Grief and Compassion
30 March 2018
GraceNotes – A Journey of Discovery
Scripture: Matthew 14:12-14 (Click link for scripture in Bible Gateway)
12 Later, John’s disciples came for his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus what had happened. 13 As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. 14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:12–14 NLT)
We don’t know much about the relationship between Jesus and his cousin John the Baptist. We know their mothers Mary and Elizabeth were close and that Mary spent the first three months of her pregnancy with Jesus at the home of Elizabeth who was in the last three months of her pregnancy with John. We know they both understood the key roles each played in God’s Kingdom plan. When news reached Jesus of John’s murder by Herod, it hit him hard. He was grieving the death of his cousin, and he needed time and space to grieve, process, and recharge.
John’s death was a fresh reminder of the danger of going against established religious tradition and political power. Crossing Lake Galilee, Jesus thought about John’s death, about the dangers and challenges ahead, about his own death to come at the hands of people he came to save. He remembered the stories his Dad and Mom told him of Old Simeon’s prophecy at his dedication in the Temple. He had always known he was born for this time. Passion and zeal for God’s Kingdom had grown strong in him in recent years! He remembered John’s words near the Jordan River, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” He thought of the baptism, the Holy Spirit descending on him, and the battle with Satan in the wilderness. He recommitted to the Father’s purpose, saying, “Father, your will be done!”
Then the boat reached the east shore of the lake. He saw the huge crowd who had rushed to the lakeshore from all the nearby towns and villages, and he was moved with compassion for them. As they crowded toward him, all thoughts of himself and his grief faded, and he began to move among them, touching them, smiling at the little children, healing all the sick. As he spoke life and health and hope to them, the joy rose within him and he thought, “I was born for this!”
Father, Thank you for John and Jesus and their commitment to your purpose and their love for those you love. Help me and my friends to be moved with compassion to do what we can do for those you love. For Jesus’ sake.