Compassion Isn’t Calculated


Remember the Pythagorean theorem or any of Newton’s laws of motion? For most of us, these concepts have no real bearing on our everyday lives—a point we argued relentlessly in middle school! Yet in our quest to maintain control at all costs, we foolishly seek a convenient if/then statement or algebraic equation to “sum up” the ways of the God of the Universe. Jesus’ compassion toward the broken, his disregard for decorum, and his constant line of questioning messed with the rigid world of the capable and the smart. His compassion was compelling, his ways uncontainable, and he refused to be defined by mortals.

  • Have you ever been overwhelmed by the Lord’s compassion towards you?  Why, or what happened?


14:1One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” And they could not reply to these things.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Describe the setting of the story. What day was it, where were they, what was happening?
  2. Dropsy is a swelling of parts of the body due to fluid build-up. If not a matter of life and death, why would Jesus risk angering the religious crowd to heal on the Sabbath?
  3. How did Jesus appeal to their intellect?
  4. How do you respond when your understanding of how you think life should work is challenged?


If we’re being honest, we cling to the formulas we’ve constructed our lives upon because they give the illusion we can keep God at a safe distance. Jesus repeatedly demonstrated the Father’s heart of compassion for the sick, the helpless, the outcast, and the despairing. Time and again, those who played it safe by thinking they had God all figured out were left confused or angry or empty. Daily, we have the choice to approach God as one in need of his touch or as master scholar content to find our own solutions.

  • Believe, today, that the Lord “longs to be gracious to you” and “will rise up to show you compassion” (Isaiah 30:18, NIV). Confess your belief to God.
  • Ask him for courage to live humbly, conceding that his ways are higher than yours.