A Compassionate Heart

Jeff Munroe

READ : Mark 1:40-45

Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him. (v. 41)

The Gospel of Mark gets right down to business. There is no prologue, genealogy, or birth narrative. Immediately (and, indeed, immediately is Mark’s favorite word) Mark jumps into stories that tell us what Jesus was like. The account of Jesus healing a leper is one of the first Mark uses to reveal the character of Jesus.

The Greek word used by Mark to describe Jesus’ response to the leper is the same word used by Paul to head his list of Christian qualities in Colossians 3. In Mark it is translated “pity,” in Colossians it is translated “a compassionate heart.” You might be surprised to learn the Greek word literally means “bowels” because the Greeks thought the bowels were the seat of human emotions. No Greek word could convey tenderness as effectively.

The opposite of compassion or pity, especially in the tender Greek sense of the word, is hardness or harshness. When Christian hearts become harsh or severe, it is a perversion of what God calls us to. The eyes of Christ look at the world lovingly, with tenderness and compassion. When Jesus saw the leper, he didn’t only see the disease that made him repulsive to others. He saw the pain of being an outcast and the misery of being unclean. He viewed the leper with a compassionate heart. We can be thankful that he sees you and me that way too.


Lord, let us be like Jesus and have compassionate hearts.