The Compassion of Christ

I was reading this morning from John 13 and was struck by a thought as I read vv 23-26:

Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke.
Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?”
Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

In the Classic Sci-fi Flick of Yore, The Matrix, there is a scene in which Agent Smith, the bad-guy-computer-program-in-human-flesh, tortures Morpheus, the quintessential man of faith. As Smith tortures Morpheus, he articulates his loathing for the “stench” of humanity he is surrounded with inside The Matrix.

A little more stage-setting: last night we had the opportunity to take our youth group to the ESF Youth Conference, hosted by FBC Marilla. It was a great evening, and it brought back a lot of wonderful memories from my youth. Toward the end of the evening there was a big pizza dinner in the church’s gymnasium. Imagine with me the scene of 400+ teenage boys and girls herded into a gymnasium. By the end of the night, it smelled like a JV locker room.

And now we jump backward to this scene of The Last Supper. Thirteen men are gathered in an upper room, and one of them, The Messiah, God in human flesh, has just washed all the others’ feet. Do you see the scene? The Messiah then reclines on a couch to resume His dinner. And the disciple whom He loved was “leaning on Jesus’ bosom.” Do you see it? This is profound love. This goes far beyond condescension. This is God-almighty! And He is in no way put off or disgusted by the sights and sounds around Him. He is right there with them, harboring no bitterness or disgust over the fragility of their flesh, holding no spite over their human frailty. No, He is so close to them that one of them can lean back on His chest! This is how personally He loved them. This is how intimately He identified with them.

Chances are, if you’ve heard me preach you’ve heard me marvel over the profound implications of the Incarnation, as seen in Phil. 2:6-8. This is simply another facet of that marvelling. That this Jesus, this Messiah, did not despise the humanity that He took on and surrounded Himself with as He came and lived and died…for me.

And speaking of profundity, this has profound implications to the way i treat those around me…from the junior-high boys to the hitchhiker on the side of the road. If this is “the mind” (Phil. 2:5) which is to be in me, which was also in Christ, there is no room for despising in others the same flesh I am wrapped up in.