Monday, August 24, 2009


Mark 6:30-34

Earlier in this chapter we saw Jesus sending his disciples out, two by two, on ministry trips. They went from town to town preaching repentance, casting out demons, and healing the sick. Now they have returned. Mark tells us they gathered around Jesus and reported to him on the things they had done on their missions. But a problem arose. While Jesus was listening to the disciples and ministering to them they were constantly being interrupted by many people who were coming and going and seeking time with Jesus. Things were so busy that the disciples didn’t even have a chance to get something to eat. They were completely worn out and exhausted and Jesus could see that. Instead of neglecting their needs in order to minister to others, Jesus invited them to go on vacation with him. They needed rest and Jesus wanted to make sure they got it. They couldn’t rest in Capernaum because there were just too many people around who wanted and needed their ministry. So Jesus asked them to go camping with him in the wilderness where they would be away from the crowds. They got into their boat and began sailing north along the coast of the Sea of Galilee toward Bethsaida (Luke 9). There they would be able to relax, recuperate, and recreate. They could just rest and have some fun!

Jesus and the disciples sailed north along the coastline of the Sea of Galilee toward Bethsaida. There was a completely unpopulated area near where the Jordan flows into the sea. It is only about three or four miles from Capernaum. As they sailed, many on shore recognized their boat or their sail and began to run along the shoreline. Word began to spread among all the towns and villages that Jesus and his disciples were coming. Before Jesus even came ashore there was a very large crowd waiting there for him. He was trying to get away with his men for a break from ministry. He wanted time to minister to them and allow them to rest and recuperate from their labors. What did Jesus do? Did he tell the people to go away because he and his men were on vacation? Did he get upset with the people and ask them why they can’t just leave them alone once in awhile? No. When Jesus saw the crowds waiting on shore for him he was deeply moved. The Greek word describes a “pit of the stomach,” heartfelt, tender, loving emotion. And why did Jesus feel this way when he saw the people waiting? Because they were like sheep without a shepherd! If sheep lose their shepherd they are completely defenseless. Sheep have no way of defending themselves against predators. Without their shepherd they will become hopelessly lost. They will just mill around and around and wander off. They have no sense of direction and cannot find their way home. They will eventually starve to death. Sheep cannot provide for themselves. If they do not have a shepherd they are condemned to death. So Jesus, seeing their condition, felt deep compassion for them and began to teach them many things for a long time.

Here is what we can learn from Jesus’ care for the crowds. The church is the body of Christ. He is no longer physically present on earth so we are charged to carry on his ministry, to do the things he would be doing if he were here. So we minister to people like he did. We show them his tender, heartfelt love and compassion. When we see people hurting, we hurt along with them. How do we see all the people around us? Do we care about them? Are we concerned with their problems and struggles? Do we look at them like people who are in need of a caring shepherd? How do we look at them and feel about them? If it is in any other way than with deep compassion because they are like lost sheep, then we don’t have the heart of Jesus!

What is the best way to show the love of Jesus to them? In this passage, Jesus shows us two ways: teach them the truth and minister to their needs. This is what Jesus did. The best way to love them is not to entertain them. The best way to love them is not to provide a bunch of programs for them to attend. The best way to love the people around us is to build relationships with them. We can only help them as Jesus would if we can get close enough to them to gain their trust. We need to grow close to them so we can understand their troubles and stand beside them as they face them. This is what Jesus did. He also taught them the truth. The best thing we can give to a person is the truth. Tell them about God and his Son and their love. Share the good news of Christ’s gospel with them. But we can’t tell them the truth until we have built a relationship with them!


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