The Light of Christ Journey

Encouraging people on their journey with Christ

The Compassion of Jesus — International Chapel of Vienna

In the story of the feeding of the 5000, Jesus saw the greatest need of the crowd and met it. This shows how Jesus is our good shepherd. The Shepherd sees the needs of His sheep long before the sheep do. The Shepherd looks after his sheep to make sure they are fed, watered, and cared for. While Jesus fed the crowd that had come to hear Him, what was their greatest need? Was it food or understanding who Jesus was through this great miracle?

John 6:1After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?”[1]

Jesus Still Sees Our Need

If Jesus saw their needs, He also sees our needs. Jesus sees our needs when our world is falling apart, when we are lonely and depressed, during a health problem, or when life is overwhelming. Jesus also may work out our problems in a different way than we expect.  He sees our needs differently than we do and often goes beyond meeting our needs.  In our story, the people ate their fill and still had food left over.

The Apostle Paul also experienced God meeting his needs but not always as he would have anticipated. Paul had experienced great need but could also understand that God was still caring for him. Phil. 4:12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little…19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. [2]

From a surface perspective this does not make sense, but let’s dig a little deeper. Paul wrote these words from a prison cell which was a place of great physical distress. We might think that God should have provided Paul some relief from his suffering. But instead, the Lord taught him contentment in this difficult situation. Although his physical discomfort remained, a greater need that God saw was for a changed heart.

Our Greatest Need is a Changed Heart

A change of heart toward ongoing suffering is a huge challenge for any of us. On our own, it’s impossible, but the Lord promises to strengthen us through Christ. By living in dependence and submission to Him, we gain His power to overcome our negative, sinful attitudes and learn contentment in all kinds of situations. This is what Paul was learning.

Our problem is not that the Lord won’t provide for us, but that we so often fail to understand what our deepest needs are. God sees from an unlimited perspective and works for our eternal good. Instead of pleading with God to take away your difficulty, ask Him for strength and a new perspective. Although He may not always deliver you from trials, you can count on Him to help you learn contentment, no matter what your external needs may be.

To hear more about how Jesus meets needs, listen here:

[1-2 Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

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