“When Jesus got out of the boat, and saw the great crowd, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things.” Mark 6:34

The word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

By this chapter in the story of Jesus, his ministry was really on a roll and crowds were flocking to him, I imagine his popularity was like rock star status by this time. He and his team were so in demand, they were doing such amazing work,  that they could not even find time to stop and eat.


Now I’ll get a little more personal with you guys, I recently joined the staff of a pretty big church here in the Nashville area, it’s actually down in Franklin TN. And since I’m new on this assignment I’m really busy learning the people, culture, systems, structures, etc.

Reminds me of that Veggie Tales song, I’m so busy, busy dreadfully busy…

Anyway, I was meeting with a colleague at the end of the day about something, and in our conversation, she was sharing with she had been so busy that day she not had any time to stop and eat.

So this is exactly what Jesus and his ministry team were experiencing. In this passage, they had been on a long stretch of intense ministry and they needed a break.

Let’s read it in Mark 6:30

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

Jesus recognized the limits we all have as human beings, you have to have some boundaries to have a sustainable ministry, so he scheduled a retreat for he and his team to get away, get some rest and recharge their batteries.

Guys – this is so important, follow the example of Jesus and build in some time to rest and recover, especially if you’re a leader.

So they’ve got to be wiped out, and what happens? When they get to their secluded hideaway, there was a crowd full of very needy people who were desperate for a miracle in their lives.

33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.

This reminds me of scenes from Beatlemania where crowds just chased them

So what happens?

34 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.

Jesus Christ is perfect wisdom, and he is perfect theology. He never did anything that “he did not see the Father do”. He must have seen the people for who they were, and when he saw through the divine perspective, he had “compassion for them.”

Definition of compassion is “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.”

Regarding this passage, one of my favorite radio Bible teachers, Dr. Robert A. Cook says

“In its simplest terms, compassion is uncritical caring. Though the crowds that followed Jesus included those with sharp tongues and disbelieving hearts, He cared about them.”

People had gone through extraordinary means to get a sliver of his personal attention. His response was to teach them, the scripture says “many things” – and in so doing, He was revealing the love of the Father for his children.

So it looks like he delayed or took a detour from his plans for a staff retreat.

So was this the exception or the rule? I don’t know.

Not everybody welcomed him, not everybody believed He was the Messiah, in fact he faced a lot of confrontation and rejection. But he didn’t fix every problem that was on the earth – so he had some way of making priorities according to the value system of His Father’s Kingdom, that was in alignment with his unique identity and purpose.

He was sensitive to the Fathers hand at work and changed his agenda to match God’s.

I think that’s what  a good shepherd does. He can’t solve every problem every time, but you can ask God what He wants you to do, and act accordingly.

My friends, there may very well be a time when you come across a situation where there are  people who are like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord will ask you to minister in that situation. Will you say yes to the Masters call?

Let’s pray.



Daily Worship Devotionals is a 5-minute podcast dedicated to studying the Word of God and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. Currently, we are following the Christian year calendar as our framework. We’re in the season of Lent – a time of self-examination and repentance as we journey with Christ to the cross.