The Ultimate Example of Empathy
Jesus is the ultimate example of showing empathy. He was sent from God to earth and born as a human to save mankind and offer eternal life. His humanity allowed Him to have human experiences, which in turn, gave Him the ability to empathize with us. We read in Hebrews 4:15 that Jesus is our “great high priest” and that He empathizes with our weaknesses because just like us, He was tempted in every way, yet He did not sin.
The gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—are full of stories where Jesus felt empathy for people. In Luke 7:11-17, we learn about a widow’s son who just died. Jesus saw the crowd of people carrying the boy’s body and when He saw her, He had compassion. So much so that He told her not to cry and then turned around and raised her son back to life. Jesus felt compassion for her and then chose to do something about it.
We can feel compassion and be sympathetic because someone is in pain or in a tough situation, but empathy is a little different—it’s active. It seeks to help provide for the need or lighten the load. We may say that we want to meet the needs of others and truly “love one another,” but without empathy, we miss the opportunity to put it into action and relieve their pain. Empathy requires taking steps toward someone’s pain. We may not be great at it right away, but with some practice, we can learn to show empathy like Jesus.
Over the next four days of this Plan, we’ll look at what the Bible has to say about empathy and how we can grow in ours in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus.