Month of Sundays: Compassion

And Jesus went forth and saw much people, and his heart did melt upon them and he healed of them those that were sick. (Matthew 14:14, Tyndale)

Published in 1526, William Tyndale’s New Testament was the first New Testament to be translated directly into English from the original Greek. Originally from England, he was forced to flee to the Continent because his translation, not authorized by the new Church of England, was illegal. Ultimately he gave his life for his activity.

But his work was not in vain. His translation became the basis for every English translation for the next century, including the Church of England’s “Authorized” Version (better known as the “King James Version.”)

In many ways Tyndale’s translation, although eighty-five years older than the KJV, is more readable. The passage above is a good example of that: when Jesus saw the people and their difficult condition, his heart melted, and he healed their diseases.

That should give us an idea of how God feels about our condition: his heart still melts for the miserable state we are in. But we’re told that we’re now God’s servants. Does our heart melt when we lift our eyes and look around at the condition of those around us? Are we moved to act on God’s behalf to meet their need? Or do we, like those who passed by the man the Samaritan picked up, look the other way?

It’s true that every day we’re put on many “guilt trips” about doing good things for others. And it’s true that our desire to help others can be manipulated to a wrong purpose. But the fact remains that Jesus’ heart melted at the condition of those around him. If we claim to be his followers, ours should too.

When he was executed in 1536, Tyndale’s last words were, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.” That opening took place, for his translation at least. May God open our eyes too to the needs—spiritual and physical—of those around us, and make us swift to act!

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