Summary: Christ’s Compassion on the hungry - spiritually and physically
† In Jesus Name †
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:2 (ESV)
It must have been a sight to see, as they ran along the side of the sea. It started in a busy town, perhaps with a few men and teens, but as they ran together, more and more people joined the run. It grew to fifty people, and as they passed through other small villages, these people too joined the rush, and soon there were hundreds. It continued on, growing larger and larger, and by the time the crowd at a full run stopped, there was close to 15,000 people.
Running in their robes, some wearing sandals, others barefoot. These weren’t professional athletes, but the people of towns and villages. Carpenters and housewives, fisherman and teenagers, little children and grandparents – all running to a place where only a hermit would live. Running in the rugged terrain that encircles the Sea of Galilee. Imagine every person in Anza, and Aguanga, from the youngest child, to the oldest retiree, running to a point on the map.
For what? To see a preacher? To see him and his 12 road weary assistants? We look back, and we know that they sought was Jesus the Messiah, the one Peter describes as ‘having the words of life”. But back then, what drove them to rush along the shore?
To hear a man explain God’s word?
Maybe to see a miracle or two?
15,000 people? Running with everything in them?
What they saw, more importantly for them, who saw them, and how did He react? Those are the things we shall explore in today’s’ sermon…
He saw, and having seen, had compassion
Have you ever been so emotionally drawn into a situation, that it affected you physically? It might simply be that you started to cry, because the situation was so overwhelming, that you didn’t even have the energy to wipe away the tears. It is far more than just pity, there becomes a connection between you, and them. A feeling like you have to do something, but there is noting possible to do.
As the boat nears the shore, and Jesus sees 15,000 people, that feeling overcomes our Lord. The word in English is that he had “compassion” on them. In Greek, the word is far more forceful – it literally means that it overwhelms, starting in the spleen. One translation I think uses our closes term, Jesus saw them, and his heart broke. It produced a gut level reaction in Him, that these people had no hope, that they had no shepherds to care for them, to guide them towards God.
Why else would they so desperately seek Him out?
Jesus’ heart breaks, He has a vicious gut level reaction to seeing the people of Israel wandering around in their lives. These people aren’t supposed to have to run to the middle of the wilderness to hear the words of God. Each village had a synagogue, with the Torah on scrolls. Each had men appointed as leaders of the synagogue, and as scribes, who were tasked with much the same job as I have now, to point the people to God, to His love for them, to call them back to the relationship God has always wanted for them to have… with Him.
The truth in Jeremiah’s time, is still true when Christ takes a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee centuries later. The people of God are still allowed to go their own way – to scatter in as many directions as possible. Ephesians 4 pictures this same problem; saying people are tossed about by the waves, and blown about by the wind of every new doctrine crafted by humans.
Need a reason to justify this sin or that? Someone out there has developed a doctrine to do exactly that. Want to seem pious and knowledgeable about scripture? Not a problem, there are places that will provide that, with arcane and special teachings about end times and the secrets of the Bible, and never once deal with Jesus dieing on the cross, to pay for your sins. You can even get so far into the mechanics of the worship of our faith, that the mechanics become more important than He who is worshipped. Meanwhile the people that God so desires to have a relationship with, are killed off, or their faith is killed off, as they are lead to believe there is no need for faith, or repentance, or walking with God.
It is enough to make a pastor cry, and it was more than enough to make Jesus’ heart break, as He taught by the seashore.
The people, caught up in their own sin, were so desperate for some hope, that they would run miles and miles, through villages and towns, 15,000 strong, to hear someone who people said were different, because he taught as one from God should teach.