This man loved children, respected women, honored his parents, obeyed the law, stood up for the oppressed, enlightened the masses, healed the sick and prayed every day. This was no ordinary man. The words written about him have impacted the lives of more people than any other person in history.
It is not just the words — but the spirit within those words — that rings so true that countless people have sought to walk in this man’s footsteps and tell others about the message he preached regarding loving others, making sacrifices and living for the Kingdom of God.
One of the things that touched me most about this kind and caring man is the way he treated others — how humble and reasonable he was, how sociable and thoughtful he was — especially in comparison to the religious leaders of his day.
Consider one example at Matthew 15:21-28, which records the only documented trip of Jesus with his disciples beyond the borders of Israel.
It reads, “Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.’ Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.’ The woman came and knelt before him. ‘Lord, help me!’ she said. He replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Then Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed at that moment.” — New International Translation.
Think about that for a moment. In verse 24, Jesus explains his reason for ignoring the Canaanite woman, stating “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” But the woman kept pleading with him, prostrating herself before him.
He then told this woman in verse 26, that it was “not right,” to take the children’s bread and give it to the dogs. Here Jesus drew on the biased view of Jews toward other nationalities. But he appears to use it to test her faith. How so?
According to the New King James Version, Young’s Literal Translation and the New World Translation, Jesus did not use the Greek term “kynos” for “dogs.” Instead he softened the word by using a Greek term of endearment, “Kynaria” for “little dogs” or puppies. These small pets would be the only kind allowed inside a home. The woman picked up on Jesus’ reference, rather than take offense, and extended his illustration to her advantage.
Although Jesus had made it clear that he came to minister to God’s people in Israel, Jesus did the very thing he said he was not supposed to do — he yielded! He commended the woman for her faith and cast the evil spirit out of the woman’s daughter!
So, what can we learn from the way Jesus dealt with this woman? Is he rigid or is he reasonable? Is he willing to change his mind? Is he more concerned about people and their plight, rather than following a code of rules? You decide. Jesus was humane. He loved people. He did what his heavenly Father wanted him to do, which was to show mercy to “whosoever believeth in him” (John 3:16) — including a quick-witted woman whose faith that Jesus was her savior — as much as he was the Jews’ — brought her and her daughter instant relief. What compassion he shows for those who demonstrate their faith!
Another of my favorite accounts had to do with Jesus being sensitive to the special needs of others. For example, those who are deaf may be easily embarrassed, especially in a crowd. It seems Jesus took note of one man’s particular nervousness and gave him individual attention, even using gestures the man could relate to.
Mark 7:32-35 says, “Some people brought to him a man who was deaf and who also had a speech defect. They begged Jesus to lay his hand on him. Jesus took him away from the crowd to be alone with him. He put his fingers into the man’s ears, and after spitting, he touched the man’s tongue. Then he looked up to heaven, sighed, and said to the man, “Ephphatha!” which means, “Be opened!” At once the man could hear and talk normally.” — GOD’S WORD Translation.
By indicating what he was going to do for this deaf man, putting his fingers in the man’s ears and touching his tongue, Jesus showed a love for interacting with people — not just healing them from a distance.
Yes, Jesus was sensitive to the feelings of others. The mere sight of the afflicted touched him so deeply he was moved to relieve their suffering, according to Matthew 14:14.
We honor this Son of God by imitating his sensitivity and compassion for others. As he himself said at Matthew 11:29, “Learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls.” — New World Translation.