Thursday, October 27, 2011

Compassionate Bread

"Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things." Mark 6:34 NLT

Jesus and his disciples were exhausted and needed some serious "R & R". They needed to getaway and debrief together.

The disciples had just returned from a short missionary stint. Jesus sent them to teach, heal and cast out demons. He sent them out in pairs and without him. As a result, they had stories share and they had questions to ask. Lots to talk about! 

The disciples were indeed exhausted. Not just physically but emotionally. They'd experienced the highs and lows of miraculous ministry in Jesus' name. This is both exhilarating and draining.

Jesus was extremely tired as well. Not just from healings and exorcisms but from ministering to so many people he'd eaten nothing in who knows how long. (v. 31)

In addition to this, Jesus was grieving. He was grieving because he had just learned that his dear cousin and friend, John the Baptist, had just been beheaded by Herod. As a result, Jesus is trying to get his disciples away from the crowds to rest, debrief and grieve. Good shepherd.

But it didn't work out quite that way.

The crowds, of course, didn't realize their situation. They just knew that this may be their best opportunity to hear, touch and be blessed by Jesus. So they pursued Jesus.

...pursued Jesus...

Hmmm...that's good. But I digress...

It's at this point that most of us would be at our breaking point with people. I'd probably be so irritable at this point that I'd be blowing up with any and everyone around me--friend and stranger. 

And yet, while Jesus may have been tempted as we are, he did not sin. In fact, the verse says, "He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things."

"He had compassion on them..." That blows me away. 

Instead of thinking about himself (and even his disciples) he decides to step into yet another opportunity to display the Kingdom of God. 

He begins giving them himself--the Bread of Life! But he doesn't stop there. 

He and the disciples--way out in the wilderness and grieving--serve over 10,000 men, women and children fish nuggets and rolls like waiters in an un-airconditioned warehouse soup kitchen. Makes me hot and tired just thinking about it.

So What?

I have a couple of take-aways here...

First, Jesus responded compassionately to the masses of people pursuing him. He could easily have justified pulling away. Easily. He didn't. 

Am I willing to serve when I'm tired and hungry and have a choice?

Second, when Jesus did serve them, he gave them both the Bread of Life as well as physical bread

Notice, too, that he gave them himself first (bread of life)-then he fed them. We usually do it the other way around (if we give them the Word at all).

Do I see the Word of God as truly more valuable than physical food? (Test: What do you spend more time consuming each day?)