“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” (Mark 6:34, NIV)
Outside of Jesus’ resurrection, the only miracle recorded in all four Gospel accounts is Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000. And of those accounts, only Mark tells us Jesus’ motivation for the miracle: Jesus’ compassion.
It doesn’t happen every week, but it happens more often than you might think: Someone comes up to me after church and says something like: “You were reading my mail today” or “you were talking to me today, Preacher.” There have been times when a few of these folks were angry that I would dare preach a sermon about them!
But that’s the thing with the Bible – when you read it, you meet yourself right there in its pages. The people out there clamoring that the Bible is irrelevant to modern life have never really read it. Sure the characters and the cultures are ancient, but they are much more like today than we sometimes care to admit.
The crowd, for instance, it’s a perfect picture of us. We are hungry – but not just for food. We are searching for meaning and purpose in life. Isaiah asks: “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isaiah 55:2, NIV). But we tend to be spiritually blind and we tend to want to take the easy road. And Jesus has answers…because he is full of compassion.
That’s why, when Jesus says: “I am the bread of life” and “…I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53, NIV) the crowd calls this a “hard teaching,” grumbles, and walks away. Only the 12 remained. The crowd had questions for which they were seeking answers. Jesus answered. They just didn’t like his answer. Sound familiar?
Until we learn to accept Jesus – as he is and not of our own making – we’ll never fully experience the life he wants for us.
Join us Sunday and we’ll talk about this “hard teaching of Jesus” in our sermon series “Present Tense Jesus.”