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.
My son attended a skateboarding camp this summer. After his first day, I asked him how things went. His voice got tender as he told me about a campmate. I guess the other little fellow struggled. I asked him how he responded. “I smiled at him,” he said, and then added, “he’s going to need some special care.”
It was a lovely moment. He wouldn’t have said it this way, but his notice of the boy and compassion toward him was evidence of the kingdom breaking in.
Mark 6 tells two stories of two kings—how they shepherd, and who gets invited to their table. In the first story, we meet King Herod. His table is filled with cronyism and back-slapping. His “shepherding” is marked by adultery and murder.
In the second story, we meet King Jesus. At his “table” is an enormous crowd who Jesus laments are like “sheep without a shepherd.” Herod had just been exposed as a petulant fraud, having beheaded their beloved John the Baptist. And amidst their sorrow, Mark tells us that Jesus sees the shepherdless crowd and has compassion on them.
Isn’t that wonderful? This is what Jesus’ shepherding looks like: seeing and having compassion. Perhaps this shouldn’t surprise us; when it comes to these qualities, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Once when Jesus was describing his Father, he told a parable of a rich man’s foolish son, and concluded by detailing their reunion. It’s maybe the clearest depiction of God he ever gives: “But while he was a still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him . . .” (Luke 15:20).
To see and to have compassion. May these be the marks which define us as we reflect the heart of the Father and the true King.
SCRIPTURE TO REFLECT ON: MARK 6
1. Do you see the needs that are present in the world around you? Ask that King Jesus will grant you an increasing ability to see. As you see the world, is the King’s compassion being reflected in you? Ask that the King will grant to you his compassion.
2. For those of us with children: Jesus “learned” compassion from his Father. Are our children learning the same from us? What can we do to help them “see” the world, and have compassion for it?
Andy Lambkin is part of a church plant in Vancouver, a network of house churches seeking to
be the church in their neighbourhoods (simplechurches.ca). He supports the Canadian Pacific
District by assisting church-planting initiatives. Andy loves to teach and write, sharing the
hope of God’s kingdom. Visit andylambkin.com.