The Bread Of Compassion

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

Matthew 14:14

At the end of chapter 13, we are confronted with the urbane-ness of Jesus, his humanity. It is offensive to some. And here now, it would seem to be swept aside in the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. An action of divinity indeed.

But again, Jesus as God is not unsettling. It is Jesus as man that challenges us, and in the preamble to this miracle, we find just such a challenge. Read verses 13-16 of chapter 14 (i.e. omit the actual miracle from this passage) and what do we see on Jesus’ part.

Divine self-control. The guy is wrecked by the news of the injustice of His cousin’s beheading, so he takes off for a private place. Jesus wants to mourn. Instead, the paparazzi show up. And what is His response? Not what mine would be (i.e. frustration, anger, some choice words, etc). Jesus shows compassion. And patience, for he apparently goes on to spend time teaching this crowd as the hour when he finishes is late.

Even in His grief, he has compassion and patience for people. We used to sing a hymn growing up called “I Stand Amazed in the Presence” and the second verse is this:

For me it was in the garden,
  He prayed: “Not my will, but Thine.”
He had no tears for His own griefs,
  But sweat-drops of blood for mine.

While I don’t quite read the account of Jesus in Gethsemane in that way, I think the lyrics do get at the emotional life of Jesus in a meaningful way.

Jesus does not give up grief because as God it is a tap He can shut off as He needs. Jesus gives up His grief because His great love compels it.

The question I am left with is this: Do I have emotional responses that I let control me? Or do I possess the self-control to obey God even in the midst of emotional upheaval? This is not a challenge to bury our own emotions; as part of a healthy walk with God, we need to attend to them and reflect our how our emotional responses guide our lives. But having considered them, we ought to control them in a Christ-like manner too.

Lord, you can have all of me. Even how I feel.

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