Go and Do Likewise

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Jesus taught his followers to have compassion for others and often during His ministry showed compassion for others. We are, in the next three posts, going to examine three instances in which Jesus showed compassion. The first was on the occasion that  he fed the 5,000 as recorded in Matthew 14:13-20. The second was when he healed two blind men as found in Matthew 20:29-34. The third is was when he raised a young man from the dead in Luke 7:11-17. We will examine each of these incidents in turn to see what we might learn from them.

First, what happened when Jesus had compassion on the multitudes? Matthew 14:14 says: “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” We know that Jesus performed miracles, not to just make the recipients lives better, but to confirm that  He was the Son of God and that the words which He spoke were from God (Mark 16:20).

Nonetheless, He healed also because He cared for the sick. He was so moved with compassion for them because they had no shepherd to lead them, that He later fed them with a miracle so they would not have to leave Him, the good shepherd, who was teaching them. Today, the bible outlines that we are to have elders to shepherd the local church, so He has not left us without guidance, even today.

This passage proves that Jesus is sensitive to our physical needs as well as out spiritual needs. He was moved with compassion for the multitudes who had gathered to hear him, so he healed their sick and later fed them, thus meeting their physical needs. Will he not do the same for us today?

When we pray to the Father that he meet our physical needs, we can be assured that, if it is His will, He will meet them. He does not always heal our physical ailments when we ask Him, but may know instead, as He did with the Apostle Paul, that we are better spiritually being humbled by our “thorn in the flesh.” (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). We may be left in our physical infirmities because through weakness we are made strong.

This does not mean that Jesus does not have compassion for us in our infirmities and in our need to meet our physical needs. He has promised that God will meet these needs if we will put God and His kingdom first and seek it first, even ahead of our need to work to meet our physical needs and the needs of others. (Matthew 6:33). God and His Son have compassion on us in our struggles and will do what is best for us, if we will put them first in out lives.

So, we must have compassion on others who are less fortunate that us, as Jesus shows by His example we are to do. It must be noted that even though Jesus fed 5,000 who were hungry here, that it is not the work of the church to feed the hungry.

There is no example in the New Testament of churches ever giving of their their treasury to feed the poor in general, but, just as Jesus fed those who were hungry to hear His word so that He could continue to teach them and meet their spiritual needs, so churches are shown to give benevolence to other members of the church only, so that ultimately the church may meet their spiritual need for worship and salvation.

Jesus did not, and we should not, make it a work of the church to lure the poor into the pews with free food. Rather, the church should focus on spiritual needs and leave the showing of compassion for those of the world to individual members. The church is not authorized to offer food through soup kitchens or even suppers to expedite the spread of the gospel, but rather let the gospel itself bring true truth seekers into the fold.

That’s not to say that individual Christians do not have this responsibility to help others of the world. We should have compassion, as Jesus did here, and help those who are in need as we are able and have opportunity ( see the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37). To be a good neighbor to others we must help others as we are able. As Jesus taught and continues to teach us, we should “Go and do likewise.”

May God bless and keep you until next time.

 

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