Pastor’s Ponderings: Compassion for the Broken

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Pastors Ponderings | 3 comments

The following devotional was written by our pastor, Rev.  Jim Bolton…


PLEASE READ: Mark 6:32-44

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 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.

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

The Compassion of Jesus

This is a familiar story to many. While we tend to focus on the fact that Jesus performed this great miracle with food, yet I am always taken by a phrase in verse 34, “He (Jesus) had compassion on them.” As Jesus looked at the crowd of people following Him, He saw their great physical, emotional, and spiritual need and was moved with compassion.

This word which we translate as “compassion” comes from an interesting Greek word which literally means, “affection, to be overwhelmed with mercy; pity, moved to do something…” In other words, Jesus identifies with the people through this deep, powerful, intense and overwhelming compassion within Himself. He doesn’t just feel sorry for them and as the Greek definition points out, His compassion motivated Him to do something which would assist the people and remedy the situation.

Compassion is a trait demonstrated by disciples of Jesus Christ. In Mark 6:37 Jesus instructs His disciples to give the crowd something to eat. As someone once said, “Jesus is teaching that emotional compassion accomplishes nothing IF it doesn’t motivate one to action.” Scripture supports this in many places (see for example: Galatians 6:2, Acts 20:35, 1 Thessalonians 5:14).

The Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther wrote, “To love, [to have compassion] means to bear another’s burdens. Christians must have strong shoulders to bear the burdens of their fellow Christians.” Luther would add that as people of God we must have compassion like Christ and be “little Christs” in the world.


What about Us???

All of this brings us to the question, if Jesus had compassion for the crowds, what are we to do? Jesus loves us and He loves all of the human family. He understands us, loves us, and asks us to extend the love, compassion and grace which we have received and give it to others.

The “compassion” of Jesus is seen beautifully in the story of a very small boy. He was probably 8 or 9 years old. This boy went into a pet shop to buy a puppy. He looked and looked for just the right one. He told the owner that he would be back with the money to buy a puppy in a couple of weeks.

During those weeks the boy worked very hard; washing cars, mowing lawns, doing chores around the house. Finally, when he had earned enough money he went back to the pet shop. He looked at all of the puppies one more time and selected a puppy that was disabled, unable to run and walked only with great effort.

He walked up to the storeowner and handed him the money. When the storeowner saw the puppy the boy had picked he told him to go pick another puppy because this puppy would never be able to play or run because it was disabled. The boy just smiled and said he was sure this is the puppy he wanted and that it was just the puppy for him. As the boy walked out the owner started to say something, but then remained silent. Suddenly he knew why the boy had picked that puppy, for extending out of the boy’s trousers was a brace on his leg.

Why did the boy want that dog? The same reason Jesus wants us, He knows how we feel and He is motivated to do something about it.


Pastor Jim

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To see other “Pastor’s Ponderings”, Click Here.








Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Chuck

    Getting back to the topic of Pastor Jim’s devotional,
    Here’s a leading question to think about (open to anyone)…

    God is holy; He can’t tolerate sin. Then how can He show compassion to us since we all are sinful? In other words- how do you love the sinner and hate the sin? How’s that play out in real-life practical terms?

  2. Jane Pape

    I am enjoying these so much, so much better then face book.
    Also enjoying being able to listen to your sermons when I am not breathing well and do not make church.
    Pastor Jim you are such a blessing to PUMC, and it seems it all comes very natural to you.
    I also enjoyed one of your quiz’s, shows how much I don’t know : )
    Thank you.

    • Chuck

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the site; hopefully it’s a tool to bring others into the life of our church and to help all of us to grow closer to Christ.

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