“When Jesus…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 6:34, NIV)
Outside of Jesus’ resurrection, the only miracle recorded in all four Gospel accounts is Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000. And of those accounts, only Mark tells us Jesus’ motivation for the miracle: Jesus’ compassion for the crowds.
It doesn’t happen every week, but it happens more often than you might think: Someone comes up to me after church and says something like: “You were reading my mail today” or “you were really talking to me today, Preacher.” There have been times when a few of these folks were angry that I would dare preach a sermon about them!
I wasn’t “preaching about them,” but that’s the thing with the Bible – when you read it, you meet yourself right there in its pages. The people out there clamoring that the Bible is irrelevant to modern life have never really read it. Sure the characters and the cultures are ancient, but they are much more like today – and us! – than we sometimes care to admit.
The crowd, for instance, is a perfect picture of us: sheep without a shepherd. We are hungry – but not just for food. We are searching for meaning and purpose in life. Isaiah asks: “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isaiah 55:2, NIV).
We thirst and can’t find satisfaction. We’re lost with no direction. We tend to be spiritually blind. And Jesus responds…because he is full of compassion.
Jesus leads these “sheep” to food. He says: “I am the bread of life (John 6:35).” He leads them to water: “but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst… (John 4:14).” He leads them to safe pasture: “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Take a minute to read Psalm 23 this week. Whether you are a Christian or not, it is worth your time. It’s beautiful poetry. But picture the metaphor. You and I are the sheep. And when you read “The Lord is my shepherd…” put a face with the name. Imagine Jesus leading us.
He’s the Shepherd of our souls (1 Peter 2:25), he’s a shepherd after God’s heart (Jer. 3:15), he’s the good shepherd (John 10:11), and even the great shepherd (Heb. 13:20).
If you’re hungry, thirsty, or needing direction in life, Jesus responds…because he is full of compassion.
See you in church!
Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Visit New Life’s website: www.NewLifeDenton.org for more information.