Read Matthew 10:1. How does this text help solve the
      problem we have been discussing? (First, Jesus authorizes
      some new workers to fight illness and disease. Second,
      Jesus refers to the “evil spirits”: the workers on the
      other side who are creating disease and sickness. When
      Jesus reveals that the ill are ( Matthew 9:36) “harassed
      and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd,” He shows us
      that Satan and his minions are harassing us with disease.
      Jesus wants us to work to heal disease and sickness.)

      1. Do you think that Satan and his minions are still
        creating disease and sickness?

        1. If so, why are we not still curing disease and
          sickness as part of our preaching of the good

  2. Jesus and Raising the Dead

    1. Read Luke 7:11-12. Why is this mother a special case?
      (Three reasons. She has lost her husband. She has lost her
      son. She has lost support in her old age because she has
      no other sons.)

    2. Read Luke 7:13. Have we any reason to believe that Jesus’
      attitude toward death is the same today?

      1. A number of years ago I visited a church in
        California and taught a lesson on the story of Job. A
        member invited me to her home after church so I could
        talk with a couple who was suffering. It turned out
        that the couple’s parents and children were driving
        on a freeway very close to where I lived in Virginia.
        An accident occurred, and all were killed. They lost
        their parents and their children all at once. Put
        yourself in my place, what would you say to them?

        1. Tell me how you would talk about the attitude
          of Jesus towards death?

    3. Read Luke 7:14-15. I would have loved to raise this
      couple’s parents and children to life. The problem is that
      Jesus let them die. In this story about the widow of
      Nain, Jesus intervenes and reverses death. How do you
      explain that? Why are only some people immediately raised
      from the dead?

      1. I have a sermon about timing. It argues that whether
        Jesus raises your loved one to life now, or waits
        until the resurrection, it will not matter – the
        other side of the resurrection. Is that a reasonable
        way to look at this?

        1. What if the person who died is unlikely to be
          saved? What do you say then?

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 13:12-13. What does this say about our
      ability to understand the ways of God? To understand the
      conflict between good and evil?

      1. If we cannot explain the reason why something
        happened, should we try? Or, could that make things

      2. What does 1 Corinthians 13:13 say we can know? (That
        God loves us. Of all of the complexities about God’s
        ways, the clearest of His attributes is love. He died
        to save us.)

    5. Read Colossians 3:12-14. Notice the five characteristics:
      “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
      How is humility involved in our discussion of sympathy?
      (We need to acknowledge what we do not know. The fact
      that our understanding now is like that of a child, the
      fact that we see a “poor reflection” now, should cause us
      to be cautious about what we say about the will of God to
      those suffering grief.)

  3. Jesus’ Conflict

    1. Read John 11:1-6, John 11:21, John 11:32 and John 11:37.
      Are the complaints about Jesus’ delay valid?

      1. How many people had Mary and Martha seen Jesus heal?

      2. Is this the same complaint that we have today:
        “Jesus, if you were willing, you could have saved my
        loved one?”

    2. Read John 11:33-35. How do you explain this? Since Jesus
      could have come in time and saved Lazarus, why does Jesus
      weep at his death?

    3. Read John 11:41-44. Now that you know this, what do you
      think was Jesus’ reason for delay? (He planned to
      resurrect Lazarus.)

      1. If Jesus knew all along that He planned to resurrect
        Lazarus, why did He weep? (He not only loved Lazarus,
        but He has compassion on us. This says volumes about
        Jesus’ attitude toward suffering that He could
        prevent but does not. It also shows that God has a
        “master plan” when it comes to making these kinds of

        1. What appears to be God’s “master plan” here?
          (Notice that John 11:42 says “that they may
          believe that You sent Me.” See also John 11:4.)

  4. Holy Spirit

    1. Read John 14:25-27. Why does Jesus speak of peace and not
      being afraid just after He says the Holy Spirit is coming?
      (The idea is that the Holy Spirit will continue Jesus’
      work. The “God is with us” idea will not change.)

    2. Read 1 John 3:17-20. We have discussed in earlier lessons
      in this series God’s plan for the poor to work – work is a
      part of almost all Biblical programs to aid the poor. When
      you see a “brother” in need, how do you decide whether you
      should help?

      1. What do you think the verses mean which refer to our
        “hearts” either being “at rest” or “condemn[ing]” us?
        (We will know if we are doing the right thing because
        of the reaction of our hearts. “God is greater than
        our hearts.” God will influence our hearts to know
        the right thing to do.)

    3. Read 1 John 3:21-24. How can we know our “hearts” are
      sending us the right signals? (God says the Holy Spirit
      will guide us. We are likely to have naturally “hard”
      hearts. But, the Holy Spirit working in us is greater
      than our hard hearts.)

      1. Re-read 1 John 3:21-22. The subject in 1 John 3:17 is
        “material possessions.” Recall that we started out
        asking why we are not today countering Satan and his
        minions by healing diseases and casting out evil
        spirits. What does 1 John 3:22 mean when it speaks of
        receiving “anything we ask?”

        1. If “anything” includes the power to heal, is it
          because we are not pleasing God and we are not
          following the Holy Spirit’s impress on our

    4. Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. How does this say that we can
      comfort others? (By the suffering in our lives. This says
      that Jesus suffered, and we will suffer. But the comfort
      that we receive from God is something that we can share
      with others.)

    5. If you ask me, I prefer the healing side of this rather
      than the “share the comfort from my sufferings” side.
      Think again about the story of Lazarus. How does it fit
      both sides of the picture of comfort? (Mary and Martha
      (and Jesus) suffered when Lazarus died. But, when Jesus
      raised Lazarus from the dead, He gave comfort and hope to
      all who suffer when a loved one dies.)

    6. Friend, I’ve shared with you that sympathy and comfort are
      an area in which I am on the path to improvement. Will you
      determine today, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to show
      kindness, sympathy to those in need of comfort?

  5. Jesus Ministered to Their Needs.