The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 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. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 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. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.
In Mark’s version of this story, what stood out to me was how Jesus saw the crowd as sheep without a shepherd. They were so desperate to feel safe and loved that they followed Jesus out into the middle of nowhere! How could He not feel compassion for them? Yet, in doing so, they left behind all civilization that could take care of them. They had the choice to be close to Jesus, or to be close to food. And, as any sheep would, they chose to be near the shepherd. So Jesus felt moved to provide for them.
I also noticed how tired Jesus and His disciples were. They had traveled to this place in hopes of finding peace and quiet so they could have some much needed rest and a good meal. But they literally couldn’t get away from the crowd. Did this make Jesus angry or frustrated? No! It moved Him to teach the people since they were so eager to learn.
Many times in our journey as disciples, people are going to need our help at a time that is inconvenient to us. Maybe they want to talk about God at the end of a long, hard day when you would rather just watch TV. Maybe a natural disaster hits a town and they are in need of food and blankets just when you had saved up enough money to get that new video game system. Maybe your church planned mission work on the weekend you were hoping to go see a sporting event or concert. But instead of responding with frustration, or giving your time or money begrudgingly, look to Jesus as an example. Have compassion on those in need, and see it as an opportunity to show them how much you and God both love them. Amazing things will happen.