Text: Jas 4:17
A. Lack of empathy.
The apostles were insensitive to the needs of the multitude because they considered their needs above others’ needs. a. They were tired and hungry (Mar 6:30-31). Sometimes we rationalize away our responsibility to help, thinking that we are in a worse situation than others (2Co 8:1-3). b. They showed concern for the multitude but did not care enough to provide for them (Mar 6:36). Sometimes we want to help, but only if it does not inconvenience us (1Jo 3:17-18).
However, our Lord empathized with others. a. He received them, taught them and healed them (Luk 9:11). b. He made His apostles realize that they had a responsibility to take care of the needs of others too (Mar 6:37).
Our Lord empathized with others because he had compassion towards them (Mar 6:34); we too need to empathize with others by having compassion towards them (1Pe 3:8).
B. Lack of ability.
The apostles did not respond to the needs of the multitude because they considered their constraints above their blessings. a. They thought of the 200 denarii that they did not have (Joh 6:7), instead of the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes they had (Joh 6:9). Sometimes we rationalize away our responsibility to help, thinking that we do not have the means (Pro 11:24-25). b. They thought that they did not have enough but they had more than enough (Joh 6:13). Sometimes we want to help, but only if we have more (2Co 9:8).
However, our Lord worked with what was available. a. He wanted His disciples to give of what they had (Mat 14:17-18). b. The young boy was willing to trust Jesus in giving up his food (Joh 6:9).
Our Lord worked with what was available and provided whatever else was needed (Joh 6:6); we too need to give of our ability by trusting in God to provide (2Co 8:12).
C. Lack of sympathy
The apostles might be unwilling to attend to the needs of the multitude because they considered them undeserving. a. The multitude had sought Jesus not because of their interest in spiritual matters, but for physical nourishment (Joh 6:26). Sometimes we rationalize away our responsibility to help, thinking that others are undeserving (Act 9:13-16). b. The multitude even wanted to make Jesus king by force (Joh 6:15). Sometimes we want to help, but only if we get something out of it (Luk 14:12-14).
However, our Lord sympathized with others. a. He knew that some of His disciples’ hearts were hardened (Mar 6:52) and some were unbelieving (Joh 6:64). b. Yet, He never gave up on them (Mar 16:14-16).
Our Lord sympathized with others because He loved them (Joh 13:1); we too need to sympathize with others by loving them (1Pe 2:17).