I hate large crowds.
Yup, I know that is pretty ironic since I am a pastor. I actually do not mind being up front speaking to a large crowd but I hate being in the middle of a bunch of people. What I REALLY hate is if there is a large crowd of people and they are all trying to get my attention. If there are more than a few people talking to me at once, I am bound to shut everyone out.
Thankfully, Jesus is not like me.
In Mark 6, Jesus’ spirit is crushed as he hears about John the Baptist being beheaded. In the same scene, his disciples return to him after a long, grueling day of ministry. In wisdom, Jesus instructs his disciples to go with him to a solitary place in order to find rest. Unfortunately, the crowd has keen eyesight and interrupts Jesus and his disciples while they are trying to rest and mourn in peace.
How would you respond?
I would be angry, impatient, frustrated, and overall disgusted by the crowd.
Let’s see how Jesus responds:
“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 6:34
- SAW the crowd.
- Had COMPASSION on the crowd.
- And PROVIDED for the crowd.
I want to encourage you to view yourself in light of Jesus’ actions and allow the Holy Spirit to change you in the following three areas:
1. Slow down so you can truly see people.
Often, when I am interrupted by someone, I try to brush them off as quickly as possible. Instead of looking at the person as an image bearer of God, I see them as an annoying distraction. If the person is “needy” then I definitely try to steer clear of being in a conversation with them because I feel as if they will capitalize on my time.
Not so with Jesus.
In the midst of his grieving, Jesus SEES the crowd. He puts himself in their position and realizes they are like “sheep without a shepherd”. His intense love for people – ALL people – motivates him to see the crowd with love.
2. Seeing should become compassion.
It is one thing to slow down long enough to see people as beautiful image bearers – It’s another challenge to have compassion on them. Compassion is defined as, “concern for the sufferings of others.” All of us would claim we are compassionate people. Unfortunately, our actions betray our speech.
Having compassion for another person is a supernatural work. We are, by nature, selfish people. In order to TRULY have compassion for those who are suffering, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us see people through His eyes. Only when we gain God’s perspective can we have compassion on the crowd.
3. Compassion should become provision.
In this verse, we see that Jesus fed the crowds’ spiritually hungry souls through teaching them. A few verses later, we see that Jesus furnishes their appetites with physical food by multiplying bread and fish. One test on whether or not you are truly exercising compassion for others in your life is if you are willing to provide for them.
James, Jesus’ brother, explains this concept powerfully in James 2:15-16:
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”
What good is it, if you claim to be a compassionate person, if you do nothing to comfort those who are suffering?
Often the “interruptions” in your life are opportunities for you to be used in powerful ways by God. If you neglect to open your eyes to the hurting people around you and instead allow your heart to be filled with selfishness, you will NOT experience the abundant life Jesus promises. Ultimately, your time does not belong to you. Everything, including each minute of your day, is an undeserved gift from the sovereign hand of God.
When you are interrupted today by a hurting person, follow in the steps of Jesus: SEE them as an image bearer of God, have COMPASSION on them in their suffering, and PROVIDE for them in the midst of their neediness.