Jesus’ 7 Acts of Compassion in His Final Hours

by Gina Gardner, Steppes of Faith

Jesus' suffering on the cross for us proves His great love and compassion for us.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him. And by His stripes, we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

It’s Easter weekend, which is, in my opinion, the most important holiday in the Christian faith. Even more than Christmas. This is when we remember the day Jesus was crucified to save us from our sins. We remember how He was betrayed, arrested, ushered through bogus trials, flogged and beaten with glass and rocks, and then made to carry the crossbeam they would nail Him to up a long hill called Calvary. And all this without having had any sleep for over 24 hours. He was exhausted and in horrible pain.

Yet, in the middle of it all, there were seven amazingly compassionate things Jesus said as He carried the cross up the hill and endured the torture of crucifixion. It always humbles and amazes me when I think about it. His compassion and thoughtfulness of others continued to supersede anything He was going through personally. It’s hard to for our human minds to understand.

Let’s take a closer look at Jesus’ final words.

Compassion on the Road to Calvary

If you know Jesus, then you are intimately aware of His great love for us. He was an incredibly compassionate man (more accurately, God-man). There was very little that He didn’t react to when it came to the suffering of His people. If you were sick, He would heal you. If you were blind, He would give you sight. If you were sad, He’d give you His big shoulder to cry on. His love was beyond comprehension.

After the people of Jerusalem condemned Jesus, He was forced to carry his own cross, which was a common part of the punishment in those days. The streets were full of onlookers, gawkers, and critics. It seemed the entire city had turned out to watch the death of the man who claimed to be the Messiah (which He was).

Some of the people were bystanders, but others were professional mourners. These were women who were hired to cry and pretend they were upset for the accused as they walked with him up the hill.

It’s not known for sure who a certain group of women in the procession were, whether they were bystanders or professional mourners. What we do know is that, though beaten, bloodied, and exhausted, and carrying a cross that weighed likely a good one hundred pounds as the crowd heckled and threw insults, Jesus noticed these crying women and took the time to warn them about the future.

The account is recorded only in Luke 23:28, which says,

“But Jesus, turning to them (the women), said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed.’” (Addition is mine)

Jesus is trying to warn the women that things are going to get worse for the entire Jewish nation at the hands of the Romans. If the Romans were willing to send an innocent man to be crucified, how much more will they do to the entire nation? And He tells the women they will be considered blessed for not having any children to mourn when these things happen. His words may even be prophetic of the earth’s last days.

It always seemed incredible to me that Jesus would have the fortitude and wherewithal to make a point to warn these women about the future in the middle of His tortuous trek to Calvary. Perhaps He was trying to get the word out before He died, I’m not sure. What’s important, though, is that He was focused on others, showing His compassion and care for them instead of Himself.

Compassion for the Crowd

Jesus’ compassion continued three more times even after He was nailed to the cross. First, Luke 23:34 tells us He began by asking the Father to forgive the executioners and all the Romans and Jews who were tormenting Him. Even though none of them deserved forgiveness, Jesus understood their spiritual blindness and the guilt each of them had (“For if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory,” 1 Corinthians 2:8).

Jesus’ prayer for forgiveness is such a beautiful expression of His infinite compassion and grace. It may be that this prayer was what brought many in the city to believe and accept that He was indeed the Messiah after the gift of the Holy Spirit was given on the Day of Pentecost.

Compassion for the Robber

Not much later, Jesus shows compassion and grace again. One of the robbers hanging on the crosses next to Jesus decides to join the soldiers in mocking the Lord by saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” (Luke 23:39) It’s so disrespectful and blasphemous, don’t you think?

After this had gone on for a little while, the other robber finally tells the first robber to button his lip.

“But the other, answering, rebuked him saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing as you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds. But this Man has done nothing wrong.”

Then the second robber turns to Jesus and asks, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

Jesus slowly lifts His head and turns His bloodied face to the robber saying, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Again, Jesus is compassionate in the middle of His own suffering. Through the pain in His body and the beginning fight for breath, Jesus gives grace to someone who finally figured out that he had no hope left except for divine grace. Jesus graciously confirmed the robber’s new faith and gave him salvation.

Jesus willingly took the nails meant for you and me. His compassion is beyond human imagination.

Compassion for His Mother

Up to this point, Jesus had displayed compassion to the entire city and the robber hanging next to Him. Now, He needed to take care of His mother, Mary.

