21 March 2011

Compassion Vs. Miracle

You may wonder why I would use ‘vs’ instead of ‘and’ between two seemingly compatible words, but that would hardly make my point.

In Mark 6:30-34 it says

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.  Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.  But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.  When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  So he began teaching them many things.

I gotta say, if I was one of those disciples, ‘compassion’, would not have been the verb running through my head.  With this in mind I’ll continue with verses 35-37

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him.  “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late.  Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 

But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”

They said to him, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages!  Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

The disciples had a good point.  Not only was Jesus asking them to show compassion when they were very tired, but now it seemed he wanted them to give away all of their money as well.

Jesus never promised a miracle.  The disciples knew that he could do them, but all they could see was what they had to give of themselves, which was every ounce of energy they had left and every spare cent (does that ever sound familiar?). What Jesus asked them to do was to act on compassion (notice the word ‘act’).  This is what follows in verses 38-44

“How many loaves do you have?” he asked.  “Go and see.”

When they found out, they said, “Five-and two fish.”

Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.  So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves.  Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people.  He also divided the two fish among them all.  They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.  The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

Jesus never asked them for more than they had, but I wonder sometimes as we seek to see miracles are we missing the opportunity because as Jesus moves us to act, we give excuse after excuse?  ‘I’m too tired’, ‘I don’t have enough’, ‘that’s somebody else’s job’.  And then we wonder why we never get to see miracles.

**Important side note!  After this amazing miracle, please notice that Jesus Immediately made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him while he dismissed the crowd.  Times of rest do come and are important and Jesus made sure they had the rest they needed!

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