The Bread of Life -- By Jacqui Julyan

"The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning...." (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Reading the Book of Luke my attention was drawn to the account where Jesus met the widow who had just lost her son: "And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her 'weep not'" (Luke 7:11-17) It was the word compassion that really struck me. Jesus had compassion on this woman. She was now faced with yet another great loss; her son. Her grief must have been more than she could bear. Jesus is always in places where compassion is needed.

Compassion is described in the dictionary as sympathy, humanity, kindness, mercy, pity, sorrow tenderness and understanding. Here we see Jesus' humanity displaying compassion. Here we see the heart of Jesus at work, not just for mere show, even though he was surrounded by his disciples and multitudes of people. Jesus had genuine compassion upon the widow's great loss not only because she had lost her husband, because He would have known, but now her only son. Jesus spoke to her 'weep not'.

Oh the sweet joy when Jesus speaks to our heartfelt needs for they are healing in themselves and personal too! How often do you when you see someone distressed say 'don't cry, please don't cry'. It is a humane genuine heartfelt reaction of love. For yes those with love in their hearts it is natural as breathing to provide comforting words and actions.

Jesus in all His glory had compassion. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life and raised this woman's son, her only son back to life. The people were amazed, mainly exclaiming 'Who is this man that he can even raise people from the dead?' Many today are only interested in the spectacular miracles that Jesus can perform and yes indeed He can perform them, but His heart is love and Jesus did not separate the two.

They went and should go hand in hand. Yes the greatest gift of all is Love. God is Love. But what is also equally important is the way is which Jesus teaches us about demonstrating compassion. God is full of compassion and mercy. Compassion also means humane so here we see the humanity of God in Jesus, the Son of God.

As I was walking the dog one evening I was drawn to go down to the beach. I do not do this often in the summer as it is normally so very busy with holiday makers but for some unknown reason felt led to go, much to the delight of my dog. Oh how she likes to run through the waves it brings joy and laughter and mends my crushed sprit.

It was getting quite dark by now and I happened to bump into a family who were down on a holiday break for a couple of weeks. As I got chatting to this lady, (having a dog is a great ice breaker especially if they love animals!), it turned out her husband and son had just been made redundant and they had also just lost their dog. My heart went out to her. I listened to all that was going on in their lives, their anxieties and loss of their dog.

It also turned out that her job was that of a Carer. She takes meals around to elderly ladies, probably widows, who cannot get out. She was saying as part of their job description they are now not allowed to stop and chat.

I was shocked!

She told me on one particular occasion she broke this rule so moved with compassion for one particular elderly lady she visited. She stopped to keep her company, have a cup of tea and chat. She knew the loneliness of this lady and cared enough to know that she so needed someone just to be with her.

It turned out she went to church and a natural opening of conversation was shared between us of my faith and love in Jesus. The words from the Holy Spirit came to my mind just at that time and I spoke them to her about how in the last days the love of most will become cold.

Yes a basic human natural concern of compassion is being driven out by the very professions that should provide not just food but love and care; for this is food in itself. It brings fresh understanding to Jesus' words 'I am the Bread of Life'. The feeding of our souls. For the human spirit can endure a sick body but who can bear a crushed spirit. Jesus is the Bread of Life and we too are also, if we belong to Him, are to give His Bread out to whom He sends us to.

Jesus warns the church through the Book of Revelation about the results of becoming indifferent, tepid and half-hearted. "I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16). Let us as Christians be the hands and mouthpieces of Jesus Christ loving our neighbours as ourselves. Yes having entertained strangers could well have been angels themselves.

Sometimes it can just be a smile, sometimes a sharing of our faith, listening for He knows our limits and we all have different gifts but it is the same Holy Spirit; it brings joy and healing to our hearts too. One of the attributes of the Holy Spirit is kindness and goodness; let us shine like beacons in this dark world. We may be the only light this person sees that day, or month or even year.

Yes let us carry the Light of Jesus Christ. Let us not hide our Light for Jesus under a bush or away in a cupboard where no man can see it. Giving just a cup of cold is giving the River of Life of Jesus and those that give it will certainly not lose their reward.

Jacqui Julyan