A Remarkable Verb

Dave Farcas
In the New Testament there is a remarkable verb that is used only used in reference to Jesus Himself and three closely related figures in the parables splagchnizomai (splagcnizomai).(Mk. 1:41, Mt. 20:34, Lk.7:13, Mk.8:2) It is usually translated "to have compassion or pity", but these are only approximate translations. Splagchnizomai literally means a movement in the bowels (in the sense of the innermost parts). Karl Barth comments, "The term obviously defies adequate translation. What it means is that the suffering and sin and abandonment and peril of these men not merely went to the heart of Jesus but right into His heart, into Himself, so that their whole plight was now His own, and as such He saw and suffered it far more keenly than they did. esplagcnisyh means that He took their misery upon Himself, taking it away from them and making it His own."

Jesus did not just sympathetically identify with the pain of others, He actually, empathetically, experienced their pain and sickness as His own. Their pain became His pain. Jesus did not heal them with an act of almighty power. He healed them by taking their sickness from them and into Himself. This was an expression of kenosis (self-emptying) of God through Jesus Christ. This is the other side of kenosis: God through Jesus Christ immerses Himself into the filth, pain, and death of His beloved creation. "Him who knew not sin he has made sin for us, that we might become God's righteousness in him."(2 Cor. 5:21) He does not reject anything experienced by His creation-even that which is not "holy". The kenosis of God through Jesus Christ is God taking all of the filth, pain and and death of His beloved creation and in return, pouring out, giving--"And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power (strength) went out from him and healed all.(Luke 6:19)"-- His life to the creation to heal and transform it into the eschatological, eternal, home of God. "Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb (Rev. 22:1)." For all eternity God will give His life to the creation to sustain it and open up the unlimited potential of those created in His image. This is what God is-- what love is-- giving Godself to the other, forever and ever. All the indescribable horror and suffering experienced by countless billions of God's beloved creatures is taken into Godself and transformed into eoinan life (the very life of God).


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