feeding the hungry October 13 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Mark 6:14-29; Matthew 14:1-12; Luke 9:7-9; Mark 6:12-13; Luke 9:6; Mark 6:30-44; Matthew 14:13-21; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15

Empathy and Compassion

All around the world there are calamities. Perhaps these calamities take the form of hurricanes, floods, fires, or even famines. Do we have strong feelings of compassion for those who are homeless, persecuted, sick, tired, or hungry? Would we be hospitable and give whatever comfort we could, or would we just send them away? Jesus empathized with the way people were feeling and helped them.

John the Baptist was in prison, being persecuted for boldly speaking up against immorality. Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee and Perea, had married his brother Phillip's wife (Herodias). Apparently, this was unlawful even for the Romans. Out of anger against John's stand, Herod's wife, Herodias, tricked Herod into beheading John by working her will through her daughter. Her daughter pleased Herod by her dancing, and he foolishly promised to give her whatever she wanted. Advised by Herodias, she asked for the head of John the Baptist.

Apparently, just about the same time that Jesus was told about John’s execution, the twelve apostles came back and reported to him what they had taught and the results of their ministry. They were tired and needed rest and refreshment. They probably grieved with Jesus when they heard about John the Baptist. Jesus and his disciples went to a solitary place to get away for a while. People today, as then, however, do not know we are grieving or deeply troubled by something, or perhaps just tired, and they sometimes make demands of us. The crowds following Jesus saw him and his disciples get into a boat, so they walked around the Lake of Galilee and met them on the other side. Did Jesus get mad and tell them to go away? To our astonishment, Jesus did not send the crowds away. Instead, Jesus had compassion on the multitude that followed him. He, though tired and grieving, healed their sick and taught the people. What a day!

Late in the day, the disciples wanted to send the people home so that they could find something to eat. The crowds of people had traveled far and were tired and hungry. Jesus sympathized with them. He asked the disciples to give them something to eat. The disciples were incredulous. There were 5,000 men + women and children, and all that the disciples were able to scrounge around and find was a boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish. The small meal could not feed the twelve apostles, let alone the huge crowd. If they gave the food away, what would the disciples eat? How could they possibly feed the large crowd? Jesus asked them to take what they had and distribute it to the people. The small meal multiplied greatly so that all were fed, and twelve baskets of bread and fish were left over. It was a miracle!

What can we learn from this miracle? First, God wants us to exercise compassion even when we are stressed. For instance, moms and dads may come home tired and stressed and yet their spouse or children have emotional or physical needs that must be met. They may have had a tough day at work or school, and though we have had a tough day, too, we must put that aside for their sake. They may be hungry, and though we, too, are hungry, we must meet their physical needs. Second, though we are not promised miracles, God can do things with what we have if we are willing to give it. Third, Jesus gave thanks to God for the food that was found and then gave it away. Do we keep what we have or are we willing to give it away? Fourth, by giving the small portion of food away, not only was Jesus’ compassion demonstrated but also the power of God so that people would believe.

Lessons to live by:

  • Life is sometimes very demanding, and God may allow us to be stretched to our limit. At these times and always God is our source of strength and sufficiency.
  • Our circumstances may look impossible. We may not have the resources, but if we are obedient to do what the Spirit of God leads us to do, we will see his power and his sufficiency for all things.
  • God wants us to exercise compassion and empathy even if we are stressed.
  • Do you know the God of compassion? Jesus, God's Son, saw our need of forgiveness, peace and spiritual life and gave his life in our place (more...)

Today’s Bible Memory Verse:

Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (NIV)

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