As the oldest child, Jesus was expected to be the breadwinner of the family and to ensure that His mother was properly taken care of. Normally, it would be the responsibility of His earthly brothers to look after their mother; however, they did not support Jesus’ choice of vocation, were not sympathetic to His ministry, and did not even believe He was the promised Messiah. They didn’t even show up on the day Jesus died. They stayed home in Capernaum. So, Jesus gave the distinct honor of looking after His mother to his dear friend, John.

John records Jesus’ request in his own book in chapter 19, verse 26. His mother and His mother’s sister (both named Mary, oddly enough), and His friend, Mary Magdalene, were all standing at the cross with John, doing the best they could to support Jesus in His worst hour.

“When Jesus, therefore, saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour, that disciple took her to his own home.”

Jesus’ mother had steadfastly supported Him and His reason for being in the world from the very moment Gabriel the angel visited her. He told her the Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would have a son whose name is Jesus. She never doubted Him and she never left Him.

We could say that Jesus was saying “thank you” to Mary for her obedience and dedication. But I think we could also say that Jesus loved her very much as any son loves his mother. John, who also showed his enduring love for his friend by staying at the cross, was then chosen to take over the family duty. It was a compliment to John and a very high honor indeed.

Jesus had the presence of mind and thoughtfulness to make sure his mother was placed in good hands. He kept His sense of responsibility, but He was also compassionate toward the one person who stayed with Him every day of His life, through thick and thin, while He was on the earth.

The love of a son for his mother is a special kind of love that has bonds that go beyond space and time. Jesus clearly shows it here.

Three More Notable Sayings from the Lord

Jesus speaks only three more times before His death.

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Jesus quotes directly from Psalm 22:1 here. It indicates the depth of despair and abandonment Jesus was experiencing as He took on the sins of the world and endured the divine wrath of the Father.

It was a feeling He had never known before. He and the Father had never been separated, and since Jesus is a part of the trinity of God, it must have felt like His soul was splitting in two. I can only imagine the agony and sadness He felt at that moment, and I pray I never do.

“I thirst!” It’s entirely plausible that Jesus was thirsty by this time. Instead of water, though, the Roman soldiers gave Him sour wine on a sponge to drink. The sour wine was purposely chosen to prolong His suffering, but that evil tactic did nothing because there were only a few minutes left of Jesus’ suffering.

“It is finished.” This is the last thing Jesus said once His job was done and it was time to go home. He bowed His head and let His spirit leave His body to return to heaven, which proves what He said in John 10:17-18 where He said no one could take His life from Him except Him. By saying these words, Jesus was conveying that He had fulfilled His religious obligation and the entire work of redemption was complete.

Jesus conquering death for us was an incredible act of compassion for all believers.

After His Death

On the third day after Jesus’ death and burial, His tomb was miraculously found empty. He had conquered death and sin just as He said He would. He died as a lamb put to slaughter, but He rose like a lion! We serve a risen Savior who holds all power and authority in His hands and an unimaginable amount of love and compassion in His heart.

His death makes us feel sad and troubled knowing He took on the punishment we deserved. But, don’t forget He did it willingly so that you and I could be saved from eternal death. And He rose again so that we would have a chance at eternal life with Him.

This Easter, as you celebrate the living God, may I suggest you read Isaiah 53 where the prophecy of Jesus’ sacrifice and the circumstances of His death are predicted with amazing accuracy. Let the words penetrate the busyness of your day and remind you of just how much Jesus loves you.

How Much Does Jesus Love You?

There’s a cute, children’s classic tale called “Guess How Much I Love You.” It’s a story of a father rabbit and his son trying to explain just how much each loves the other. The son says he loves his dad “to the moon and back.” When we think of Jesus, try to guess how much He loves you. The answer is to hell and back…and up to heaven forever.

Give thanks to the Father for His unspeakable gift.

 “I go to prepare a place for you. And, if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:14

From our house to yours, may you and your family enjoy a very blessed Easter.

Hallelujah, He is Risen!

Jesus is risen from the grave unto life for His glory!

Your Turn

How are you celebrating our risen Savior this Easter? Amid the busyness of church, egg hunts, dyeing eggs, and cooking, will you take the time to consider Jesus’ compassion? How can we put the Easter message more in the forefront of the day? Come join the conversation with us!

Further Reading

If you would like to take a closer look at the timeline of Good Friday, read a great compilation of the events of the day, written by Russ Ramsey and published on The Gospel Coalition.

Roy Lessin is an amazing author who conveys Scripture so beautifully. As the co-founder of DaySpring, he’s touched thousands of lives all over the world. Here is his devotion explaining Jesus’ death and the power of His blood. 

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