Throughout the four Gospels readers are flooded with examples of the compassion of Christ. In His miracles, Christ shows His compassion by giving sight to the blind, making the lame walk, or curing people with extreme sickness. In His parables, He consistently shows that His desire for His followers is to show compassion. However, the greatest example of the compassion of the Messiah came at the end of His earthly ministry. Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for sinners is not only the greatest example of compassion in His ministry, but it is the greatest expression of compassion in all of history.
Isaiah 53 provides a picture of the extreme compassion of Christ. The first half of verse 3 says, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” God came to the earth as man, and men rejected Him. At first reading, this verse appears to speak of the men that were physically present during the crucifixion, or possibly more broadly this verse appears to apply to the Jews of the day. However, Isaiah, writing at least 600 years before the life of Christ, says at the end of the verse, “He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” Why would Isaiah include himself with those who offended Christ?
God is a holy God. Holiness means that He is set apart, there is no one else like Him. One of the most important ways in which God is holy is that He is set apart from sin. This means that God cannot be in the presence of sin. Isaiah included himself as an offender of Christ because he, just like all of us, had sinned against God throughout his life. All people have sinned, all mankind has offended God—all of us are included in verse 3 as those who have despised God.
But then verse 5 describes the ultimate compassion of Christ. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” Moved with compassion, God became man to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). He died a sacrificial death in the place of man, so that we could be saved. If one dies for someone who never wronged him, it is a great sign of compassion. But Christ’s sacrificial death for those that sinned against Him is the ultimate display of compassion.
Through the compassion of Christ, all who turn to God in repentance and faith are forgiven of all their sins. On the cross, Christ took the wrath of God so that sinners could be spared from that wrath. We can go to God in the same way David did after he sinned: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1). We can ask the Lord to blot out our transgression against Him, and trust that in His compassion He will.