“When Jesus heard the news about John, he left there in a boat and went to a lonely place by himself. The people heard about it, and so they left their towns and followed him on land. Jesus got out of the boat, and when he saw the large crowd, his heart was filled with pity for them, and he healed their sick.” Matthew 14:13-14 GNT
William Neil* observed,“… the less self-centred our lives become, and the more we are concerned for others, the less likely are we to suffer from maladjustments, neurosis, depression and similar modern ills.” We are sometimes more prone to thinking too much about ourselves, avoiding hardships wherever possible, and looking to make things more comfortable for ourselves.
Jesus’ life could not have been more selfless. His time in His three year ministry was consumed with preaching, teaching and healing – all things that required long hours of engaging with people which would leave Him drained; but Jesus had an added advantage in His daily life. His consistent pattern, and a way that dealt with life’s pressures, was to go off by Himself to spend time alone with His Heavenly Father; after which He would return to minister with renewed power. In all situations, Jesus’ capacity for compassion for people in need never faltered.
Jesus was greatly affected then when John the Baptist was put to death by Herod. The man of whom Jesus had said, “among those born of women there has arisen no one greater” (Matthew 11:11), had been beheaded to satisfy Herodias’ evil desire for revenge on him, using her daughter’s “reward” for entertaining Herod and his friends. This was shocking to anyone who knew about it, but even worse for Jesus, as John was His relative.
On this occasion when Jesus had gone off alone, He had hardly returned when the relentless multitude caught up with Him again; but instead of feeling weighed down and irritated, His compassion overflowed for these needy people, who had walked so far to see Him, and He was ready and equipped to meet their needs.
When we experience protracted times of hardship, whether through illness, grief, relationship issues, work problems or Covid-19, and we eventually reach exhaustion point, depleted of our energy, we also need to spend time with God. He will understand andclear our minds, reaffirm our faith and refresh our spirits.
“Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary we have a High Priest that was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. Let us be brave then and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that You always have so much compassion to offer to people in need. Your example encourages me when, in my weakness, I rely on my own understanding. I acknowledge my tendency to self reliance despite my lack of resources. I ask that Your strength be perfected in my weakness. Help me to go out today to show compassion to others, renewed by Your grace and empowered by Your Spirit. Amen
* The Plain Man Looks at the Bible