Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 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 set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
Kurt Holm, Pastor
The Creek Covenant Church (Walnut Creek)
Followers of Jesus are to be compassionate people. I agree. Sometimes I mistake feeling compassion with doing compassion – there’s a big difference. Feeling sorry for someone doesn’t get me off the hook.
In the familiar story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 we have a model of true compassion…and human response. Jesus and the disciples have been surrounded by people for several days. Jesus responded with compassion because he saw the spiritual need of the people as “sheep without a shepherd.” But the disciples responded to the crowd’s needs by urging Jesus to send them away. Remember, the disciples were tired, it was late and they were hungry, too.
Jesus challenges his disciples, “You give them something to eat.” The disciples grudgingly scrounged up some food. But they thought the little amount wouldn’t make a difference. It was a rather hopeless situation with such limited resources. But Jesus wanted to make it obvious just how far the disciples needed to go in learning faith. He is saying, “You have enough when I’m present.” Jesus stretched the limited human resources to meet the needs only God could meet. It was a powerful lesson of what God can and will do through us. Faith won out over human resources.
So now I’m learning to listen to people’s stories of brokenness, and I’m being moved beyond my lazy convenience to true compassion. I’m learning also to take risks beyond my limited human resources, desperately relying on God to show up, and seeing my faith grow.
Jesus, lead me beyond my need for convenience to respond with compassion toward someone today, even if I feel I have so little to offer. You have something to offer through me.