“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.” — Mark Twain
Not Bothered About Being Bothered
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:14
Here’s the scene. Jesus has just heard that Herod, in a warped sense of duty, has presented the recently severed head of John the Baptist as a birthday present to his stepdaughter, who is also his niece, because his new wife, his brother’s ex, didn’t like John. Yes, it’s complicated. Anyway, upon hearing the news, Jesus took a boat to what He hoped would be a solitary place. However, His hoped-for solitary place was now full of people and, having compassion on them, He healed their sick. Furthermore, if you keep reading, He also performed the miracle we call “Feeding the Five Thousand.”
Okay, here’s that part that bothers me: Jesus wasn’t bothered about being bothered.
Maybe it’s just me, but I know if I had recently found out that a drunken, immoral, quasi-religious dictator had beheaded my cousin, I would want to go away and find a quiet, solitary place to pray and cry and shout out my pain to God. And once getting there, the last thing I’d want to do is minister to a bunch of people who are more interested in themselves than in my pain.
But Jesus doesn’t do that. Instead, He has compassion on them.
This reminds of the numerous times I’ve seen people working on their car by the side of the road. And instead of helping them, I’ve rationalized (a compound of two words, rational and lies…) how I probably don’t know how to fix their problem, or I need to get to work or an appointment or church and I don’t have time to stop and give them a hand. Hmmm, do I see in myself shades of the religious hypocrites in the Parable of the Good Samaritan?
(NOTE: I had to stop writing at this point and go to work. On my way, I saw a man working on his car at the side of the road. I immediately thought about this article, considered that I needed to get to work, and drove by. I failed my first test of the day at being bothered. . . . . . . . AUGGGHHHHHH!!!).
However, I also find myself getting impatient with people who interrupt my current agenda, be it writing, helping somebody at my job, or meeting the needs of a customer. I truly desire to live such that no one will see my impatience, anger, or easily bothered attitude. This is why Jesus challenges me so much. Of course, Scripture is rather silent on the ways Jesus might have shown impatience with people. And even though He says things like, “O you of little faith” (Matthew 8:26; 14:31), I don’t think He was showing exasperation as much as He was desirous of His disciples being able to grasp His main message.
And me? Have I grasped the main message of Jesus? Not completely, and you can tell this by the way I live, or don’t live, His most basic teachings. But that’s really not my point. My point is that the ease with which Jesus moved from pain to compassion reminds me of how far I’ve yet to go to obtain Christlikeness in all my ways. The good news is I’m a lot better at it than I used to be, as any of my long-lasting friends can testify.
So here is my challenge. The next time someone interrupts my agenda, needs my presence, requires my compassion, or (take a deep breath) is broken down by the side of the road, I hope to show the same love and compassion for the person in need as Jesus has shown to me.
Originally posted Nov. ’08.