If you had miraculous powers and could do anything, what would you do? How would you use them? Why would you use them? Would you try to impress somebody? To benefit yourself?
Many of us would use our supernatural powers to help other people … but only if it didn’t cost us anything.
As we continue our journey through the life of Jesus, we come to a story which shows the miracle-working power of Jesus. Here’s one thing we learn: Compassion is more than a feeling. It is a feeling that leads to redemptive action.If you’re just joining us, we’ve been looking at the life of Jesus as recorded by Mark, one of his earliest followers. In chapter 6, we came across a similar story – a similar miracle.
Now in chapter 8 we find Jesus performing the same miracle again …
1 During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.” – Mark 8:1-3
When Jesus said “I have compassion on these people”, he was referring to more than a feeling. For Jesus, loving people meant teaching AND feeding them.
The word compassion originally meant the moving of the inner parts of your body. We say things like, “That made my stomach turn.” When we do, it’s usually something that is beyond normal decency.
It’s when a child is mistreated or when we hear about another mass shooting.
Because we live in a day of instant information, if we’re not careful we will become desensitized to things that ought to make our stomachs turn.
For Jesus, this was a human problem. For the disciples, it was a logistical problem.
4 His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?” 5 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied. – Mark 8:4-5
The disciples had correctly identified the problem but had failed to see a potential solution. Which is a bit ironic since it was just a few chapters earlier that Jesus had feed 5,000 people.
But … before we come down too hard on the disciples, how many times have you and I forgotten what God has done for us?
Our oldest daughter spent the first 8 days of her life on life support in the infant intensive care unit. I didn’t shave for 8 days (and had the beginnings of a good goatee). I prayed like I had never prayed before.
God was faithful and she has grown to be a wonderful young lady (almost 22 years old!).
But as a dad, it’s humbling to admit how many times since then I have worried about lesser things … like when she traveled overseas or was learning to drive.
We want to be like Jesus yet we are often most like the disciples.
6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha. – Mark 8:6-10
What do we learn from this story? If compassion is more than a feeling, what actions should it lead us to taking?
Action 1 – Thankfulness and generosity.
For the sincere follower of Jesus who doesn’t want to become desensitized to the needs around us, it can feel overwhelming at times. Jesus only had seven loaves of bread and a few small fish (would a few LARGE fish have made a difference?).
But Jesus didn’t complain about what he didn’t have … he gave thanks for what he did have.
Be thankful for what you do have and be generous with it.
Action 2 – Brokenness.
If something is broken it generally loses its value. Coffee cup. Window. But it’s different in the kingdom of God. Broken things can valuable.
Jesus breaks the seven loaves and feeds 4,000 people. In the hands of Jesus, broken people are useful people.
The following words were written by a man who had been a king and a warrior:
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. – Psalm 51:17
You will be amazed at how useful you become when your hearts breaks for the same things that break the heart of God.
Experience and Background
- 25+ years of senior leadership experience
- masters in business administration (mba)
- presenter at the WFX National Conference
- former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
- helped start 2 for-profit tech companies
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