All you dads out there, I want you to think about how it feels to watch your children go through pain. Before I got married and had kids, I never really cried much. I made it through a forehead split open (ping pong injury), a thumb temporarily attached to the button on a football helmet, fingers smashed in a glue press and a broken leg in the last game of the season without a single tear.
But now, if I let my little girls down, or when I got the phone call at work this morning that my 8-month old son fell down the steps - I don't take that pain nearly as well. Dads (or really anyone who loves someone), maybe you can understand. The pain we could put up with just by clenching our fists and taking a deep breath isn't nearly as easy to deal with when it is inflicted on those we love. Fathers understand wanting to be able to do whatever we can to help our children. And for those of you with fathers like that - praise God, because they give you a glimpse of Him. And our heavenly father didn't just want to come and help. He did. He has. He does. Today, in our text, the people there had to declare: "God has come to help His people!"
It's a sad scene when Jesus and his group get to the city gate of Nain. There, coming toward them, was a funeral procession, led by the dead body of a poor widow's only son. A parent had to bury her child - and was now entirely alone, with no one to support her. A sad scene.
But notice, Jesus doesn't just bow his head and tell her he is sorry for her loss. He actually feels her pain. He sympathizes in the true sense of the word - suffers with her. And our text says, "His heart went out to her." That's the word that talks about his guts turning inside out - this was the pit-of-the-stomach groaning with sadness.
He felt her pain the way a parent feels for their child. He came in compassion. And yet, the picture is even more stunning, because actually, this lady kind of had it coming, didn't she? Jesus is true God, holy - and this woman is, well, human. And hers was no virgin birth. So every sin of hers made her an enemy of God. By rights, God shouldn't feel compassion for us - he should let us get what we have coming.
If there has ever been a time you have been less than compassionate when someone got what they had coming, when you rejoiced a little when the one who hates you had a setback, if you've ever hoped someone else would get the short end of the stick - ask yourself this: Why on earth should anyone have compassion on me when I've felt like that? Even more, why should God come in compassion for me when I keep disobeying him?
Why? Because that is who he is. God comes to help his people. He truly suffered with us - going through all the human pains the world could give him - for us. Think about how that whole plan of salvation would have made God the Father feel. Dads, would you ever offer up your son as a sacrifice to be the fall guy, especially for those that hated you? Never. Isn't our natural reaction to protect them from pain and hardship whenever we can?
But God the Father saw us, sinful as we were - and had mercy. He sent his son to pay the ultimate price. He sent his son to the slaughter to cover the gap of our imperfections that separated us from God, building that bridge between us and him with two boards and three nails and the blood of Jesus his Son that purifies us.
That is compassion. And that is how our God comes to us. Let's live in the joy and comfort that brings.