When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6, verse 34
Remember the context of what’s happened. Jesus has been on the move and so have His disciples. He healed a sick girl, then went home where He was rejected by the townspeople whom he had once called “family.” He then sends His disciples out to perform ministry while He continued teaching. While they’re apart, we learn that John the Baptist – Jesus’ cousin and most public prophet – has been murdered. Now the apostles are back and are exhausted. Jesus takes them to a solitary place, away from the crowds, so they can all catch their breath. Yet the crowds follow. Remember: sometimes you can’t get enough of a good thing.
And you know how it is with crowds. They’re needy, pressing, loud, lost, wandering, pensive, impatient, and can be tough to deal with. This crowd, they were hungry for both food and soul-food. They needed a meal (and would soon get one; a meal to remember in fact) and they needed to heal. More than the food for the body, the crowd following Jesus desired food for the soul. They wanted more of what the Man from Nazareth was giving them.
What does Jesus do? Exhausted, spent, overwhelmed, tired Jesus looks at them and gets that winsome look in His eye. He then starts speaking to them, “teaching them many things.” From Mark’s Gospel, we don’t know exactly what He taught them. It’s likely He taught them parables. And Matthew says that He ‘healed their sick.’ When the crowd desired more of what Jesus offered, He gave it without hesitation or self-focus.
There are so many things to glean from just this one verse. Have compassion even when you’re at wit’s end. When you’re at wit’s end, dig deeper. When you dig deeper, bring out your best. And when you bring out your best, bring it out for everyone and not just those closest to you.
Me, I’m stuck in amazement on the point of how, when Jesus and His disciples were exhausted, they kept on giving. Last weekend, my wife and I raked about ½ acre of leaves. The courtyard in front of our new house was covered in leaves, so we spent 10 hours raking them up, moving them across the driveway, and then burning them. At the end of the day, we were spent. All we wanted to do was rest, so we did. Yet that’s not what Jesus did. When the world told Him “you’re tired. Take five,” He looked at a group of total strangers and helped them.
Can we do that? Sure we can. Even when we’ve raked leaves all day. I’ll be honest: at the end of that day I was dog-tired, but if someone actually needed something from me, like you, I probably would have tried to summon the energy to give it. Tell me: have you ever stopped to help someone change a tire? Or helped a friend move after working all day the day before? Ever read “just one more” story to your kids (after finishing two already)? And have you ever stayed up for hours, listening to someone who just needed to get something off their chest?
Can we have compassion on others when we feel like we have nothing left to give? You bet we can. And it makes Jesus smile.
Lord, help me to have compassion for others.
Read Mark 6, verses 30-44.