We’ve been studying the Gospel of Matthew in our Sunday school class. You really learn so much when attempting to teach others. In chapter 12 the religious leaders accused Jesus of being possessed by a devil, and there seemed to be division between he and his own Mother and brothers. In the 13th chapter we read where his own hometown didn’t believe in him, and finally in the first part of chapter 14 Herod, who represents the Gentile world, had John the Baptist killed signifying he didn’t really want what Jesus had to offer either.
So Jesus, obviously saddened by the news of John’s death, went to find somewhere to be alone. This is where conviction came in for me. The Bible says, “Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.”
Jesus had been rejected by the Jewish religious leaders, separated from his earthly family, rejected by his hometown and the Gentile world, and then hears about John the Baptist being killed. Yet, even though he didn’t have anytime to himself, he was present and available to help others.
As I read Matthew 14:13-14 it was as if God showed me how most of us would have responded. Let me illustrate for you. This is my version mind you. “When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and growled and yelled at them saying, can’t you see I’m mourning here? I just can’t deal with this right now! Leave me alone!”
Maybe you’re different, but most of the time we come up with reasons to justify mistreating others. We say things like, “I haven’t had my coffee yet”, or “I’m tired, I didn’t get enough sleep last night” or “I just got home from work, ask me later.” I’m sure you could fill in several more excuses as to why you are unfriendly, impatient or snippy with people, but do you see why this brought me conviction?
Jesus never gave in to those fleshly urges to lash out at others in that way; and that is what walking in the Spirit is all about. We all have times in our lives when we lose a job, don’t feel well, have to bury a friend or maybe it’s just that things aren’t going our way; but according to God we really have no excuses to mistreat others simply because we are agitated. I know, I know I don’t like this kind of talk either but I’m just sharing what we talked about in Sunday school this morning, settle back down will you?
What’s even more amazing is the rest of the story. After Jesus showed the crowds compassion instead of grumpiness he sat them down and fed them. The disciples came up to him telling him “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves. But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” You see the disciples were thinking they needed to earn their food, in other words they needed to work for it, whereas Jesus wouldn’t have it. He wanted to freely give them something to enjoy and that’s what he did. You see even though we haven’t been too good, even in our attitudes most of the time, God loves us and freely showers his blessings on us.
Thank God for his grace, mercy and love for us. There is nothing we can do to earn the provision he provides us everyday. I know things happen that are hurtful and we don’t like but we don’t have to lash out at others. The next time you find yourself about to strike out ask yourself “What’s your excuse for the attitude?”