“He Has Compassion” (Matthew 14: 14, ESV) by Carley Evans

“When He comes ashore He sees a great crowd, and He has compassion on them and heals their sick.” (Matthew 14: 14)

He has withdrawn “to a place by Himself. But when the crowds hear it, they follow Him on foot from the towns.” (Matthew 14: 13)

Jesus is trying to find a desolate place to pray. When the crowds come from several towns, He abandons His original plan, turns back to heal the sick among them.

His disciples find Him at the end of the day, and ask Him to send the crowds away. The disciples think the people should go buy their own food in the nearby villages. But Jesus tells them to feed the crowd. The disciples are dumbfounded. They’ve only five loaves of bread and two fish.

Jesus has compassion on the great crowd; this time He feeds them.

So, on this single day, Jesus heals the sick among the crowd and feeds the people. “And they all ate and were satisfied.” (Matthew 14: 20)

Jesus does not heal this one but not that one; He does not feed this one and leave that one hungry. He heals every one of the crowd who is sick, and He feeds to satisfaction all the people gathered who are hungry.

The crowd follows in expectation. They hear of Jesus, and they want to find Him.

Jesus is aware of their needs. He is compassionate. He heals. He satisfies.

“Hold Fast To God” (Deuteronomy 13: 4, ESV) by Carley Evans

“You shall walk after the Lord your God.”

Jesus says, “Follow Me” to His disciples. He says to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9: 2) Some of the scribes accuse Jesus of blasphemy. So Jesus asks, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?” Then he turns to the paralyzed man, saying: “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” (Matthew 9: 4, 6)

Jesus challenges us: “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven, or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?”

“You shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.”

Jesus says, “No one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins — and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.” (Mark 2: 22)

Jesus makes us new creations and fills us with His Holy Spirit.

Jesus says, “There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” (Mark 7: 14 – 15)

“Fear Him and keep His commandments and obey His voice.”

Paul writes for us to present ourselves to God as “slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.” (Romans 6: 19) We are “set free from sin.” (Romans 6: 22) “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6: 23)

Don’t walk in front of God. Step in behind Him, following in His footsteps — one at a time. Walk after Him, fear Him, serve him, obey His voice. Hold fast to God.

“While He May Be Found” (Isaiah 55: 6, ESV) by Carley Evans

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.”

Jesus walks along the Sea of Galilee and sees two brothers, Peter and Andrew casting a net into the water in order to make their living as they are fishermen. Jesus says to them, “Follow Me.” (Matthew 4: 19) “Immediately they leave their nets and follow Him.” (Matthew 4: 20)

Jesus walks on, and sees two more brothers — James and John. They are mending their nets with their father. Jesus calls them. “Immediately they leave the boat and their father and follow Him.” (Matthew 4: 22)

Jesus sees a tax collector, Levi sitting at the tax booth. He says to him, ” ‘Follow Me.’ And leaving everything, he rises and follows Him.” (Luke 5: 27 – 28)

Jesus is right there, tangible. Each of these men has the opportunity to literally drop everything and follow Jesus when He calls them to do so. It is today. Tomorrow, Jesus may not pass by. He may not see them as they cast or mend nets or levy taxes.

“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrew 3: 7 – 8) “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3: 13)

Each of these men — Peter, Andrew, James, John, or Matthew — may not respond to Jesus’ call to “follow Me.” Instead, each may remain focused on the task before him: catching fish so as to provide sustenance, mending nets so as to meet family obligations, collecting taxes so as to support the local government and maintain society at large. Each of these men can look up at Jesus and say, “Not now. Tomorrow. Let me finish this. This is important. It’s irresponsible for me to just get up and leave this now. I’ll follow You tomorrow.”

Each may harden his heart through the deceitfulness of sin — sin is deceptive, often shaping itself as something noble, good, important, necessary.

Let us exhort one another to “hold our original confidence firm to the end.” (Hebrews 3: 14) Let’s respond to Jesus when He calls — today.