"Jesus' Compassion for the People"- Matthew 15:29-39

“Jesus’ Compassion For The People”

Sunday December 23, 2018

Matthew 15:29-39

Today’s Competency: What I Believe

Humanity - I believe all people are loved by God and need Jesus Christ as their Savior. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

"I believe that all people are loved by God and need Jesus Christ as their Savior." This profound statement raises a simple question. Why? Why do all people need Jesus Christ as their Savior?

The answer is because we're all born with a terminal illness called sin. At the house of Matthew, then a tax collector called Levi, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mk 2:17; cf. Lk 5:32), and on another occasion at the home of a publican he said, "the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Tragically most of sin's victims are in denial. We do not like to think of ourselves as sinners, and while none of us are as bad as we could be, we are sinners by nature. So none of us are perfect.

    Scripture: Scripture: Matthew 15:29-39 29 Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. 30 And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, 31 so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel. 32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” 33 And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” 34 And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” 35 And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, 36 he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 37 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 38 Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.

The Message of this Passage: Jesus may have spent several weeks in Tyre and Sidon, giving Jesus time with His disciples. From there He returned to the region of Galilee, as reported by Mark (7:31–8:9). Earlier we had the sermon on the Mount, and now we have the healing on the Mount. Jesus’ words are matched by His actions throughout His ministry. His actions demonstrate His words and His words interpret His actions. And yet, acts of compassion need few words. When Jesus sat down that was a symbol of an official act of ministry. Matthew makes a point of the people coming to Him, of their bringing the sick, lame, and blind and placing them at His feet.There is no other answer for our problems than to place them at the feet of Jesus.

Then we have a second feeding of the multitudes. Once again we have the disciples asking where they could find bread in the wilderness for such a crowd. And again Jesus asked what they had, and their reply was seven loaves, and two fish. But Jesus acted decisively, for His compassion was great and once again Jesus is not accustomed to leaving people with needs unmet, so he fed them with those seven loaves and two fish.  

Even though there are some similarities in the feeding of the 5000 there are also clear differences in the two events, one key difference is that the five thousand were clearly Jews because the group followed Jesus from Nazareth and other surrounding towns. On the other hand, the four thousand were probably Gentiles. Commentators say this because Jesus healed many of the four thousand who then “glorified the God of Israel”.  This expression would be far more common for a gentile to use than a Jew. More importantly, Mark locates the events of today’s passage in the Decapolis (7:31–8:10), a region of ten predominantly Gentile cities east of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus’ ministry in this area reveals that the kingdom is for Jew and Gentile alike. Christ’s work here shows that His blessing is for the nations, which may explain why His Jewish disciples had trouble conceiving that Jesus would feed unclean Gentiles.

Matthew Henry writes: “Forgetting former experiences leaves us under present doubts.” We are quick to forget all that God has done for us in the past and grow impatient when He does not act in the manner that we desire in the present. We sometimes then doubt His love for us even though He has shown Himself good and true in our past. If you are having trouble trusting the Lord this day, remember a time in the past in which He provided for you. M.S Augsburger, commentary on Matthew (Vol. 24, p. 18).

Answering Interpretive Questions:

  • What do you see in this story that is shocking or a surprise to you?

  • Reflect on the feeding of the four thousand and what it reveals about God’s plans for His people and the world.

  • In Matthew 15:30, where are all those who need Jesus’ healing touch placed? Why is this a significant place to go when we or others in our lives need healing from Jesus? (See Mark 7:25; Luke 7:38; 8:41; 10:39)

  • What two things do the multitudes do when they see the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing?

  • What dilemma did the disciple face (v. 33)? How would you respond to the disciples? How does Jesus respond?

  • Describe how the people responded to the miracles they saw? Contrast this with the way many of the Jews responded when they saw similar miracles.

  • Have you ever seen a blind person receive sight? Have you ever seen a mute person speak? Have you ever seen a crippled person stand up and walk? Let’s not minimize what impact these miracles would have had for not only the infirmed but the caretakers who brought them to Jesus!

  • How do the disciples respond to Jesus’ thoughts about feeding the people? Why do you think they show such little faith in Jesus to provide for the people’s needs miraculously?

The world sees committed Christians and churches, but very little activity that can only be explained in terms of God.


Grant SchweisthalMatthew