I Have Compassion

January 30, 2011

We often wonder if Jesus indeed cares about our well-being and, if he does, how much detail he knows concerning us. It should surprise us to know that he knows so much that he can even anticipate what might happen to us. He will not leave us to ourselves when he sees that we are in need. He will do what he did to those who followed him during his time here on earth. On one occasion, a crowd of four thousand men were following him and he said to his disciples, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance” (Mark 8:2-3). Jesus is not only concerned about our spiritual needs, but also our physical needs. He knows that we are weak and his compassion will drive him to do something to meet our need.

Certainly, Jesus is not bound by physical limitations when he ministers to us out of his compassion. Even in the most difficult situation, he concretizes his promises. In the case of the crowd that were following him, he met their needs by feeding them in spite of his disciples’ initial objections, for they said, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread for them?” (Mark 8:4) In the limited mind of his disciples, they could not understand how in the world they could feed four thousand men, excluding women and children, when they were in a remote area where there was no market to buy the food. Nevertheless, Jesus asked, “How many loaves do you have?” With the seven loaves that the disciples brought to him, he multiplied them and fed all until they were satisfied. In the end, there were seven basketfuls of broken pieces left over. By this, we could see that Jesus will do everything within his power to manifest his love and compassion.

Earlier, Jesus also fed five thousand people. The disciples suggested to Jesus that he dismiss the crowd so that the people could buy their own food in the surrounding countryside and villages. However, Jesus said to them, “You give them something to eat.” But the disciples protested, saying, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” Undeterred, Jesus said, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” When they found five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus broke the bread and divided the fish and he fed the five thousand men gathered around him. It should be noted that in both instances, Jesus requested for something from the people that he could multiply. He could have just commanded heaven to rain the people with manna, in the same way that God fed the Israelites with manna in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. However, Jesus wanted them to have faith and to learn the principle of multiplication.

Even after his death and resurrection, Jesus showed his compassion to his disciples. Dejected because they lost their Master and Lord, some of the disciples went fishing with Peter. They laboured all night but caught none. They were on their way back when Jesus asked if they had any catch. When they responded negatively, Jesus, whom they did not recognize, said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some” (John 21:6). They did and they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Meantime, Jesus had already prepared a breakfast for them (fish and bread). He said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught. Come and have breakfast” (v. 10, 12). Note that Jesus did not need the fish from the disciples to prepare their breakfast. Jesus had his own supply. Nevertheless, he commanded his disciples to bring some of their catch.

Friends, there are times when we are in a quandary on how Jesus could meet our needs. Yes, he is compassionate, but based on these illustrations, we need to bring something before him that he may bless and multiply. We might say that we have barely enough to survive and we have nothing left to offer to him. Well, let us have the faith of the widow that fed Elijah. She had barely enough for one meal for herself and her son, but when she obeyed Elijah and shared her food with him, she had food everyday not only for herself and her family, but for Elijah, as well. The jar of flour she had was not used up and her jug of oil did not run dry (1 King 17:7-16). The Lord will fully manifest his compassion and meet our needs when we respond to his command. Let’s bring to him what we want him to multiply and out of his compassion and grace he will do it. If we don’t know how much to bring, he said, “Go, check it out.” Praise the Lord!