Strength & Compassion
Lord, you are the shepherd who provides for his flock. Help us to follow your example, to care for one another, and to show compassion for those in need. Amen.
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.
34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. 35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages ! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”
39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 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 his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.
44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.
46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. 47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there.
54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
Jesus and his Disciples have been traveling and witnessing, preaching and healing the sick. They are tired and want to rest, but the crowds keep following them. Jesus takes the apostles on a boat to what they expect will be a quiet place to relax and catch their breath, but the crowd just keeps coming.
Jesus sees the need of his followers, and provides. He gives rest to his apostles, preached to the community that follows him, and then when it’s time to eat, works the miracle of the loaves and fishes to feed those who have gathered around him.
If you could have asked any of the people following Jesus, “What do you want?”, their answers might have varied. One person might say they wanted to live a more comfortable life. Another person might have asked for new clothes, or a new pair of shoes. But Jesus didn’t ask what they wanted; rather, he responded to what they needed to be fulfilled on a deeper level. His compassion moved him to provide, even when tired and wishing for a place to just get away from it all.
Living a life in Jesus’ footsteps requires us to ask, what does the world need that we can provide? What is our responsibility to the world’s needs? How can we show compassion to our family and friends? Our neighbors? The strangers that we meet in our community or online? Where might we have failed in meeting a stranger with compassion, and how can we do better following Jesus’ example?
Lord, help us to see those in need in our family, neighborhood, and the world. Give us the strength to provide for those in need, and help us to share Your compassion with those who long for Your love. Amen.