The story in Matthew 15:29-39 is a familiar story to those familiar with the Bible. The passage is most well known for the miracle Jesus performs when he feeds the large crowd. When I read it recently, it wasn’t the miracle that resonated with me. It was a simple phrase from The Message paraphrase:
“…He called his disciples and said, ‘I hurt for these people.'” (vs. 32)
In other translations it says Jesus had “compassion” for them – the same compassion Jesus demonstrates in Matthew 9:36 when “his heart broke” as he looked out over the suffering crowds.
I love that our Savior hurts for us; that our Lord is moved to compassion by our sufferings. The Gospel writer Matthew did too, apparently, because he uses the corresponding Greek verb more often than any other Gospel writer. Jesus was the perfect expression of a God who is filled with compassion for His children. What a perfect Father for a ragtag group of broken people who are struggling on the Jesus way.
Sometimes we are in such a hurry for a miracle or fix that we miss the goodness that comes from the struggle. We miss the goodness that comes from embracing that which throws us into the embrace of a God who hurts for us. We miss the goodness that comes from trusting that our God gets it and sits with us in those moments when we feel the most alone.
To me, the overwhelming goodness of Easter is not that God saves us. It is that our compassionate God loves us enough to redeem us.
*Reprinted from my devotion for our church’s 2014 Lenten devotional guide.