Do you remember the last time you went to Disneyland or were stuck in a traffic jam? I’m sure the last thing you had hoped for in that moment was to run into that sea of endless humanity. How did it make you feel? I know when I find myself in that kind of situation I certainly struggle against my natural “fleshly” tendencies to see all those nameless masses in a negative light. Most people would probably see that ocean of strangers as a major inconvenience, perhaps even an obstacle to overcome.
But that’s not how Jesus sees people! In the book of Matthew, he records a scene where Jesus, after hearing about the murder of his cousin, John the Baptist, leaves for a time to be by Himself. I imagine He was saddened by John’s death and wanted to be alone to spend time in prayer and reflection. However, the crowds followed Him (we later learn the crowd was numbered at 5,000 men, not including the women and children).
Imagine yourself in those shoes. You just lost a member of your family and when you try to get away for some private time, thousands of strangers follow you instead! How would you react in such a scenario? Probably not the way Jesus did! I am always amazed when I read about Jesus’ response in Matthew 14:14—“And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them.”
Instead of being frustrated and irritated that they weren’t giving Him some privacy, Jesus instead had compassion on that enormous crowd! This both blesses me and convicts me because—I’m going to be honest with you guys—when there are crowds of strangers around me, and that crowd is preventing me from accomplishing a goal or task, I have a tendency to turn into not a very nice person. I’m not proud of it; I’m just being real! Unlike the ball of imperfection that is me, Jesus loved each and every single individual human being in that crowd (just as He still does today, with nearly 8 billion people on this planet).
That kind of love does not come naturally to any of us. So how do we get this kind of love? If you need replacement parts for your vehicle, you go to an auto parts shop. If you need groceries, you go to the supermarket. If you need tools, you go to the hardware store. Likewise, if we want to grow in our ability to love, we should go to the source of love, which, of course, is God.
Galatians 5:22 says that “the fruit of the Spirit is love.” The kind of undeserved love that Christ has for us, and that we are to have for others, is not natural; it is supernatural and therefore, can only come from God, but it is ours for the asking…if we want it.