““I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat.” (Mark 8:2, ESV)
The difference between Jesus and the Pharisees was Jesus’ compassion for those whom he came to serve. He recognized the need of the crowd without the crowd telling him that they were hungry and the reason he noticed was because he loved them. Bob Utley comments:
This term “compassion” comes from the Greek term for inward lower organs of the body. In the OT the Jews assigned the seat of the emotions to the lower viscera.
Jesus loves people (cf. 1:41; 6:34; 8:2; 9:22; Matt. 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 18:27; 20:34; Luke 7:13; 10:33). These people had been rejected by rabbis all their lives. They swarmed to Jesus’ care.
When we minister to people we need to love them, whether we are serving them, trying to help them meet their needs, or even teaching them. I was listening to an interview of Jen Wilkins yesterday and one of the interesting comments she made was that it took her a long time when she first started teaching Bible studies to understand that she couldn’t separate the people she was teaching from the teaching that she was doing. They had needs, desires, hurts, difficulties, and she needed to understand them in order to teach them well. This is what Jesus does here. He understands the people whom he is teaching. He loves them. He cares for their needs.
This is our God.