Jeff Overton, lead pastor
Beulah Baptist Church, Douglasville
There is a saying that has been around for a long time – “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
This is a powerful statement for the church to understand. When we look at the life of our Savior and seek to emulate Him as His disciple, we realize we must truly care for others. We need to have more than pity on them, we must have compassion on them.
This is seen in our text for this week. As Jesus and His disciples are coming off a successful mission trip and a large crowd was now following them. Mark 6:34 says that He saw the crowd and had compassion on them. As His disciples, these are steps we should take.
We must see those around us in need and be willing to respond to that need with action.
Jesus had compassion on the people. This means He saw their needs. He saw them as hungry – physically and spiritually. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. They were lost and wandering.
He had seen the people. What is interesting to note is the disciples saw the same crowd. The same hungry and wandering people were in front of the disciples and they missed the opportunity for compassion. Jesus saw with compassion and it led to action. He wanted to feed the hungry mass of people and the disciples’ response was to send them away so they could go buy themselves something to eat.
What a contrast! With Jesus, compassion always leads to action to address the need. Many of us today seem to respond more like the disciples than Jesus. We will tell someone we will pray for their need; we will hope their need is met, but we don’t address the need.
Jesus knows our needs and responds with action. He did not have pity on them and send them down the road still hungry and still searching. He fed them.
This miracle is the only miracle recorded by all four gospels. It makes me think that God truly wants to make sure we understand the need to be compassionate to the hurting and hungry people around us. It is important that we not just see the need, but that we meet the need.
Compassion without action accomplishes nothing. The hunger is still there. The pain is still there. The need calls for action.
So , Jesus ordered the disciples to feed the masses. The disciples’ reaction was not to turn to Jesus to see what He could do, but they first sought what they could do. They realized it would cost eight months of a man’s wages to feed the crowd. They quickly knew they did not have that much money.
When we are willing to let Jesus lead it is amazing what can happen. He sent the disciples out to see what they can find in the crowd. The disciples’ search resulted in five fish and two loaves of bread. Jesus took this meager offering and accomplished the great miracle of feeding over 5,000 from that little amount.
It is important for us to see how this can impact us today.
We may think we do not have anything to offer. We may think we don’t have much, but this passage demonstrates what can happen when we take what little we have and offer it to the King of Kings and Lord of lords.
I mentioned an old saying at the beginning of this study. Another one is “Little is much when God is in it.” As with the other saying, the church would be wise to acknowledge the truth in this one. The little we have, placed in the hands of our God, can bring about great results in meeting the needs of the hurting.
As disciples of Christ, we are called to live as He lived. We long to be the hands and feet of Christ in this hurting world. That means we must see as Jesus sees – with compassion. We need to ask God to open our eyes to the hurting people who are all around us.
We need to pray that we will not miss these people, but instead see them as Jesus sees them. When we see as He sees, we will respond with action and, using the resources God has given us, meet the needs of this hurting world.
Questions to consider:
• Who are the hurting people that we see around us every day?
• What are ways we – individuals, class, and church – can meet these needs?
• How can we use the act of meeting needs to lead others to a relationship with Christ?