Some time after the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the Jews began to see Him as a threat to their power over the people. As more and more began to follow Him they began to make plans to destroy Him. As He went from place to place He healed the sick and cast demons out of those who were afflicted with evil spirits. He told those who attributed His power over demons to Beelzebul, the prince of the demons. Jesus, denying their charge, responded that what He was doing was evidence of the kingdom of God then being present among them.
“But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Matthew 12:28).
How was this so?
It is so because He, the One who came to be King, was living the kingdom life among them. What they saw Him do was a living illustration of what the kingdom would be like when it came in its full manifestation. The kinds of things they saw Him doing, the citizens of the kingdom would be doing.
In His life and attitude He portrayed God as perhaps men had never thought of Him. As He went about among the people of His day He healed them of their diseases and afflictions. Among many Christians this has been seen merely as evidence that He was deity and proving His power over nature. In fact these should be seen as manifestations of the character of God.
There were different things that are said to have moved Him to compassion for people. No doubt this quality was behind all His miracles. But it was not just sickness that prompted His compassion as the following passages show.
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;” (Matthew 9:35-37; Mark 6:34).
The confusion and helplessness of people moved Him to compassion, prompting Him to prepare His disciples to “shepherd” these “sheep.”
“When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14).
He had compassion on sick people and healed them.
“Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” (Matthew 15:32).
He cared that people were hungry and fed them.
“And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’” (Luke 7:13).
And because of compassion He raised the widow’s son from the dead.
In doing all these things He was manifesting the kingdom of God – God’s rule over all creation. Sickness, disease, hunger, sorrow and death are all in the world because of sin – because of the curse that came because of Adam’s sin. They are evidences of the fact that this world is not what it was made to be.
Every miracle Jesus did and every compassionate act that His followers do was/is an undoing of the curse. Every miracle Jesus did declared that the kingdom of God was near at hand. Every compassionate act of His “kingdom people” is evidence that the kingdom of God has come into this world.
“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well.” (James 2:8).
The royal law of which James speaks here is the law of the king. It is, therefore, the law of the kingdom. Every time Jesus acted out of compassion and love for someone He was modeling the kingdom – showing people then and showing us today what God is like and what the kingdom is like.