During his ministry in Jerusalem, a certain man named Lazarus was sick. Lazarus was Martha and Mary’s brother. Mary is the one who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair. (Matt. 26:7) Mary is also the one who did not serve the guests in their house when Jesus was present but instead sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his words. Upon Martha’s complaint (she was left alone with much of the serving) Jesus stated that Mary had chosen the good part. (Luke 10:42) Jesus was close to this family. The scriptures state that Jesus loved Martha and her sister [Mary] and Lazarus. After going to Lazarus, Jesus found that he had lain in the grave 4 days. Martha and Mary both in heartbroken anguish complained to Jesus, both saying, “If thou had been here, my brother had not died.”
“33 When Jesus therefore saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
35 Jesus wept.” (John 11:1-44)
After Jesus appeared and taught the Nephites and Lamanites after his resurrection he announced he was leaving and commanded the people to go home and ponder his words to prepare themselves for tomorrow when he would return. As he looked at the multitude, he saw they were in tears and would ask him to stay longer with them. He said,
“6 …my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.”
He then healed their sick and his joy was full.
“ 21 And… he wept, [and blessed the children]
22 And when he had done this he wept again…” (3 Nephi 17:12-22)
On one occasion, Jesus went to the coasts of Judaea by Jordan and taught the people. There came a man running and kneeled to him and asked him, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Christ rehearsed the 10 commandments upon which the man said that he had observed all these from his youth. Then Jesus told him to sell all that he has and give it to the poor and thou shalt have treasure on earth. It is interesting the account states,
“21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him…” (Mark 10:21)
Early in his ministry a leper came to Jesus beseeching him, and kneeling down to him saying:
“40 … If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.” (Mark 1:41)
Later Jesus went into a city called Nain with his disciples. At the city gate they met a procession. A man had died who was the only son of his widow mother. Jesus raised the dead son and delivered him to his mother. The scripture says:
We get glimpses here into who Jesus was. He had compassion for people. He wept when others were sad. He wept when others were happy. He loved people he had never met before but who came asking questions.
And, one of the most often reiterated commandments in the standard works is to love others. Therefore, if there ever were an attribute of Jesus that we ought to try to obtain, it is love for others. Jesus himself stated:
“34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)
I think of compassion as an expression of love or charity toward others. It is the proof of heartfelt love because it really moves us. Compassion is a feeling of sympathy and empathy for someone because you understand and care about them. It is often associated with pity or sorrow for the pain of somebody else but in the passage with the Nephites, we clearly see that compassion also includes feeling the joy or happiness of somebody else.
Sympathy is the ability to understand and feel sorrow or joy felt by somebody else, but with empathy we transfer somebody’s own feelings vicariously to ourselves to experiencing them ourselves. The Savior provides a perfect example for feeling sympathy and empathy.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus emphasized the need for compassion. The story states:
“33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,” (Luke 10:33)
And, in the parable of the Prodigal Son:
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
We will all do well to cultivate and exercise our ability to have compassion. With compassion toward others we will experience the why of missionary work and it will be the driving force for better success because people will feel it in us.President Robinson