Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Oftentimes when we read the biblical account found in Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, and John 6 known as the “Feeding of the 5,000”[1], we far too often focus on the miracle of Jesus feeding the multitude.  There is no doubt that what Jesus did with the five loaves of bread and two small fish was a true and amazing feat, but we oftentimes overlook the point that none of this would have happened if it were not for the attitude and subsequent actions of Jesus as He stepped out of the boat on that day to be greeted by the multitudes.

In this story, which is recorded in all four gospels, we see the true heart of Jesus.  Even though He was looking for a place that was remote for Him to get away for solitude and rest, Mark records that as Jesus stepped out of the boat onto the shore and saw a huge crowd He remained there with them instead of setting back out into the water to look for another place of solitude.  WHY?   In two of the four accounts we read the statement that gets to the heart of Jesus.  It is that: HE HAD COMPASSION ON THEM!  In the other two accounts they record that Jesus welcomed (ἀποδέχομαι—a willingness to receive) the crowds (Luke 9:10) and the other records that Jesus with a question began to prepare His disciples for the large crowd when He saw them coming (John 6:5-6).  Instead of running away, Jesus welcomed the opportunity to minister to the people as He prepared to meet their needs with compassion.

There was for Jesus, in this moment, a deep stirring of emotion for the large crowd of people.  Even in the midst of Jesus’ grief for His cousin (John the Baptist) and a need for solitude and rest, He was moved by these who had followed after Him. And as Jesus and the large crowd met one another, He was moved deep within to meet them at their point of need as Mark writes with “COMPASSION”.  Look again at Mark 6:34:So as He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd”.

For the people who made up the crowd that day they had needs and they came to Jesus with those needs.  When you look at the life of Jesus you see that He lived a life of genuine kindness, benevolent graciousness, and the steadfast care of a true shepherd.  He exemplified God’s standard of compassion for others in both word and deed as Jesus not only preached compassion; He practiced compassion.
  The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible says this of compassion, “In scriptural usage compassion is always both a feeling and the appropriate action based on that feeling.”[2]
When we look at this definition and the moment at hand there on the hillside with Jesus, His disciples, and the thousands who were with them, we see three things that were evident in the life of Christ that were not contained to this moment in time as these things were not only evident there, but throughout His ministry.  These qualities are ones that we should desire for our lives as well as followers of Christ:

When you look at the life and ministry of Jesus, you see a heart that was filled with compassion to meet the people where they were in life and to meet needs of those around Him, both physical and spiritual.

For the follower of Christ, we are called to have the compassion of Christ and to serve others because of the compassion that has been shown to us by God through His one and only Son Jesus.
In this world there are millions, tens of millions who live without any show of compassion upon their lives.  May we who claim Christ live as Christ and exhibit compassion to those around us and meet them in their place of need for the glory of the Father.

Jesus’ ministry was not one that was swayed by public opinion nor state sanctioned persuasion.  Jesus walked by faith and lived by that same faith to fulfill the work before Him and to do the will of the Father, who sent Him.

How incredible it is that Jesus was never swayed from His call and mission.  He had many opportunities to shirk His responsibility and even justification to drop the cause like a hot potato, but that was not who Jesus was.  He was faithful to the Father to the end; all the way to the cross.  And He is still remaining faithful [to the Church] as He intercedes on behalf of everyone who follows Him in faith.

In a world that seems to be spinning out of control and what once used to be wrong, but is now seen as right in the eyes of society, may we as the Church live by our convictions that are to be taken from the word of God even when we feel tired, pressured, overwhelmed, and at times depressed. 

Instead of living for Himself and treating everyone around Him like a lackey, Jesus dug His heels in, dirtied His hands, and fervently worked as a servant of the LORD for those He met throughout His ministry, just like He did for the 5,000 on the hillside that day. 
Jesus never lived in a way that showed “He had arrived”, but rather He continued to work tirelessly all the way to the cross, even until last breath, so that the needs of those around Him might be met; the greatest of those needs being forgiveness and salvation.

May we never think that we’ve done enough or feel justified to sit on our laurels as a follower of Christ.  Because the truth is, there is always work to be done, needs to be met, and the compassion of Christ to be exhibited.
                                            Show Compassion…


[1] Most bible scholars estimate that the number of people was more like 15-20,000 since only the men would have been counted, which would leave out the additional number of women and children.

[2] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 504.

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