Posted by on Aug 2, 2020 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Miracles and Compassion

Dear Lord…as we consider your words to us this day, remind us of many ways we can help grow your kingdom through kindness and compassion. Thank you for your examples to us of helping people all through your life. We are so very thankful for the love you showed us when you gave yourself up for us on the cross….so that we always have your love, grace and forgiveness in our lives.

The Gospel readings for today are from Matthew 14:13-21. This is a very familiar passage to all of us and I’m sure you are asking…OK…I know this passage. It seems very clear…what is new there?

Well…I asked myself the same question when I found out what the reading would be. Then…I began studying and thinking even more about this lovely passage and some thoughts came through to me for sharing with each of you.

First, it will help us to look at the passage preceding this passage. The preceding verses tell of the elegant meal that Herod had prepared. Herod was worried about what he heard about Jesus through John the Baptist. John was arrested and put in prison. During this birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias was dancing and made Herod happy with her dancing. He asked what he could grant her as a gift and she replied (upon urging from her mother) that she wanted the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

When the disciples heard this, they buried John’s body and told Jesus. That is the incident that begins our text consideration for today. Jesus was mourning the death of his friend, John, and needed to withdraw from people for awhile. In fact, he went to a boat and out to the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee. He wanted and needed to be alone for awhile.

However, while he was on the boat, he saw the crowd of people gathering on the shore. They, too, had heard of John’s death and followed Jesus and the disciples to this place. So, Jesus went ashore to meet with the people….and we read that he healed the sick and tended to the needs of those gathering.

Please keep in mind that even though the writer states that there were 5,000 men, there were also women and children. With the size of this crowd, it could have equaled that of a town. That is how big this gathering was.

It was also getting to be close to evening. People were not wanting to leave. The disciples were concerned about how they were going to eat. How were the people going to eat? There was no village close to this location. They were in the wilderness. The disciples wanted to “excuse” the crowd to allow them to go to the nearest village to get some food. I’m sure that the disciples also wanted to just have a quiet time themselves.

Well, Jesus had other plans. He didn’t want the people to go away. He asked the disciples to feed the people. The disciples told him they had 5 loaves and 2 small fish. Jesus took those

items…took the food, looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves and gave them back to the disciples. Does this remind you of our service of Holy Communion? This also reminded the people, some scholars have surmised, of the feedings of Moses, Elijah and Elisha…that they had heard about in the temples. The typical meal for them was to look up to God, bless the food, break the loaves and then eat.

Yes..we all know that there was more than enough food for the large group of people that had gathered to hear and see Jesus. The leftovers totaled 12 baskets of food…something that Matthew possibly wrote as a symbol of the 12 tribes of Israel.

So, you ask, what makes all this new? We have heard this before. Let’s look at what isn’t written in the passage that makes this a valuable illustration of miracles and compassion.

First, Jesus, came off the water to talk with the people and to heal the sick. He, himself, was in mourning for His friend. But, he was moved to be with and minister to the people. Jesus had compassion for all the people…not just a specific group. The people God created were his priority. Later, we see Jesus’ ultimate compassion for the people through his death on the cross.

Then…Jesus shows his compassion for this large group of people by using his disciples and others to find food for the people. He didn’t want them shooed away to fend for themselves. His compassion provided the miracle we see here today. There are two important things to remember here. One…Jesus uses others, his disciples, to be his hands in giving blessings to others. Second…Jesus used His children to help others. The boy who had the loaves and fishes helped provide the food.

I am sure, someone will say that there was probably food hidden by some of the people there, when the crowd was the size of a city. Possibly, but that isn’t the point of this story.

The point of the story is that even small things can be used to show love and compassion for all. This reminds us that God uses us to bless others…to show compassion to His people and help others in need. Our acts of compassion can have a huge influence on people’s lives, just as this example did.

One thing I read was that this shows that Jesus is big enough for any of our expectations. He provides every need for us and often more than we could have imagined. Also, there is no obstacle that we cannot face because we have God. Think of a time when you had a huge load to carry and you didn’t know how you were going to get through it. You prayed about it and soon found that everything was working out and you had little to do with the solutions. God was taking care of you and helping you out at that time.

I’m sure at this time, all of us have felt that we just could not face what we are being asked to do and experience. This immediate time of our life is really an obstacle. How have we all made it through this? How have we shown compassion to others? (As that is what we are asked to do.)

We have images of abundance every time we drive along our roads. We give thanks for our farmers, our truckers, our grocers, our emergency management personnel, our medical personnel,
and our teachers and administrators. We give thanks for food and items we have for our existence, don’t we? We have discovered ways to help others…and have shown compassion for those who are having various issues. That’s the way we show God loves them.

Yes…we are not content with our situation right now. However, rather than being discontented about “things”…can we address the issues of inequality and discrimination that people are facing? What can we do to change this? This is something you, yourself, can answer.

This is the message of our text for today. Just as Jesus had compassion for those in need and was able to provide for them through miracles, we, too, can have compassion for those in need. God will show us the way, miraculously. In prayer, we ask for His help and guidance to minister to those in need…and through God’s love for us, He provides the way for us to minister to the people.

You have done this many times, I know. We all have…and just need to realize that it is through God’s guidance we can accomplish His will for our world.




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