The words are similar, yet distinct. When we express compassion, we are displaying sympathy, pity, and concern for the misfortune and suffering of another, but empathy is the ability to personally understand and relate to someone else’s feelings and situation, to vicariously experience the pain personally, stand in their shoes, so to speak. As I peruse the heartbreaking passage in Genesis, chapter 22, my eyes tear up in empathy for that dear old patriarch, Abraham, for I have suffered the trauma of losing a child; I have been there, I understand the pain and despair he had to be experiencing in the early verses of that amazing chapter.
Abraham had been blessed with a “son in his old age,” a promised heir, a son in whom “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,” a conduit for the future birth of the Messiah. That elderly father’s heart was filled with bliss as he raised that child of promise. But God had a test for Abraham, a test which, from a human perspective, seems incredibly cruel. “And it came to pass that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham, and he said, Behold, here I am.” Abraham was about to face the pinnacle of faith-stretching trials, for God would command his servant to sacrifice that treasured son as a burnt offering. Abraham, father of nations, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest…and offer him.” Take that promised child, whom you love beyond words, and give him back to me, each phrase piercing the old man’s heart deeper and deeper. A short word study brings this passage to life. The Hebrew word yahid is used here for only son and is defined as sole, beloved, irreplaceable, unique, solitary. But what is stunning is that when the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek, the word monogenes was used here, rendered only begotten, the same word used in reference to Christ, “the only begotten of the Father.”
Abraham’s son to Hagar, Ismael, was loved and honored, but Isaac was yahid, the unique, sole one, the miraculously conceived son of Abraham and Sarah. What a foreshadowing of Jesus, monogenes, the irreplaceable One whose conception would prove to be an even greater miracle than that of Isaac. Both Isaac and Jesus were promised sons, beloved of their fathers, both carried the wood to their sacrifice, but with one important difference: Isaac was saved by a lamb, “a ram caught in a thicket,” and Jesus WAS the Lamb, provided for us. The sacrifice of a yahid, the only begotten, for me!
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Oh, God, what a wonder of grace and love, that You would give Your beloved, only-begotten Son as the Lamb offered in my stead.<div class='sharedaddy sd-block sd-like jetpack-likes-widget-wrapper jetpack-likes-widget-unloaded' id='like-post-wrapper-164683012-2438-6571d1215dd6e' data-src='https://widgets.wp.com/likes/#blog_id=164683012&post_id=2438&origin=wp.blog.blog.grandmasgleanings.com&obj_id=164683012-2438-6571d1215dd6e' data-name='like-post-frame-164683012-2438-6571d1215dd6e' data-title='Like or Reblog'><h3 class="sd-title">Like this:</h3><div class='likes-widget-placeholder post-likes-widget-placeholder' style='height: 55px;'><span class='button'><span>Like</span></span> <span class="loading">Loading...</span></div><span class='sd-text-color'></span><a class='sd-link-color'></a></div>