Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”Matthew 15:32 NIV
This passage clearly reflects Jesus’ compassion for people. He was in a remote place and, as usual, great crowds had gathered around him. While it is not explicitly stated, no doubt he was teaching the people. He was also healing many people of their physical ailments. I do not know if they had been three days without any food. Or after three days their food was long gone. Jesus demonstrated his compassion on the people, not only by healing them. But also by providing them with food to eat. And not just a little. They were all satisfied, with food left over.
Three Days with Jesus
But there is another side to this account that would be easy to overlook. This crowd had spent three days with Jesus. And had missed more than one meal. More than likely they had slept during the night. But three days, dawn to dusk. No meals were provided. No hotels. None of the amenities we have come to expect at a church retreat setting. And, after three days, Jesus had to send them away.
This makes me think seriously about my own time spent with Jesus, whether alone or with his church. I gather with God’s people to worship and hear the proclamation of his word. But after much more than an hour, I start to look at my watch, wondering how much longer this is going to last. In my own quiet time alone with him, how long is it before I am distracted by something else that I need to do. It is much less than three days. Granted, Jesus is not there in physical form, teaching me in person. And I am not caught up in the excitement of all the healing. But still, should I not be able to enjoy long periods of time with Jesus without worrying about much time I have spent? Or what else that I “need” to be doing?