Picture a tired and grieving Jesus with His disciples, looking for seclusion, and finally finding it. He had just heard about John the Baptist’s death, and needed a moment alone. He and His disciples boarded a boat on Lake Galilee, pushed off the shore, and at last they would find seclusion.
When they reached the other side of the lake, crowds had anticipated their arrival. Was He disappointed? He had compassion on them. He began to heal their sick.
When evening came, which was 3pm for Jewish people, His disciples said to Him (Paraphrase) “this is our secluded spot we were looking for. We found it first. Send them away so they can buy themselves some food.”
Don’t you love it when people try to get you to do something by suggesting you do something else? The disciples didn’t care about them being fed as much as they cared about themselves resting.
Jesus wanted them to have the same compassion on the crowds, and He replied,
14:16, “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.
Jesus directed the people to sit down. Luke tells us He divided them into groups of 50.
Jesus took the food, looked up, gave thanks, and broke the loaves of bread.
One of the most common Jewish blessings for food was, “Blessed art Thou, o Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.”
Jesus possibly said that common blessing, thanking God publicly. Then Jesus gave the food to the disciples, until they were passing out food. They would return several times each and Jesus never ran out of food. He made the five loaves and two fish last for 5,000 men, and above that many women and children.
Notice: How many people did Jesus hand the food to in the crowd? None. Jesus handed the food to His disciples, and they handed food to the people.
Jesus wants to work through you to show HIS compassion through your life.
They didn’t just have enough; they had 12 baskets full. One basket for each disciple.
When you commit yourself to serve God by having compassion on people, God will take care of your needs in His way and in His time.
Jesus then sent the disciples in a boat away from that part of the lake, and then He sent the crowds away. He finally had time to rest.
If you’re available to God and watching for peoples’ needs, God will provide times of rest for you. If you avoid peoples’ needs and force times of rest, you will miss the miraculous work that God wants to do through you.
If you’re thinking right now, listening to this, “I don’t have any spare time now. How will I have any free time if I let people interrupt my schedule?”
If you do it to minister to them, God will take care of you and give you a season of rest in His way and in His time.
Jesus isn’t finished showing compassion. He doesn’t just require you to show compassion as His disciple.
He was by Himself, up on a mountainside praying. 14:23 tells us “when evening came,” possibly meaning the 4th watch of the night (3am-6am). Jesus was alone still in a time or resting and or prayer.
The boat was far from shore, and being “buffeted” by the waves; the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch Jesus came to them, walking on water, having compassion for His disciples caught in a storm.
Peter goes out after Jesus calls him, and Peter takes his focus off Jesus and puts it on the problems.
He cries out “Lord, save me!”
Jesus saved him, then Jesus rebuked him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
It is awesome to arrive in the safety of Jesus’ hand, but it is terribly uncomfortable to leave the place of security like the boat. It is also terribly difficult sometimes to walk that space between the place of safety and where Jesus commands us to go. Yet, if Peter had stayed focused on Jesus, the story would have ended without Jesus rebuking him. Would you have succeeded?
Not even the greatest of the OT prophets walked on water. Not even deities of other cultures walked on or controlled water. They had religious texts where their gods saved sailors, but none of the other nations’ gods dealt with the sea. The sea in ancient near eastern culture was a symbol for chaos and evil.
The only God immune to its appetite of swallowing people, and the only God able to calm it, is Jesus Christ God Almighty!
Matt 14:33, “Those who were in the boat worshipped Him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”
Something else to notice here, that Jesus not only tells you to show others compassion, but He is standing there showing you compassion when you fail.
Knowing Jesus means showing compassion to people. God wants you to do that. He wants YOU to get involved.
What did Jesus say? Matthew 28 records that He told us to make disciples by going into all the world, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey all He has commanded. As we do that He is with us always.
Right now as I write, and later as you read, people are dying and going to hell.
Jesus talked about hell, and how our showing them compassion fits into their eternal destiny. He said in Matthew 16, “I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not stand against it.”
In some Jewish writings, Sheol (Gehenna, Hell) is portrayed as a place with many, many gates and layers of gates as you go further in, to keep the damned inside.
Jesus is saying that though their destiny is to be trapped in the painful consequences of their sin forever, My church will liberate them from hell.
That is awesome! He wants you to be a liberator. It starts with having compassion on people.