Compassion by the Bushel
During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”
His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”
“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied.
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. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them.
The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
Mark 8:1-10 NIV Read More
When the gospels tell a story of something that happened, the writers accidentally drop words in that reveal something that they knew about Jesus but might have taken for granted. Mark mentions that Jesus is having compassion for the people. It’s not just a trick or a carnival act, He genuinely cares about the people and their needs.
Since Abraham called God “My God the Provider,” people have been calling on God to give them what they need. The foxhole prayer of safety, the lottery ticket holder on Saturday night, all know this prayer of “Please God give me what I want!”
In what is known as The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus asks God to “give us today the bread we need for today.” That is a little different than rescue from a foxhole or 900 million dollars paid out over 30 years or as a single lump sum. Asking God for what we need today reflects a continued dependence on God. Knowing that we only have to get what we need today shows God and molds our hearts into trusting Him to be there for us tomorrow when we need Him again.
This bread miracle isn’t like any of that. This bread miracle is instigated by Jesus because of His compassion for them. He *sees the obvious need before they form committees to come and ask Him for another bread miracle. Instead, they are following along and listening to His teaching. They are figuring out the food part as they go, because to them, that isn’t the most important part.
When Jesus has compassion, He doesn’t use a suggested serving size. He has compassion and goes way overboard. The blind that were given their sight didn’t need glasses. The lame that were healed would dance and jump around. They didn’t even limp. When Jesus has compassion on the people and their hunger, He gives them enough bread to have seven basketfuls left over.
Imagine 7 basketfuls of bread leftover for a minute. If we had a OneLife Core dinner together and there were 7 laundry baskets of any food leftover, somebody would be in trouble! THAT is the compassion of the Lord. Nobody was in trouble. Nobody was even close to hungry. From His compassion, not their greed, every single person was fed like Thanksgiving.
Sometimes we don’t know what we need, so we don’t know what to ask God. From this example and others, His compassion is enough to cover everything we could imagine and leave a crisis of leftovers. Before any other ask, let’s ask for compassion. Keep your eyes open and your baskets ready.
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