By Allen White
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
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.”
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 14:13-21
Often we race past the first two paragraphs of this account and head straight into the miracle. There is something very human and very divine about Jesus in this situation.
First, He retreated to a solitary place. Jesus was grieving the death of His friend and co-worker John the Baptist. The Son of God and Savior of the world needed some space to deal with His feelings over John’s cruel death. Even Jesus couldn’t just move on.
But, the crowd interrupted Jesus’ solitude. They weren’t met with an attitude. He had compassion on them. Jesus clearly was in a situation where by every right He could expect others to have compassion on Him. He lost a dear friend. But, Jesus looked past His own grief to show compassion to others.
Jesus doesn’t treat people harshly. The Creator of the Universe gives us priority over His own needs. When we are troubled, Jesus has compassion on people. He doesn’t lecture or scold. Jesus loves us.
Then, we get to the miracle. Five thousand men plus woman and children had gathered in the solitary place. With no port-a-potties or hot dog carts, they were left to fend for themselves. The problem was there just wasn’t anything to fend for.
Overwhelmed by the sheer logistics, the disciples offered to send the people away. They could barely split the food they collected 12 ways let alone 5,000 plus ways.
Grieving and compassionate Jesus asked for the meager portion of food. What was insufficient to meet the needs of 12 was multiplied into satisfaction for thousands of people that day, because Jesus blessed it. Fortunately for us, Jesus is not limited to human thinking.
A bereaved person wouldn’t be expected to provide the funeral dinner too. In fact, we could understand why someone who’s experienced a great loss might not be overly interested in the needs around him. But, Jesus is not like us.
Jesus was genuinely grieved over John’s death. Jesus was truly compassionate for the plight of broken people. Jesus was fully devoted to the practical needs of His followers.
When we grieve, Jesus shares in our sufferings. When we are in need, Jesus has compassion for our brokenness. When we have exhausted our energy, ideas and innovation to solve our problems, Jesus has answers beyond our Imagination.
How do you need to connect with Jesus today? What is overwhelming you? How can you surrender your problems and solutions to God today? How can you allow His compassion and power to take the front seat of your issue today?
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