POURING OUT IN OUR TIMES OF TROUBLE
Matt. 14:12-14 Then his disciples came and took away the body (of John the Baptist) and buried it, and went and told Jesus. ¶ When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.
All of us know what it means to face difficult times, how we respond in those times will ultimately define our lives. Today’s scripture gives us a glimpse into the personal, human side of Jesus, this has been a source of great strength to me many times. Jesus had just heard the news of John’s execution, he knew what that meant. His days were also numbered. He had decided to retreat to a quiet, remote location with his disciples for prayer and reflection but life was not going to allow such luxuries. The crowds of hungry, desperate, hurting people followed Him out into the wilderness. Jesus was obviously grieving over the death of John as well as pondering the implications of His death on His own life and ministry. In the midst of His greatest conflict to date, He stepped into an incredible, possibly unprecedented time of ministry. He ministered to the people for several days, miracles were breaking out as He healed the sick. Next, He performed one of the greatest miracles of His ministry, the feeding of the 5000 with five pieces of bread and two small fish. That night He walked on the water and stilled the storm. When He got to land, listen to Mark’s account of what happened next. Mark 6:53-56 ¶ “When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret and anchored there. And when they came out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, ran through that whole surrounding region, and began to carry about on beds those who were sick to wherever they heard He was. Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.” Next, He gave His famous sermon in the synagogue about the Bread of Life. During His darkest hour He unleashed a frenzy of ministry that had never been seen before.
This is the story that inspired our first Feed the Multitudes. Our church was going through its darkest hour. In the midst of our trouble The Lord challenged us not to back off, not to have a pity party, but to launch our most ambitious ministry to date. He said throw a giant free food festival for the hungry and hurting people in your city. That first Feed the Multitudes was twenty four years ago, it became a defining moment for our church. That first day a miracle happened. Sure there were plenty of people who were ministered to spiritually and physically, I don’t want to downplay that. The greatest miracle that has happened every July 4 since that time has happened in the hearts of our church. We are learning what it means to be moved with compassion.