“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”

Mark 6:34

Every once in a while, mostly during the summer, I ride the Triangle Transit bus to and from Raleigh–departing from the Research Triangle Park transit center. As a student at North Carolina State University, riding the TTA bus is free (at least to me–not the university) as long as I acquire a pass from the transportation office on campus. Normally I would get dropped off and I would walk to the nearest bus stop and from there figure out how to make my way to Raleigh that day. The purpose of most of my trips last summer was going to the gym on campus. Being a full-time student during the fall and spring semester, I was able to get a really cheap membership at the university gym ($60 for the whole summer!) and I was trying really hard to get in shape for physicaly training, the next semester, with the ROTC program at State.

One morning, me being ready for another workout-packed morning at the gym, as I was sitting down near the back of the bus, I saw a middle-age lady walk in with a backpack which seemed way to heavy her. I looked into her face and eyes. Without realizing my mind took a picture of her expression and somehow, somehow I felt as if something had suddenly given me a insight into her life. I felt a sort of goosebump running down my back and then…then I felt moved to compassion.

While still staring at her expression from far, without being noticed or rude of course, I began to feel sadness, pain, suffering, struggle, tireless effort, and perseverance emitting from her. And perseverance not in the sense of walking toward greater righteousness, but in the sense of someone who had been working her whole life and yet, because of circumstances, here she was, another morning, heading towards another day of endless labor just to keep on living. I felt an intense feeling to weep–even as I type now into this blog my heart is shaken again.

I have never been a naturally humble or compassionate person and I honestly think that if there are people out there like that, then they have been able to develop that through perseverance and divine intervention, but no one is born humble. From the early stages of our childhood we show signs of selfishness, we begin to be physically rough, we start lying, etc. So not only is compassion and selflessness a state of being unnatural to the human existence, it can be argued it is actually irrational. However, I’ll leave that discussion to those who have nothing else to do with their precious mornings besides philosophize. I’ll leave it at this: I am not naturally nice, humble, compassionate, and caring. To be honest, I am actually pretty judgmental, critical, I hate making mistakes, and love to feel “all high and mighty.” With that in mind, the sudden overwhelming sensation of compassion and love for that woman and fellow human being that I felt that morning could only be described as supernatural.

Being the world’s top expert on me, I have always known and being aware of my personality flaws, especially that of being too quick to judge others. Walking around town and campus, the first thought to mind I’ll get if I see a skater will be: “loser.” I know. It’s terrible. But yet, it’s my weakness and flaw. Another example: the first thought to come to mind if I see a guy wearing capri pants, which they shouldn’t wear–please people, isn’t there anything else European that we can borrow?– is that the guy has male identity issues. So once again, compassion and moved to almost tears isn’t a naturally occurring thought of mine.

My discernment of it all comes from Mark 6 when Jesus, having just landed from a bit of a long trip across a really big lake, looks at the crowds, the multitudes of people, He looks at the masses…and He feels compassion for them. And why does He feel compassion for them? Because they are like sheep without a shepherd, like children without a father, people lost in a world which, in many ways, is out to get them. Jesus looked at the crowds and was moved. In response to being moved Jesus begins to teach them the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Another example of Christ being moved is found in Matthew 14:13-14 : “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” A few verses later Matthew tells us that Jesus fed the 5,000 plus people present there. Later, in Matthew 15, Jesus is once again moved to compassion and tells His disciples, to feed 4,000 more men, besides women and children–take that UN emergency response programs.

So what’s the point? How does my experience of being moved to tears relate to Jesus feeling compassion for the crowds and what’s the point of it all?

When we look at Christ and His response to the crowds, Scripture tells us that He (1) taught them many things, (2) fed them, (3) heal their sick. As a Christian, I believe, that when God impacted that morning on the bus, He was trying to tell me something. God was saying: “You take a quick look at people and you see their flaws and their darkness. My Only Begotten Son, Jesus, looked at them, was moved to compassion, and radically impacted their lives. What will you do? You choose.”

The good news of the Kingdom of Heaven is not limited to a message of social justice or to a message that is simply preached from a pulpit on certain mornings. Through Christ, we see a radical message of Kingdom-centered teaching, saving souls for God, and of world-impacting actions, like feeding the hungry and healing the sick. God challenges us to rise to the challenge and achieve the objective we are called to. This I believe.

I know I’m not perfect and that I will continue making mistakes throughout my life, faithfully growing in my faith and in the extent I represent Jesus through me. However, let us remember Jesus in one of His experiences with a leper:

“A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’

Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!'”

Mark 1: 40-42

The Kingdom and Gospel-centered impact we are called to requires an inner desire for it to come to be. Of course, maybe in our sin, we have fallen away from focus–but God is here to remedy that for us and set us in the right trajectory. We don’t need to be perfect to be active Citizens of the Kingdom; we just need to be willing. As for me, my daily prayer is that I may be moved to compassion each day so that I may love as Jesus loved.

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