Matthew 14:13-21 tells of one of Jesus’ many busy days. Jesus’ cousin and good friend, John the Baptist, had been beheaded.
When Jesus got the news, He took some time away from the crowds that had begun to follow Him.
“When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.”
I don’t think it was grief that caused Him to withdraw. It may be Jesus took the time to commune with His Father God and The Holy Spirit in Thanksgiving for the successful completion of the earthly mission of their servant, John.
It may have been a time of welcoming John home! We don’t know what happened on Jesus’ boat. However, when He reached the other side, the crowd was waiting for Him.
He could have told them to go away, but He didn’t.
“He had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
What do we do when others press on us? Do we retreat into our own needs and push them away? Do we go to our communion with God and make a mental note to include them in our prayers?
Or do we look upon them with compassion and respond personally to their need? Jesus knew John’s earthly Mission was complete, but His was not.
We may have challenges that cause us to want to turn inwardly, but our mission here is not complete. We have work to do!
After a long time of Jesus ministering to the people, His Disciples were also moved with compassion. But their way of dispensing compassion was much different than that of their Teacher.
“As evening approached, the disciples came to Him and said, ‘This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.'”
How willing are we to give a tax deductible donation to an organization that feeds the hungry, but we are reluctant to personally feed a “beggar” on the street?
How willing are we to pray for someone, but stay a nice safe distance from their very personal and traumatic problems?
How easy is it to pass an accident on the road and say, “Thank God that wasn’t us” instead of taking a few moments to pray for those who are involved, both those responding and those being responded to?
Jesus’ Disciples had “arms’ length” compassion. Jesus had “touching, up close and personal” compassion.
“Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.'”
How many times in our lives have we missed Jesus saying to us, “You help them. Enter their space with My Compassion. I am calling you to be My Hands and Feet.”
Our first thought might be, “Their need is too great. I can’t do that!” Jesus’ Disciples had the same reaction.
“‘We have here only two loaves and five fish,’ they answered.”
If this was supposed to be a reality check for Jesus, it boomeranged for His Disciples.
Jesus said, “Bring them here to Me.”
When you feel too tired, too grieved, too scared, too small to even help yourself, much less anyone else, Jesus says, “Bring what you’ve got to Me.”
And you may remember the rest of that story. Jesus took what they had, thanked God for it and then gave it back to them. But first He broke the loaves.
If you give what you have to Jesus, He may break it. It’s in the brokenness you discover you have far more than you ever realized! And He will give it all back to you, not to hoard or try to put back together, but to share with the world.
“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve baskets of pieces that were left over.”
“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them …”
“But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire Mercy, not sacrifice.'”