Mark 6:30–34, 53–56 NRSV – The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 6:31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 6:32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 6:33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 6:34 As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 6:53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 6:54 When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 6:55 and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 6:56 And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
Summary – This passage shows Jesus being overwhelmed by the needs of the crowds during these days. As the disciples have gone out in His name, now their is greater demand for Jesus’s personal ministry of healing. In this setting Jesus seeks to pull away from the crowds and permit the disciples rest, since “they had no leisure even to eat.” However the crowds continue to impress their needs upon him so much so that their plan to get away was halted when everyone hurried their after them. Mark is drawing our attention in this context of busyness to Jesus’s compassionate response. “As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (34).
Insight – How do you respond to increasing demands on your time, energy and availability? In our day we speak of being overworked, stressed out, frazzled, burning the candle at both ends and fried. Jesus and the disciples are very overwhelmed but the response of Jesus is one of compassion. He acted selflessly even in the context of physical stress. Because of His compassion He evidenced God’s power through Him so that the last word is, “And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.” All who came into contact with Jesus received God’s healing power. When we display compassion in the chaos of our stresses, God’s power also touches others.
Catechism – How did Jesus view the crowds? He viewed them with compassion since they were like sheep without a shepherd.
Discussion – When you are overwhelmed how do you respond to people around you? What are some ways to respond compassionately to others?
Prayer – Father of our Lord Jesus, we praise you that you sent to us a compassionate Shepherd in the Lord Jesus. We ask that you would make us more like Him as we continue to trust in the full healing he provided through the cross and resurrection. In Christ’s Name, Amen.