A Compassionate Savior
Each of the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, tells the story of the largest catered dinner in the history of the world. The Disciples returned from their mission of preaching, healing and casting out demons (Mark 6:7-13) to report on what they had done (Mark 6:30-31). Jesus intended to give his disciples some much needed rest by taking them on a boat to a deserted place.
But, there was to be no rest. As the boat made its short, shore hugging journey from Capernaum to a deserted place in the region of Bethsaida the crowds, like sheep without a shepherd, followed on foot along the northern shore of the lake and across the Jordan River by the ford at its mouth which is used by foot travelers to this day.
The gospels say there were 5000 men. In those days women and children didn’t count. So, if we include women and children, there could have been roughly 15,000 people, – all baa-ing and clamoring for attention and trampling on each other, as sheep do. Jesus had compassion on them and started a day of teaching and healing. Sorry, disciples, no rest today. In God’s scheme of things, the needs of others take precedence over my personal wishes.
Speaking of meeting needs --- How many Port-A-Potties with diaper changing stations do you need to provision for an all-day event with 15,000 people? Do you ever wonder about such things when you read stories like this in the Bible? I do. Maybe it’s the perversity of my engineering mind, or a habit I developed when I was goffer for my wife when she was Special Events Coordinator for a large church we were part of in Grand Rapids, back in the day when we had energy for such things.
The character of our savior was on display that day. When his plans were disrupted he reacted with compassion and grace, not with irritation. He didn’t fault them for being needy or sick. He met their need and healed their sicknesses. He didn’t fault them for needing instruction, he taught. He didn’t fault them for being like sheep without a shepherd, he had compassion on them.
He feeds and heals us too. He is our teacher. He is our good shepherd. He doesn’t fault us when we lose our way. He is the way.
Prayer: Lord, I confess that I am often needy just like that crowd was. I need provision, healing, teaching and direction. Thank you that you are my good shepherd and your compassion never fails. I’m trusting you today for all I need.