The Four Faces of Jesus: The Empathetic Son of Man (Part 9) 5-7-17

And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:9-10)

Discrimination has always been a theme that has plagued humanity throughout its entire history. Man somehow has always discovered a way to keep this nightmare ongoing in society. Tragic ideals such as “separate but equal” or the infamous “class system” have numbed valuable human emotions such as compassion and empathy. In olden times, this concept of dividing the people based on their financial gain and bestowing upon the wealthy the title of “nobility” has filled history with horror stories that are unimaginable to believe were enacted by a fellow man. It is no wonder the apostle Paul warned his son in the faith that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1st Timothy 6:10). It is important to point out that the apostle is warning against greediness and not being wealthy. For this reason, the apostle advises the rich to “be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (1st Timothy 6:18). During the Master’s tenure on earth, Gentiles, women, and the poor certainly knew what it was to be humiliated by discrimination. Roman, Greek, and Jewish societies were notoriously discriminatory toward the poor. From the pages of history, it is evident that to be poor in those times was synonymous of being accursed by God. Empathy and compassion were a rarity during those troubled times; sadly, even in our time they are difficult to encounter. The British Pakistani novelist Moshin Hamid once wrote, “Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” Assuredly, Hamid illustrates the person on the receiving end of empathy. Although his intentions are to bring enlightenment of recognizing empathy, the Master teaches us how to display it. The best way to learn empathy, taught the Lord, is by never forgetting that “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). It is curious that this magnificent lesson was taught by Him toward the conclusion of what has been known to men as His “Sermon on the Mount.” A sermon where the King, in an eloquent simplicity, details the model citizen of His kingdom. Verily, the most eloquent of eloquence is simplicity, and the Master was an expert at doing this. Our Redeemer understood the greedy and selfish nature of man. Hence, He determined the best method of helping man see past himself was to find himself in others. After all, this is the essential definition of empathy. As has always been the case, this “golden rule” (as it has been dubbed) was not only spoken about by Him, but rather it was extraordinarily exhibited in His manner of living. Through Mark, we have been able to witness Jesus’ mission of serving mankind as our Messiah. His marvelous Gospel of action continuously displays Christ’s greatness due to His voluntary submission to the will of the Father and His brethren. Although King (as portrayed by Matthew) He did not consider it a crime to humble Himself by becoming a bondservant (Philippians 2:5-7). It is true that it has been thoroughly established that He became a bondservant by giving His life for many on the cross. Yet, it is unwise to turn a blind eye in how He achieved this incredible task. Enter, the Gospel account of Luke. Matthew shows us the royal visage of Jesus the Christ and Mark describes God’s suffering servant, but it is Luke who emphasizes that both were achieved by Jesus, the Man. More specifically, the Son of Man. Similar to the books penned by Matthew and Mark, Luke implemented another Messianic term to prove that Jesus of Nazareth truly was the Messiah. This Messianic term, Son of Man, resonates the prophecy spoken by Daniel as he “was watching in the night visions, and behold, One, like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13)! Daniel reveals that the One, like the Son of Man is God’s Chosen One since to Him an everlasting kingdom and dominion is given (Daniel 7:14). Like Daniel’s prophecy, Luke gives importance to the fact that the Messiah would receive this kingdom and dominion as a Man. Let us also remember that this title was Jesus’ favorite way of referring to Himself. Each one of the Cosmic Scribes records the Lord often speaking of Himself as the Son of Man in an effort to prove to His followers that He was the Messiah. Combined, the four accounts of the Gospel total 84 of the 88 times this title is used in the New Testament. Jesus is responsible for utilizing this term concerning His mission 83 times. Of the four Gospel accounts, John is the only one to record an instance where the phrase Son of Man was not spoken by the lips of the Lord (John 12:34). Therefore, learning that our Lord frequently used this term when teaching about achieving His Father’s will as the Chosen One illuminates just how valuable it is to comprehend that He did so as a man. Luke was fully aware of this necessity and the reason for its importance. In this day and age, this important lesson is still required and its reality is as elusive as ever. This is so because man still cannot (rather, will not) understand that Jesus endured His hardships, especially that of crucifixion, without His Divine power. The favorite excuse the incredulous man shields his incredulity with is that Jesus was able to resist the agony of the cross because He is the Son of God. This they foolishly claim believing that Jesus was using His omnipotence to withstand the horrific pain since a “normal” man could not endure such agony. This demonic doctrine solely seeks to devalue the sacrifice God gave for mankind; it is the poisonous seed that sprouts the dangerous idea that God is apathetic and therefore cannot relate to man. For this reason, Luke took it upon himself “to write to you an orderly account…that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed” (Luke 1:3-4). His brief prelude enlightens the intention of his Holy Writ as to confirm that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed a man. In actuality, Luke boldly claims that Jesus was the Son of Man and the Son of God, simultaneously. Because this is so, Luke begins his journey to prove that it is impossible for God to be apathetic toward man, because Jesus lived and died as one. To be continued…

Comments are closed