Compassion is not just pity or sympathy. It is more than being moved to tears or stirred up emotionally. Compassion means pity and mercy accompanied by a desire to help change things. True compassion moves us to do something!
At one point, Jesus departed into the wilderness to pray. When the multitudes discovered His whereabouts, they followed Him by foot and brought Him their lame, their blind, their dying, their demon-possessed ones. The Bible tells us: "And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick" (Matthew 14:14).
Had Jesus been hampered by our modern thinking, He might have gathered His disciples for a committee meeting to analyze the problems and talk about the sins that had brought society to such a place. He would have pointed to the frothing demoniacs and tearfully said, "Look at what sin does to people. Isn't that tragic?"
Or He could have said, like so many sanctimonious people, "Look, I feel your pain. I've worked hard ministering to you but now I'm exhausted, and I need to talk to my Father. Later I’ll call My disciples together for a prayer meeting and we'll pray over your needs. Now, go in peace."
That is modern theology in a nutshell. Everybody is willing to pray — but few are willing to act.
Matthew 9 says of Jesus, "When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (9:36). The phrase "moved with compassion" here means "stirred to action."
So, what did Jesus do? He didn't just talk. His heart was stirred at what He saw and He had a consuming desire to change things. The feelings of pity and sympathy He felt moved Him to action.
"Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people" (verse 35). This was not some vain theology. Jesus did not just get alone with the Father and say, "Lord, send laborers into Your harvest field." No, Jesus went Himself. He got deeply, practically, intimately involved.