The Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can . . . find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” — Luke 9:12
The story of Jesus feeding a crowd of thousands of people weaves together themes from throughout his ministry. These include compassion, power over creation, the ability to sustain life, and involving others in responding to human needs. We also see God’s grace and providence intertwine as Jesus sends the disciples out “to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.”
It is important to realize that the people who heard the gospel and who were healed and fed were not saved and sanctified saints; they were not fully committed disciples who were ready to follow Jesus. Yet when Jesus saw their hurts and needs, he responded with love, knowing that many of them would abandon and even turn against him later. Even so, Jesus was moved with compassion, seeing their need. In the same way, he has compassion today when he sees the hurts and needs of anyone created in the image of God.
We have daily opportunities to come alongside the people around us. It could mean dropping by the hospital or the nursing home for a visit. Perhaps it involves cooking a meal for someone. Maybe it includes simply listening to another person’s story. When we seek to provide what Jesus offers, we reflect a beautiful picture of God’s compassion and care for others.
God, help us to see the needs of others not as interruptions to our day, but rather as opportunities to reflect the love of Christ for people who need it. In his name, Amen.