Mark 6:34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.
There is a phrase in this text that has always intrigued me, it says that Jesus “was moved with compassion for them.” He was moved with compassion, because he saw a group of people that needed something; they need to be reached. What is even more intriguing to me is all that lead up to His moment of compassion. Jesus had been teaching in multiple synagogues, the Jews were being schooled on the repentance of sin and belief in God. Yet while Jesus was powerfully teaching all over, the very people from his hometown rejected His gift because they knew Him as a child. Also, His cousin, John the Baptist was being beheaded by King Herod; an unjust and unlawful murder of an innocent man. Jesus was preaching, healing and serving till exhaustion; he was being rejected by many including those closest to Him; and His family and closest connections were being unfairly prosecuted. This would discourage most people; but not Jesus.
Can I be honest with you; with the world on stay at home orders; regular people dying across the nation at record numbers by an invisible disease lingering around; a socially corrupt system exposing it’s inherent racism and generational abuse for many people who look like me; jobs being loss and many businesses feeling the impacts; while powerful people in charge of fixing the problems are worried more about elections than the people they should be serving; or even regular everyday people becoming more concerned about being pampered than keeping vulnerable people safe; during this time my heart has become harden towards many people.
Even while much of this chaos going on in the world today has not negatively impacted me significantly; we’ve been extremely favored during this time, yet I’m lacking compassion for some people and need to know how to change that. How is it that Jesus can find compassion, when personally being exhausted, rejected and prosecuted? Here He is found having compassion on this group of people; merely because “they were like sheep not having a shepherd.” Well it is because He saw the people and not his problems. I truly believe if more of us could take this perspective in our own lives; we’d be much better people. Jesus saw that the need of this large group of people (we would find out was more than 15,000 people; 5000 men not including women and children); required His immediate attention. That need drowned out any of His personal issues at the time. He saw that these people needed guidance, knowledge and sustenance. Therefore, Jesus made a decision that he would do three things: Teach, Organize and Feed the people.
- He Taught the People: “So He began to teach them many things.” I was recently talking to one of my best friends about what it takes to teach something effectively. He’s a professional that has become a subject matter expert in the area of training and shared that there are three steps which can be taken to ensure that the material is effectively taught.
People must be taught something new (something they don’t already know) or something familiar in a new way (a new perspective of an old topic); they must be give a choice in what they are being taught (there has to be a point of choice); and finally it must benefit them or have a good result. Jesus obviously is the one who came up with this method, prior to it being taught at our major universities. This was after all His M.O. Jesus came onto the scene teaching repentance in a way that the Chief Priest and Synagogue Teachers had not be accustomed to hearing. He used parables to help the people relate to and understand the truths of His teaching. Jesus offered each person a choice, to believe and follow Him, the Son of God or remain in your sins and out of covenant with God. The choice Jesus gave produced an abundant life. A life of joy and eternal love, that was not all roses, but it provided a future and hope for those who chose it. Jesus was indeed the perfect teacher, who’s compassion moved Him to ensure these lost people not only had the Truth but the opportunity to have a Father. Jesus in His compassion for the people taught them “many things.”
- He Organized the People: “Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties.” A few of Jesus’ strengths was bringing people together from all over and providing order to any situation. After teaching many things to this multitude of people, who had come from all over to see Jesus. There was no structure or pattern taken to get to Him. The people got in where they fit in. Now, the teaching was done, and it was the compassion of Jesus to bring some structure to the chaos that this moment had left. Between the COVID pandemic, the numerous amazing demonstrations across the world for social change and the push to get people back to work; the word chaos does not really do justice to the confusion that is hitting America during this time.
However just as God gave wisdom to the disciples to “make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties,” He has also provided direction to many significant leaders to provide organization that has helped the people needing service today. Churches and humanitarian groups across the world have banned together in money and manpower to get much needed resources (food, toiletries, testing, mask, gloves, money, whatever was need) to the people most impacted by COVID 19. As people stepped up wanting to peacefully protest the police killings and overall social injustice, organizations like Black Lives Matter, Empact, Campaign Zero, Color of Change and many others jumped into action and organized march locations, times and protocols from all over country. Even our Government attempted to organize locations for small business owners to apply for essential loans and funding to keep their business afloat during an unprecedented time for the economy. Jesus in His compassion for the people, helped to organize them “in ranks,” so that they could effectively receive the assistance they needed.
- He Feed the People: “And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all.” While the disciples realized the overwhelming task of trying to provide help to so many people; they saw the only answer as sending them away. Not Jesus, His compassion for people is such that He must step in. Especially when it means doing something miraculous. In this text, Jesus knew how He would help but just as He helped to get people organized, He desired to use other people to feed this multitude. One young boy had five loaves and the two fish, Jesus used that to feed over 15,000; when He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves. Jesus will always feed us, whether it was nutritional, spiritual or emotional; And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Today, God is using the compassionate hearts of many to serve and feed millions of people without money to get something to eat; front line workers who don’t have the time to get something to eat and many people that because of death or loss now find themselves unable to even have the desire to eat. This text demonstrates our Lord’s heart for us in that He has great compassion for us; because He knows that we all help navigating through our lives. And in a transformative time, like the one we all find ourselves living in today. Jesus shows us how to receive teaching, while also being able to teach others, help them organize so that they can receive the help that they need.