Title: PITY WALKS AWAY, BUT COMPASSION COMES TO STAY
Text: Matthew 14:13-21
How would you react if you had just lost a loved one and you left town to be alone for a while, but people flocked after you for something they wanted from you? Would you give them a sharp rebuke and turn them away? Or would you look upon them with compassion? Read Text.
Galilee must have been a place where it was very difficult to be alone. It was a small country 50 miles north to south, and 25 miles east to west. Josepheus says that in his time within that small area there were 204 towns, none with a population of less than 15,000 people. In such a thickly populated area it was not easy to get away from people. But it was quiet on the other side of the lake. When Jesus heard of the death of John, He went to the other side to be alone. But it was easy for the crowd to see where He was going, so they went around the lake and waited for Him to arrive. When Jesus stepped out of the boat, there were some faces He sought to take a retreat from. What would you do?
Jesus looked upon them and was moved with compassion. Jesus wasn’t angry with them because His privacy was invaded; His heart was stirred because they sought something that only He could give them. So He reached out and healed them all. Not only that, but it was evening and the people hadn’t eaten all day and they were hungry; so He sought to feed them.
To look upon others with pity is weak. Pity weeps, but it walks away and leaves them with their need unfulfilled. But compassion is strong. Compassion comes to help, it comes to stay, not walk away.
When the Spirit of Christ is in you, you see the crowds with His eyes. What you are determines what you see, and what you see inspires how you will act. Our ministry to the hurting must be the same that Jesus conveyed: God cares! Jesus didn’t find hurting people a nuisance.
How can we be like Him?
1. Looking at a multitude to count heads is different than looking in their eyes. How do you think Jesus “saw” them according to Matt. 14:14? (Isn’t that just like Jesus to look past our fault and see our need?)
Insight: Jesus is the man who sees into the heart. What He sees does not turn Him away, rather it touches Him and He moves in compassion in response to the need. Matt. 9:35-38
2. If we are to see the multitudes as Jesus saw them, what do think needs to change in us? What do we do when the problem is bigger than what we can handle on our own?
Insight: To turn our head away is to be cold hearted. To make a difference in one person’s life is to do something that counts for eternity.
3. How would you classify the attitude of the disciples in Matt. 14:17? (Small thinking; we have too little to help; pessimistic.)
Application: If we are ever going to be different than the disciples, we must remember that little in the hands of Jesus is much. Jesus says, “Come to Me, however ill-equipped you think you are. Bring to Me whatever You have, however little, and I will use it greatly.”
4. But before Jesus can use us in ministering to others He needs something from us. What do you think it is? (A willingness to be used by Him; and eyes that see the hurting among the multitude.)
5. Jesus could have just made the bread appear in the hands of the multitude, but He didn’t. He did something else. What’s the simple principle of ministry according to Matt. 14:17-19? (Jesus can’t give the masses the bread of life unless we take it to them. Secondly, what they had had to be surrendered to Him so He could divide it. Jesus works through the hands of His disciples.)
Application: Jesus needs you and I because it’s through us that He meets the needs of others. It’s through us that He speaks to others. Prov. 28:27 Sometimes it seems there are more hurting people than there are willing disciples to help them, but Jesus simply says, “Take them the bread. Take them the bread!”
6. What do you think the bread is that Jesus wants us to take to the multitudes? John 6:32-35 (If we will take them Jesus, they will never be hungry again! 6:40)
7. There were several miracles performed in the story of the feeding of the multitude. What are they? (1. The miracle of multiplication of bread right before their eyes. Can you imagine what it must have been like seeing the bread multiply in your very hands? 2. The miracle of unselfishness. They were hungry, but they kept some for themselves and passed the rest on. 3. The miracle of satisfaction. What little they ate satisfied them so that they were content.)
8. How were these same three miracles duplicated in these other scriptures?
1 Kings 17:9-16
What miracle do you seek? Do you not have enough to share with others and you need God to multiply what little you have? Then give it to Him so He can multiply it!
One last insight: Matthew 14:19 says, “…and looking up to heaven…” Jesus was the one optimist who knew where to look for miracles to happen.
What you are determines what you see…and what you see inspires how you will act. What do you need to do for God to do His miracle in or through you?