Jesus was moved by compassion. It was a driving force in His life!
One day He received news that John the Baptist had been beheaded by King Herod. Upon hearing the news, Jesus decided to get into a boat with His disciples and go away from the multitudes for a while. He wanted to go to a deserted place to be alone by Himself and take some time to rest, so He sailed toward the other side of the Sea of Galilee.
In the meantime, the people heard that Jesus had set sail for the other side, and they followed Him on foot around the perimeter of the lake, carrying the sick and infirm with them. The Apostle Matthew recorded what happened when Jesus got out of the boat:
“And when Jesus got out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14 NKJV)
Most other people would have jumped right back into the boat and sailed away as fast as they could. However, Jesus was driven by compassion. When He saw the needs of the people, their needs became more important than His own. He spent hours ministering to the sick and healing them of their infirmities.
“When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.” (Matthew 14:15 NKJV)
Jesus surprised them with His response:
“But Jesus said to them, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.’ ” (Matthew 14:16 NKJV)
The disciples felt great sympathy for the multitudes, but all they wanted to do was send them away. Jesus on the other hand, was moved by compassion. He wanted to meet the needs of the people, so He told His disciples to feed them. However, what Jesus demanded seemed impossible to them!
“And they said to Him, ‘We have here only five loaves and two fish.’ ” (Matthew 14:17 NKJV)
Jesus instructed the multitudes to sit down on the green grass of the shoreline. Taking the loaves and fish, He lifted His eyes to Heaven and blessed them. Then He broke them and started handing the pieces out to the disciples who distributed them to the people. One Bible teacher suggested that as each person took a piece and shared it with the person next to them, the loaves and fish were multiplied. As a result, the whole multitude of over 5,000 people was fed, and they gathered up twelves baskets full of the remains. It was a mighty miracle!
What is the difference between the compassion Jesus felt toward the needs of the people and the sympathy that the disciples felt for them? Sympathy only feels sorry for the person in need, but does nothing else. On the other hand, compassion does everything it can to alleviate the suffering of a person and lift them out of their need.
When Jesus saw the multitudes bringing the sick and suffering, He immediately moved to heal them and set them free from their infirmities. In the same way, when it became late in the day and the people had nothing to eat, Jesus looked to Heaven to meet their needs. The result was one of the greatest miracles recorded in the ministry of Jesus!
As God’s saints, we want to be just like Jesus. In order to follow in His steps, we must learn to allow the compassion of Jesus to flow out of our hearts toward those around us. We need to open our eyes to the needs of others. Then we need to look to Heaven to find a way to lift people out of their needs. God does not want us to do that in our own strength, but look to Him for the answer.
Although we cannot meet the needs of everyone we meet, we can help the person that God leads us to. Sometimes we are able to give a helping hand. Other times we minister to the sick and see them healed. Then there are occasions that God gives us the resources to bless someone. We must learn how to give liberally to others, by receiving from God’s hand and placing it in theirs. In each way we are ministers of His compassion to those around us.
You are holy, dear saint!
This week’s prayer: “Jesus, fill me with Your compassion, and show me how I can meet the needs of someone today.”
[All Scripture references have been taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.]