By Brooke Holt
"When Jesus went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick." Matthew 14:14
For today’s passage, context provides important understanding. Jesus had just learned that King Herod had beheaded his cousin, John the Baptist. Needing time to grieve and process this death, Jesus and the disciples got into a boat to travel to a desolate place. Jesus needed time away from the crowds. As a man, he felt all the emotions you would feel about a loved one’s brutal and untimely death.
Jesus and the disciples did cross the river and came to a normally desolate place. However, the crowds, so eager to be with Jesus, had followed the boat and were waiting there to greet Jesus and the disciples once they arrived. This leads to today's passage when Jesus came ashore. Despite his own emotional state, Jesus did not get angry with or annoyed by the crowds. He did not complain to the disciples or even roll his eyes. Instead, Jesus looked on this group of people and felt compassion, so much compassion that he expended his energy and love to heal those who were sick.
It is interesting to consider what ignited Jesus’ compassion. Personally, I would have felt undone by a crowd. I would not have responded with compassion. Jesus’ response is indicative of his heart. In fact, the word compassion in the Greek language expresses something much more intense and more powerful than our English word. In this text, compassion conveys a deep expression meaning Jesus’ whole being was stirred to its lowest depth. The needs of the people stirred his gut so much so that, forgetting his own needs, he moved into full-blown ministry.
Jesus never felt overwhelmed by the needs of people. That held true then as it holds true today. His compassion combined with his love moved him to heal each person. Can you just imagine the love in his eyes as he laid hands on the sick and infirmed? Can you imagine how it felt to receive his healing touch?
Jesus still has compassion for his people. He is still deeply moved by your hurt and needs, and he is still in the business of healing. Come to him today with all your burdens and heartaches. Bring your deepest needs and regrets and receive the fullness of his compassion.
Take some time to imagine Jesus on this day. See his love. See the compassion displayed. Then ask him to make you aware of his love and compassion for you. Soak in it. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Our honest prayer before God is evidence that we understand the ways He loves, cherishes, sees, and hears us. Through prayer, we can acknowledge with Hagar, “You are the living One who sees me” (Genesis 16:14). When we pray, we are affirming the same. Why do we often hide from this privilege? Why do we avoid God, the One who sees us as we are and stands ready to provide and answer us in his holy, timely way? In this 8-week study on the prayers of Job, Ruth, Hannah, and David, grow your prayer life by facing your honest need and bringing your whole self before God. Acknowledging God as the One who guides your path can change your heart. It can take you past fear and into faith, strength, and hope. Learn more about Honest Prayer.
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