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)
I am sure that most of you will be well acquainted with the story of Jesus' miracle of feeding the five thousand. It's one that I have known since I was a small girl, but it was only during a recent sermon at church that I was struck by the power of verse 34. If you read the preceding verses, you find that Jesus' original plan was for his twelve disciples to go away to a quiet place and get some rest and spend quality time with him. But when the people find out where Jesus is headed, they run on ahead to meet him there. Instead of trying to slip away again with his disciples, Jesus had compassion on the people because they were lost sheep and chose to teach them "many things" instead.
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And Jesus doesn't only show his compassion by teaching the people from the word instead of having some quiet time with his disciples. If you read further along after verse 34, you see that he further shows his compassion for the people in the actual feeding of the five thousand. Jesus' disciples tell him that it's late and to send the people away to find their own dinner, but instead, he chooses to provide a filling meal for the five thousand men (and who knows how many women and children) in attendance.
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Seeing Jesus' compassion so powerfully displayed in this passage got me thinking about whether I show compassion to others. According to Dictionary.com, the word "compassion" means "a feeling of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another, often including the desire to alleviate it". While I could boast about the ways I perceive that I show compassion to those less fortunate, honesty forces me to admit that this is another area in my life on which I need to improve. To get you thinking about ways you could emulate Jesus and show compassion to others, here are some ideas which came to my mind. It's not an exhaustive list and I would love if you want to share any other ideas you have!
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Some Acts of Compassion:
- sponsoring a child through a Christian aid organisation
- sending a letter to and/or praying for those in your church or community who are struggling
- cooking a meal for someone who is ill or going through hard times
- spending time with those who are feeling lonely and isolated
- volunteering to help out in a soup kitchen or other similar charity group
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