Why does Jesus want us to participate with Him in showing compassion?
He was perfectly capable of healing the crowds on his own. Disciples had no power to heal. And Jesus could have easily zapped the stones and turned them to bread. But he doesn’t. Instead, he involves the disciples. Why? It’s because in the process, their hearts were changed.
14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
The disciples, you know that they are tired and hungry. They are not rejoicing that the sick are being healed the same way that Jesus must have rejoiced. They don’t share his level of compassion. The disciples are still quite immature at this point.
First, they say, it’s a remote place. In other words, even if we WANTED to help because you know Jesus we really do want to help, but oh well, we can’t, we’re in the middle of nowhere. Where could we go to buy supplies anyway? It’s getting late, I wish we could do help more people (wink, wink), but you know, it’s going to be dark soon and they should get home before dinner time. We’ve been at it all day, isn’t what we’ve done enough? Send the crowds away.
Those reasons sound legitimate. They are trying their best to sound caring. What they really meant to say is something like this. Jesus, you’re too much. Why are you healing these people? They are not appreciative. They won’t remember your name tomorrow. I don’t care about the crowds. I care about us. I care about me. I’m hungry. I’m tired. Let’s go home. That’s the uncensored look into the hearts of these disciples. Completely lacking of compassion.
Jesus knows this. He sees their hearts. He has compassion for the crowds and he is concerned about his disciples’ lack of compassion. And so he wants to teach them a lesson. Jesus doesn’t rebuke the disciples, he replies in v16 – They do not need to go away. Come on, guys. Have some heart. Show some compassion as I’ve been modeling to you all day. YOU give them something to eat.
The disciples still weren’t getting it. They respond in v17–
17 “We have here ONLY five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
I want to underscore the word, ONLY. Here’s another reason why you and I don’t show compassion. I only have five loaves and two fish. I am only 6 years old, what can I do? I’m only in college, I have no money, I can’t do anything. I only have a few hours of free time a week, what difference will that make? Our church is only a few years old and only has a handful of committed members, what dent could we possibly make in this massive problem of poverty?
Jesus says in v18 – Bring them, bring the fish and the loaves here to me. I am not sure with what tone Jesus said it. I imagine him being a bit frustrated at this point. Or at least a bit disappointed. You guys are still not getting it. Just, bring them here to me.
And Jesus takes that small meal which is only enough to feed a small group of people and he multiplies it so that 10-15 thousand, if you include the women and children, are fed and everyone is satisfied and still there was plenty left over.
Imagine what the disciple must be thinking as they were passing out the food. As they reached into the baskets and the fish and the bread kept coming and coming. They must have looked at each other and wondered, how is this happening, what is going on here? It must have been a rush just like Peter walking on the water for a brief moment.
I picture the disciples collapsing after a long day of serving others and I bet they forgot about their fatigue and hunger. Because they must have been so filled in their hearts with thanksgiving and joy and wonder because they stepped out with Jesus and showed compassion. They got the backstage look into the real miracle. The real miracle was not so much the multiplication of food. The real miracle was the hearts of the disciples changing ever so slightly. Changing and becoming less selfish, less self-centered, more compassionate, more concerned about the needs of others and less concerned about how we look before others.
When we step out of the boat in faith, when we reach out our hand and show compassion to those in need, our hearts are changed in the process. There is no greater miracle than a changed heart.
I want to end by showing 3 videos. These are different ways that we can get involved to show compassion to our neighbors during this holiday season. I choose these 3 because I am familiar with these ministries or familiar with the people serving in these ministries. Plus, it follows the pattern laid out in the Great Commission as outlined in Acts 1:8.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the ends of the earth. These are concentric circles. There are people in our immediate local context, our Jerusalem, who need compassion. Then, we widen the circle and go to our Judea and Samaria and partner with other ministries who are serving the poor in neighboring cities. Then, we think global, we think about how we can reach the ends of the earth and show compassion abroad. So these 3 ministry opportunities start close to home, then the circle keeps widening.
We’ll start with the first 2 videos and then I’ll come back and share a few words before we watch the last video.
Set Free Ministry video (Ranch in Yuicaipa)–
Being in this building gives us the privilege of serving alongside FBC. And they are very active in the community. There is a board with stars in the lobby area as you walked in and those have needs of some FBC members or friends of FBC members as well as many of them who are mothers at the Walter Hoving Home.
There are two ways you can contribute. One is you can write a check and you can make it out to the church but in the memo area indicate that you want this money to go to the FBC/Walter Hoving fund. We will use 100% of that money to buy Target and Walmart gift cards so that we can buy gifts for the families.
Then, for those who are still around, on Friday, December 21 from 6-9 pm, we will gather here to wrap and deliver the toys and food baskets to the families. This is our Jerusalem. Please prayerfully consider how you can show compassion to our immediate neighbors.
Next, we move onto Judea and Samaria. Set Free Church is a ministry that takes drug addicts and alcoholics and homeless from Skid Row in downtown LA and takes them to a ranch in Yucaipa where they detox and are ministered to. I have a special place in my heart for this ministry because it is connected to Pastor Don, whom you all know because he has spoken here numerous times. And his son, Kirk, went through that ministry and was redeemed and now he is a pastor serving there.
If you’d like to contribute, please indicate in the memo section of your check “Set Free.”
Lastly, I have a video from Compassion International.
Compassion International video
I started sponsoring my first child in college and so did Jackie and now we are on our third child. Her name is Sofia Guadalupe Zarceño Castillo. She’s 9 years old and she lives in El Salvador. This one is personal commitment. You can go to http://compassion.com and sign up to sponsor a child. It costs $38/month but you will be partnering with a local church to meet the needs of the poorest of the poor in our world.
I love their tag line–”You can release a child from poverty in Jesus’ Name.” Release is a good word because poverty is physical, emotional, mental bondage. Won’t you get involved in releasing children from poverty in Jesus name and being an agent of compassion in Pasadena, to Southern Cal, to the ends of the earth.