The Empathy of Jesus

Why Empathy is Important According to Jesus and the Gospels

“Because Jesus Christ suffered greatly, He understands our suffering. He understands our grief. We experience hard things so that we too may have increased compassion and understanding for others.”

— Joseph B. Wirthlin

From what was recorded in the Gospel about Jesus, we know that he was a good, generous, courageous, faithful, persevering, cunning man. His qualities were really many, but personally, what I admire most about him is the empathy that he always demonstrated to have, along with that ability to put himself in the other person’s shoes and to suffer with the one who suffers. 

Now we call that empathy and it seems to us a very modern concept, but the truth is that it is a quality of the human being as old as man, as the man who is sensitive to the feelings and needs of others, the people around you. Let’s find out what does the bible say about empaths.

Jesus and Empathy

Jesus and empathy

There is a Gospel passage in which this quality of Jesus is clearly seen:

“Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”  The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.”
(Luke 7, 11 – 17).

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32

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How did Jesus show his love and compassion?

Jesus ​​has compassion for people’s confusion (Mark 6:34). Jesus ​​has compassion for physical suffering (Matthew 14:14). Jesus ​​has compassion for people’s material needs (Matthew 15:32,36-37). Jesus ​​has compassion for people’s loneliness (Luke 7:12-15). Jesus ​​has compassion for the eternal destiny of people (Isaiah 54:8). 

What is the biblical definition of empathy?

In the Bible, Paul encourages Christians to “rejoice with those who are joyful; weep with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15). The apostle Peter also defined empathy and encouraged Christians to show compassion for others by “living in harmony” and practicing brotherly love (1 Peter 3:8).

There are many passages of the Gospel in which it is made explicit that Jesus and the Father require Faith to perform miracles. Faith, that is, on the part of the person who is going to benefit from that miracle. On some occasions, in fact, the opposite is made explicit in the Gospel: how sometimes Jesus could not perform miracles due to lack of Faith. For me this is something that is a bit mysterious, since Jesus and the Father can do everything. But it is like this.

Now, as then, God continues to habitually require that hope and that Faith of us to intervene actively in our lives. And the more hope and faith we place in the Father, the more we facilitate his intervention.

The case that appears in this Gospel passage is exceptional, because no one asks for Jesus’ help: that widow who was accompanying her son’s coffin to bury him at that time does not ask for anything and neither do those who were accompanying her. They do not ask anything of her and, therefore, they do not put their faith in her, but Jesus sees her, moves within her, feels sorry for her and gives her an unsolicited miracle. He gives her what she surely wanted most in the world and what she couldn’t even imagine she could give herself: she brings her son back to life.

Would Jesus think of how Mary would go through the same situation some time later? It’s possible, but we don’t know. The only thing we know is that Jesus knew how to put himself in the shoes of that widow and her pain touched his heart.

That empathy towards others, that understanding of the pain of those who suffer and that feeling their pain as their own is what Jesus also asks of us. And, of course, that we act accordingly, doing for them the same thing that we would like them to do for us.

Once you have that disposition, putting yourself in another’s shoes is not difficult, but you have to make it easier to do so. And for it to happen, in my opinion the first thing we must remove is the rush. Because with that hurry that we carry throughout the day to be able to finish the endless tasks with which we burden ourselves, we have little room left to look at the other and to try to put ourselves in their place.

We cannot perform miracles for others. Of course not. But we can put at their disposal what each of us has: knowledge, listening skills, money, advice, a shoulder to cry on, company in solitude, empathy. God does not ask us for more. Not less either.

Bible Verses About Compassion

Saint John tells us that Jesus, being God, was with the Father, receiving glory, became flesh and dwelt among us (cf. Jn 1, 1-14)

Saint Paul writes:

“Christ, being divine, did not covet to be equal to God, but rather emptied himself by taking on the condition of a slave. Assuming human likeness and appearing in the part of him as a man”

(Philippians 2, 5-7)

With these words the Scriptures show us the empathy of God who wanted to have a body like ours to feel like us and sympathize with our weaknesses, our frailties and our limitations, He felt hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain and suffered death. He wanted to have a heart like ours to share our feelings and emotions. He wanted to be immersed like us in the various vicissitudes of history.

He was born, lived and died poor, like most human beings; he felt fear, sadness and anguish; he suffered rejection, contempt, betrayal, abandonment, loneliness; he was a victim of injustice, mistreatment and irrational violence that comes from the evil that is in the hearts of those who have forgotten that we are human.

However, he did not allow his wounded and abused heart to be filled with hatred, resentment or desire for revenge, on the contrary, it was filled with comparison, forgiveness and mercy.

There is no human being who can identify with another human being as Jesus did and he did it precisely to later tell us: “I have given you an example so that you too may do as I have done with you” (Jn 13, 15)

Every time we hear “Christmas” let us meditate that this word speaks to us of the Nativity, that is, of the Birth of Jesus, who wanted to be born, live and suffer like us to teach us to live as he lived, serve as he served and love as he did. love. In short, he “taught us to be empathic”, since empathy is the ability of a person to understand and share the feelings, the suffering of others. As it is popularly said, “put yourself in another’s shoes”, that was exactly what Jesus did when he became a man like us.

To achieve this, we must have the ability to leave our comfort zone, uninstall ourselves, shorten distances and go to meet those who most need our friendship, understanding, solidarity and thus put into practice our ability to love and serve.

Saint Paul gives us a program of life telling us: “Have the same feelings among yourselves that Christ had” (Philippians 2, 5).

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1 thought on “Why Empathy is Important According to Jesus and the Gospels”

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    Ruby Lynette Turner

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