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May 10 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Day Fifty-three – Matthew 15:29-39

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you
And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” The disciples said to Him, “Where would we get so many loaves in this desolate place to satisfy such a large crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” Matthew 15:32-34
One morning I quickly read this passage and without time to meditate on it, ran out the door to join several hundred people for worship. I had to walk across campus to reach the chapel where the band was already warming up. The whole way there I noticed that my mind was making critical evaluations of the people whose paths I crossed.
Once worship began, I closed my eyes and began to turn my attention toward God and the words we were singing to him. But it was not easy to concentrate, because the man sitting next to me kept bumping my chair, a couple of girls nearby were talking and laughing, three men a couple of rows behind me were having a conversation in a foreign language, and people were using the space in front of me for a thoroughfare–and for some reason people never settled down but kept coming and going.
I noticed that the worship leader’s squeaky voice was sort of irritating and he asked the audience’s participation in a way that seemed manipulative–and it drives me crazy when worship leaders repeat a line over and over.
And every one of these hyper-critical thoughts was followed by Jesus’ voice, “I feel compassion for the people.”
I never realized how judgmental I was until that morning. But as the words of Jesus kept coming back to me, I became aware of his love for each person I had critiqued and I found myself becoming aware of how loveable men, women, and children appear to Jesus.
Not much has changed since Jesus fed the crowd. A vast sea of human beings are still hungry and the followers of Jesus, whose resources are grossly inadequate for the need, still find themselves overwhelmed. “How many loaves do you have?”–one of those questions that changes meaning every time you re-read it emphasizing a different word. The disciples gave their meager rations to Jesus and crowd ate until they were satisfied. We could stress the importance of entrusting what little we have to Jesus then watching him multiply it, but this morning I would rather stress the fact of Jesus himself. He is the miracle!
O Jesus, our Savior and Friend, when we get frustrated by the irritating behavior of people around us, force us to take a second look at each person. As we do that, place a lens of grace over our eyes so we see them as You see them. To see them through Your eyes will stir us up to do more good for others and heal our hearts at the same time. May we never fear the enormity of the need, but always remember Your compassion and power.
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