Today's verses are Mark 8:1-3: "In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, 'I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat.  And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way.  And some of them have come from far away.'" Most likely, Jesus is still in Gentile territory.  A great crowd is following him again as he teaches.  For three days they listen to him teach.  This must not have been unusual at all. After the third day, he has compassion on the crowd.  They are growing increasingly hungry.  Jesus knows if he sends them back home without food, they most certainly become weaker on the journey home, some undoubtedly fainting because some were far from home.

This is the setting for the second miraculous feeding of the masses.  It will introduce Jesus as the bread of life, this time to Gentiles.  Bottom line: Jesus is God's bread of life for all people, Jew and Gentile alike.

This amazing miracle though begins with three simple words: "I have compassion..."  Jesus looked at the crowds and each individual in the crowd and said, "I have compassion."  He does.  He looks at all our situations and weaknesses, our frailties and difficulties and has compassion.  He looks at what a sin-filled world has done to us, scarring our lives and hurting our bodies and has compassion.

Jesus' compassion over our situations is what caused him to leave the splendor of heaven and enter the squalor of this earth.  Jesus' compassion on us is what made him vulnerable as a baby in a manger and die on a cross.  If you ever doubt the compassion of Jesus, remember the stable and the cross.

"I have compassion," Jesus said to his disciples then and to us now.

If you know Jesus' compassion, please pray this prayer with me today, "Thank you, Jesus, for your compassion.  Thank you for knowing my hurts and heartaches.  Thank you for loving me more than I could ever love myself.  Thank you for feeling the depth of my pain that you'd come to this earth and save me from my sin. Thank you for your compassion.  Without it, I'd still be wandering hopelessly and aimlessly in life.

To you, almighty Jesus, alone and always belongs all the glory.  It's in your name I pray. Amen."