Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand
29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. 32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people;they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”
33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?” 34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”
35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.
Practicing Full Compassion
It had a been a long day, in the middle of several long days, filled with crowds and needy people. People who were sick in body, mind, and spirit kept coming to see Jesus in huge numbers. No matter what Jesus did, there was still more people in need. Although the disciples basically were doing nothing more than crowd control and security, they were getting weary of the crowd and their needs. Indeed, life can get that way sometimes. The amount of people in need and the amount of help they need will seem impossible to manage. In addition, we often will struggle with people that we helped already yet still need more help from us.
In Matthew 15, Jesus sets this example: Christ-like compassion doesn’t function on limits and supply. Despite healing people from demons and sickness, Jesus still could see that they would not be whole as long as they remained hungry and fatigued.Thank God for full compassion! Thank God that the goal for Jesus is, was, and will always be human wholeness. That is why Jesus does not save us to perform piecemeal style compassion. Instead, having the compassion of Christ means having a heart and mind that desires wholeness and dignity for those around us because partial compassion still leaves people broken and bruised.
When we read the full story we see that the full compassion of Christ led to a crowd of people being made whole AND fed. Furthermore, there was extra food left over. I find the extra food extremely encouraging and I hope you do, too. As we enter the month of February, let us dare to exhibit extreme and abundant compassion and see what overflow Jesus can produce in our communities and in our lives.