I am unwilling

I recently looked up all the times when Jesus started a sentence with “I am”. There are of course a lot of famous ones, but a large number of less well known instances too.

One that grabbed my attention was in Matthew 15:32, at the feeding of the 4000:

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”

Above and beyond the implications for that crowd’s physical hunger on that particular day, the phrase “I am unwilling to send them away hungry” speaks of Jesus’ ongoing heart towards any who come to him aware of a profound spiritual hunger in their lives. He is unwilling to send them away hungry too. As he said after a similar miracle feeding the 5000, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35). This should give us confidence as we approach him in prayer, hungry for more of him in our lives. He wants to satisfy that hunger as we spiritually feed on him.

Hungry I come to you, for I know you satisfy
I am empty, but I know your love does not run dry

But as well as speaking to me of Jesus’ openhanded attitude to all who come to him, it also challenged me about my own life as a follower of Jesus. Do I send people away hungry?

This could be answered at all sorts of levels – spiritual, emotional, physical. We of course are called literally to feed the hungry (e.g. Isa 58:7,10; Matt 25:41-43; James 2:15,16). Are their people in our church’s hungry for friendship, help and encouragement that we could help and yet we don’t make time for? And spiritually speaking, do we have unsaved friends who are hungry for something more in their lives, yet our cowardice prevents us from offering them the bread of life? Let us learn to have the same heart of compassion for needy people that Jesus did, and be unwilling ourselves to send anyone away hungry.

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