The Compassion of the Universal King
The Compassion of the Universal King
“And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, “I feel compassion for the people.”
Sometimes, we feel abandoned by our political leaders. They reside in Washington D.C., and make decisions that affect us all but have no idea about our struggles and how their decisions affect us locally. If they genuinely understood our community and setting, their choices would be different.
Sometimes, we feel the same way about God in our Christian life. Because we cannot see, touch, or hear his voice, we sometimes wonder if God is also distant, remote, and unconnected with the circumstances and situations we face today.
In the passage before us, we find many similarities between this event and the feeding of the five thousand recorded in chapter 14. Some have even suggested that the two events are the same. However, not only are the numbers different, but a crucial distinction points to two separate instances. In verse 29, we find that Jesus went by the Sea of Galilee and then up to the mountain to teach the people. However, in verse 13, the events happened on the western banks of the Sea of Galilee, where the population was Jewish, and the people he spoke to were Jewish. However, we find in Mark 7:31 that Jesus was now on the east side of the river and that Jesus was ministering in the area of the Decapolis, which was the Gentile territory. In chapter fourteen, Jesus provided bread to the Jewish people to demonstrate that he was the Messianic King who had come to provide for the people. However, now Jesus is ministering to Gentiles, and the four thousand (which, counting the women and children, would probably been closer to ten thousand) would have been various nationalities. By feeding the five thousand, Jesus demonstrated his concern for the needs of the Jews and that he was the Messianic king who cared deeply about his people. But now he shows that same concern and compassion to the Gentiles. Just as he healed all those who were Jews who came to him, now he heals all those who are Gentiles who come to him. He demonstrates his compassion for all people and that he is the Messianic king for all humanity, not just the Jews.
The word “compassion” in verse 32 is the same word used in 9:36 of Christ’s compassion for the Jews. The word is very intense, for it not only speaks of natural emotions, but it refers to the compassion that one has at the deepest level and is felt in the total personality. Jesus had been ministering to the needs of the people, and he was deeply moved because of it. Having ministered to them, Jesus was unwilling to send them off in a way that they would still face suffering on the way home. Whenever Jesus ministered to people, he was not casually involved but fully engaged in his concern for them.
This compassion that Jesus demonstrated for all people, regardless of nationality, is the same deeply rooted compassion he has for us. God deeply cares and is moved at the core of his being because of our struggles, trials, and circumstances today. No matter what you are going through, no matter how trivial or how impossible the difficulties you face, God is fully engaged, fully aware, and deeply concerned. He cares deeply and is moved to care for us. Furthermore, he acts on our behalf in ways that are far beyond the needs we have. In the bible, seven is often the number of completion. By gathering seven large baskets, Christ demonstrated to the Gentiles that his care and provision were complete. He does not act half-heartedly to enable merely to get by. He provides in far abundance to care for the needs we face. If the circumstances seem overwhelming to you in the present, remember that they are not overwhelming to God. He deeply cares and will provide far beyond what you need to overcome the trials you face.