What It Means to Be Human: Pity

David Bast

Read: Luke 18:35-41

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. (v. 38)

The stoics were ancient philosophers who had developed a way of dealing with human suffering by practicing apatheia, which literally means “not-feeling.” The Stoics’ response to the misery of human existence was to cultivate apathy. How do you handle disappointment, pain, and loss? “This too shall pass,” said the Stoics. So don’t care that much.

Jesus of Nazareth was not a stoic. His example makes one thing very clear: the ideal life is not one with an attitude of detachment and indifference toward people. No, a life well lived is marked by pity for our fellow sufferers.

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” cried the blind man, in an appeal to Jesus’ pity. We tend to think of pity as a feeling—feeling sorry for someone. But Jesus did more than just feel pity for sufferers. He also took pity on them. Jesus gave the blind man his sight. Because he was more than simply a tenderhearted man, Jesus’ pity brought health and wholeness to those who turned to him for help.

Jesus’ pity—it is our future hope. Because he feels for us, he will heal us all, if not today, then when he awakens us from our last sleep. But his pity is also our present guide. Look around you. Do you see someone who is in pain? Let your heart go out to them. And do whatever you can to bring hope and healing to them right now. —David Bast

Prayer: We bless you, Lord, that you feel for us.