Today’s Reading - Matthew 14
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. - Matthew 14:13-14
Jesus finds himself landing on the seashore with anticipation of spending some quiet time alone. That was short lived as the news of his life-changing ministry was spreading like a wildfire and people were eager to be in his presence. Jesus was drawing a large crowd wherever he went. This moment was no different as he was quickly surrounded by a large number of people who were now in his presence. Eager to be where they were and now living in the reality of fulfilled desire. Because these two short verses precede the story of the feeding of the five thousand and we know it, the jump to the familiar is often quick and we just assume Jesus just began doing what he does, healing the sick. But wait. Don’t miss the importance of the preceding phrase, he had compassion on them. Pay attention to the word compassion and pause to understand what first happened in the heart of the Healer. He saw a crowd, he saw great need, he was brokenhearted by the need, he could meet the need, and then he poured out his love to those in need and became the giver of new life, the Healer. We are given no further details of the activity of the day. There may have been so much need Jesus spent all day pouring out compassionate love on the people. He may have paused and taught them and gave them instructions. We do know what followed was the miracle we are so familiar with. We learn much about Jesus and how to live as a follower of Him if we don’t always skip to the familiar. It is important that our desire to be in the presence of God be undergirded with eagerness. Too often our eagerness, then our desire, then actually being in His presence is sacrificed on the altar of busyness and convenience. There were probably some people related to this story that stayed home and said they would go next time and next time never fit their schedule. When we act on our desire and seek the presence of God, know He first sees you with compassion and then pours out healing love into your life. Your need is worthy to break the heart of God. Don’t be distracted by anything you have seen or heard in the past, go into His presence and allow the compassionate heart of an all-mighty God give you new life.
Heavenly Father, we come today running into your presence not with a list of things we want to simply make our life more convenient or feel good, but with needs which would transform us and give us new life. We need you to be the Great Physician and heal the sick with a heart of compassion. Forgive us for sitting idly by and assuming there will be a next time. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.