Today's Devotional

Jesus' Compassionate Heart (22 July)

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, "This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat." But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." And they said to him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?" And he said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go and see." And when they had found out, they said, "Five, and two fish." Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied.
Mark 6:34-44 ESV

Can you imagine the scene? Five thousand hungry people with no leader to help them fill their empty stomachs. Jesus then steps in and becomes the shepherd of the flock, the leader of the gathering, and the one who hurries to feed them. I have enjoyed listening to many sermons on these verses under the theme of "miracles," or "feeding the hungry," or "the shepherd."

We have too often reduced this miracle to a mere supernatural multiplication of food. But there is something deeper, more significant here, summed up byMark in three small words, "he had compassion." What can we learn from these words?

Here we see Jesus, the bearer of ultimate compassion. The compassionate heart of Jesus saw hungry, empty stomachs and was moved to feed them. Jesus' compassionate shepherd's heart saw sheep without a shepherd. This was divine compassion embodied in a human heart. Jesus was not simply deciding to take over as their leader; he was not using their hunger for political reasons (in fact, when they tried to make him king afterward, he hid from them). He chose to feed them because his heart had compassion for them; he met their needs and asked nothing in return.

Our hearts should be like the heart of Jesus, soft and compassionate, not stony. Let us allow our kind feelings to appear on the surface, grow, and bear fruit. The Holy Spirit often deals with our feelings to move us to do the work he has chosen for us. If you see a hungry person, do not hesitate to feed them. If someone comes to you with nothing to wear, give them what makes them warm. Let us remember Jesus' words, "Whoever has two shirts must give one to the man who has none, and whoever has food must share it." (Luke 3:11).

- 22 JULY -

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