Unlike us sometimes, Jesus didn't allow circumstances to dictate whether or not He chose to act compassionately. We need to take that to heart, for unchurched people are looking for reasons to attend a church and associate with believers in Christ. Nearly 60 percent of non-church-attenders say they would be more likely to step inside if they felt the church "cared for them as a person" (2009 Lifeway survey).
Jesus cared for individuals even when He faced bitter times. John the Baptist, the man God used to "prepare the way" for Jesus and who had baptized Him, was brutally executed by Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee (Matthew 14:6-11). When Jesus "heard the news," He experienced sadness and grief and left on a boat to go to a remote place (v.13). His heart was heavy as He dealt with the death of John and perhaps considered His own future sacrifice. During His moments alone on the boat, per His consistent pattern, it's likely He prayed, calling out to His heavenly Father. When Jesus stepped from the boat, He was greeted by thousands of people. They had left their homes and towns to follow Him. But now they were in the wilderness without food.
Though still grieving, "Jesus . . . had compassion on them and healed their sick" (v.14). What's more, He provided for their physical needs by giving them all a miraculous meal (vv.20-21).
To show compassion will often require us to leave convenience far behind. The times we're called to display it may be when our own hearts are heavy or when we're tired. That's the perfect time to call out to our heavenly Father, seeking His comfort and counsel. Then we can pour out Christlike compassion on the people around us who are looking for the reality of Jesus in our words and actions. , Tom Felten
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