Matthew 14:14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
This is such a picture of Jesus’ heart. He had just been told of his cousin John’s execution by Herod, and He wanted some time away by Himself, both to grieve and to order His thoughts, since He knew He was destined for a cross Himself. However, He placed the needs of the people above His own. With 5000 men, plus women and children, this was a huge group. We don’t know how many of them needed healing, but Jesus was willing to do it. In terms of spiritual authority He could have spoken a healing command and everyone would have been healed at once, but then they wouldn’t have felt Jesus and the Father’s personal love for them, and that was a matter of great importance. We have many records of Jesus healing with just a word, but more often He touched the person being healed, and I feel that was probably the case here. That’s a lot of touching! We can add physical exhaustion to the emotional stress Jesus was experiencing. Even so, His concern was for those to whom He was ministering, rather than for Himself. The result was the astonishing miracle of feeding that great crowd from one boy’s lunch, as we know from John 6:8-9. John didn’t repeat very many of the things recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, because He wanted to add to the record, but feeding this huge crowd was too big an event to pass over, and he did add more detail. In any case, Jesus’ compassion on the people resulted not only in the healing of many but also in a major demonstration of His authority.
I find myself having more empathy for Jesus here than I might have had before, because I just did the funeral of a man I baptized 22 years ago. Over the three days of seeing him on his deathbed, then holding his wake and his funeral, the emotional exhaustion built up, and I wasn’t very enthusiastic about ministry to someone else Monday night, even though they needed my full attention. I need to remember that even on the cross Jesus was concerned for others, praying for forgiveness for us whose sins sent Him there (Luke 23:34) and interacting with the man crucified beside Him. (Luke 23:39-43) In myself I couldn’t follow that example, but as God assured Paul, His grace is sufficient to get me through anything He brings me to. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Some years ago someone came up with a catchy little illustration that has a lot of truth to it: JOY is found by focusing on Jesus, Others, and then Yourself. As has been pointed out, self-care is important, but Jesus must be my first priority, and then those to whom He sends me.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for getting me through this past weekend, and for blessing others through, and even in spite of, me. Help me be faithful, available at all times as an instrument of Your grace, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!