TO CHEW ON: "But Jesus said to them, 'They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.'" Matthew 14:16.
In today's reading we see a soft side of Jesus. Our story begins just after Jesus has heard that Herod killed John the Baptist. So he "...departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself."
Why did He go away? My Bible's footnotes say it was, "....to avoid a premature conflict with Herod. His death would be according to God's will, not Herod's" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1316.
I think He had another reason too. I think He was grieving. John was His relative. They were colleagues, fellow preachers. John had baptized Him. John's death was also a foreshadowing of His own future. So He needed a little distance, a break, some privacy from public scrutiny to work through His emotions and doubtless to pray.
His 'holiday' was short-lived. The crowds followed Him to that deserted place. But instead of being irritated by them — as I'm sure I would have been — He was "moved with compassion" and spent the whole day hanging out with them and healing them.
It grew late. Still no one was making a move to go. "Send the multitudes away," the disciples said.
But Jesus said, "They do not need to go away." And then He took the little they had and fed them, abundantly. The five loaves and two fish turned into "they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained."
And so we see Jesus cared for the whole person. There was not a need for which He was not adequate — more than adequate. What a sight for the disciples, seeing that small lunch being transformed into a community picnic. What an experience, being His hands and feet in distributing the meal. What an indelible memory of God's compassionate heart.
I ask myself:
- Do I come to Jesus with my most practical needs?
- Do I call on Him for others — or do I send them away to get their needs met somewhere else?
- Am I available for Him to use in distributing His abundance?
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, please grow in me Your compassionate heart. I want to see people not as interrupters and irritants to my plans but as those You love deeply. Please use me to show that love as I make myself available to You.
MORE: Broken bread in God's hands
"I wonder what kind of finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you, and you have been like a marble and escaped? You are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you, the wine would have been remarkably bitter. To be a sacramental personality means that the elements of the natural life are presenced by God as they are broken providentially in His service. We have to be adjusted into God before we can be broken bread in His hands. Keep right with God and let Him do what He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children"- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, September 30th reading (emphasis added).