A short reflective post from my personal devotions today:Jesus feeding the 5000 is one of the most renowned and amazing miracles of His ministry but, as I read the miracle in context as recounted in Matthew 14: 13-21 today, I noticed something that I had never seen. When we look at the events preceding this miracle, we see something amazing.
Matthew 14:1-12 deals with the death of John the Baptist. John was Jesus' cousin and, arguably, one of His closest friends aside from the disciples. John was beheaded by Herod, the Roman ruler of the region at the time. In verse 12 John's disciples deliver to Jesus the news of His friend's death.
Verse 13 picks up the story "Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns." Christ had just heard of the beheading of His friend and cousin. This must have been a massive blow to Him. While He was fully God, Jesus was also fully man while He walked this earth. Like everyone else, He needed time to mourn a loss. He was trying to get away, just for a little while, to process and mourn His friend. But the crowds wouldn't let Him.
They relentlessly followed Him. Rather than becoming angry and shooing them away, as most of us and certainly I would have done. Instead, verse 14 says "He had compassion on them and healed their sick." At the one of His hardest moments emotionally, Christ had compassion for these sick people and healed them. He cared more for that throng (many of whom would reject Him) than for His own hurting heart. What Divine selflessness. He again had compassion for them and performed the miracle for which this passage is so famous.
In verse 23 He finally got some much needed alone time "And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone." But this respite was all to brief as verse 24 relates "but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them." Once again, Jesus was called into action, playing out the famous walking on the water miracle.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus never lived for Himself. His focus was always on others, the hurting, the needy, and the lost. It amazes me that after a very close death, Jesus still focused on others. What Divine compassion. What Divine Love.