“When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” Mark 6:34
Jesus and His disciples had just gotten away for a sabbatical of sorts (Mark 6:31). And so this wasn’t necessarily the most convenient time for a big group of people to show up. But, convenient or not, there they were. And Jesus’ response to them is beautiful, is it not? Even in this less-than-convenient moment, “He felt compassion for them”! Why? “Because they were like sheep without a shepherd”. And in His compassion, Jesus shepherded them – “He began to teach them many things” … “and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14).
And we, too, have people in our lives who are “like sheep without a shepherd”, do we not? Let us respond to them like our Savior –“[feeling] compassion for them” and shepherding them! Perhaps God would have us, like Jesus (Matthew 14:14), help them with some temporal difficulty. And in many cases He would have us, like Jesus, “teach them” – telling them the good news of His Son, informing them of His will for human behavior, comforting them with words of His compassion.
Often they will wander into our paths as individuals, rather than in “a large crowd” as in Mark 6. Maybe one of your “sheep without a shepherd” will be a hurting neighbor to whom God would have you bring some comfort from His word. Or perhaps a spiritually confused co-worker to whom you will “explain … the way of God more accurately.” Maybe a debauched co-worker to whom God would have you (lovingly!) reveal His will for human morality. Possibly a homeless person whom you will bless with a hot meal and the message of the gospel. Or an unknown but apparently lonely senior citizen who calls out to you as you walk through the nursing home … to whom you could sit and listen for a spell, and also share some hope from the Scriptures.
These sheep may not always show up in our voicemails, or at our cubicles, or on our doorsteps, or in our pathways, or upon our consciences at the most opportune moments. But even in the inconvenient moments, let us, like Jesus, “[feel] compassion for them” and shepherd them.
Moreover, brothers and sisters, remember the compassion of “the good shepherd” toward you when “you were continually straying like sheep”* – and let it move you to extend such compassion to others!
*(1 Peter 2:25, emphasis added)