The Miracle of Compassion

“I have compassion for these people.” —Mark 8:2 The disciples were tired.  At the end of a long day, they complained to Jesus, “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”(Matthew 14:15).

The throngs that followed Jesus were a mixed crowd living in a compromised and backslidden nation that suffered under the boot of Rome. Spiritually bankrupt, traitors to their heritage, many were prostitutes, tax collectors, thieves, and sinners of all kinds.

The disciples were done for the day and wanted them gone.

But Jesus “had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

“They do not need to go away,” He gently rebuked his disciples. “You give them something to eat.”

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they protested.

Perhaps you already know the miracle, that Jesus prayed, gave thanks, asked his disciples to distribute the meager food, and wondrously, all 5,000 men plus women and children were fed to satisfaction—with leftovers!

As the only miracle recounted in all four Gospels, there is an important lesson here.  The miracle was awesome and must have stunned the people.  But what preceded the miracle?  What caused it to happen?

“I have compassion for these people; they have already been with Me three days and have nothing to eat,” Jesus said (Mark 8, Matthew 15).

He did not look down on their sinfulness.  He didn’t shoo them away from His holy presence. He loved them, healed them, wanted to forgive them, and was filled with compassion.

We are called to compassion.  We might try to send problems away, like the disciples did. Not my problem.

But God asks us to look at others with compassion, and to give what we can, even a small portion.  A little money, a minor gift or talent, a space of time—whatever we can.

Jesus did two things. He blessed the bread then broke it. Because of His compassion, there was enough for everyone.

The miracle began in Jesus’ hands, then was distributed to the people by the hands of His disciples.

Feeding the people was not a miracle for the sake of a miracle, but because Jesus had compassion. Compassion leads to miracles!

“The Lord your God will…have compassion on you.” —Deuteronomy 30:3

 

 

DEVOTIONALSRay Bentley