COMPASSION IN ACTION
Lord, your care for all is evident.
Read Mark 8:1–13
Jesus Feeds the Four Thousand
8 During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”
4 His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”
5 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.
“Seven,” they replied.
6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. 7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. 8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 9 About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, 10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph 4:32).
Today’s passage is very similar to 6:30–44. A large crowd gathers around Jesus in the middle of nowhere, and nobody brought a packed lunch. Jesus then miraculously feeds them and, after they are full, leftovers abound. On both occasions, Jesus is driven by compassion (6:34; 8:2). The term “compassion” refers to the shared feeling of concern for the suffering and distress of others. Throughout the Bible, God is presented as having compassion on people, leading to acts of mercy, restoration, and salvation. True compassion should lead to action.
In verses 2 and 3, Jesus seems to challenge the disciples to think about what is possible with Him when faced with the impossible. After all, they have seen earlier what Jesus can do in such a predicament. But sadly, the disciples fail to get it and view the situation simply from a human perspective (4). They even lack the wits of the Syrophoenician woman. When you face seemingly impossible situations in life, pray that you may regard them from God’s perspective.
The crowd “ate and were satisfied” (8) (cf. Mark 6:42). In the Gospels, the crowd is often characterized as being fickle. People come and go but never make a commitment to Jesus. They may enjoy Jesus’ teaching (Mark 12:37) and the free lunches He provides, but they rarely become true followers. In fact, they sometimes prove to be an obstacle for others (Mark 2:4) and turn against Jesus (Mark 15:8,11,15). Likewise, many people today prefer to move with the crowd. Have you chosen to separate from the crowd and openly follow Jesus as His disciple?
Consider the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37) and Jonah. The Samaritan showed compassion to a stranger, whereas Jonah could not accept that God had compassion on Israel’s enemies. Which do you resemble?
Lord, your ability to do great things from small means continues to amaze Your people.