Take a moment today to read Matthew 14:1-21.
Part of this text, verses 13-21, will be our Gospel reading for this coming Sunday. It is important, though, to read from the beginning of the chapter because context is key. Jesus has just received from devastating news. John, his cousin and prophetic forerunner, has just lost his life at the hands of Herod. So Matthew tells us that Jesus, "...withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself." Understandably, Jesus wanted to be alone to grieve a significant loss.
But Jesus doesn't get the solitude he desired. instead, a great crowd, well over 5,000 people, follow him into the desert wilderness. But Jesus doesn't send them away. Jesus doesn't run them off. Jesus has compassion on them. Jesus heals the sick. Jesus feeds their hungry and tired bodies. Despite his own trying times, Jesus remains Emmanuel. God with us. And Jesus remains true to his mission. God for us.
Even as Jesus walked to the cross, facing the pain of crucifixion, Jesus walks with compassion for His people. All people, we included, are "like sheep without a shepherd" and in his love for us Jesus does not send us away. No, Jesus invites us to Himself so that we too may be filled up with His gifts - forgiveness, life, and salvation.
With You in Christ,