Mark’s Gospel is breathtaking, both in its pace and its content. We are still reeling from the story of John the Baptist’s execution when the disciples return to Jesus with an account of their recent mission trip. No doubt it was both exciting and exhausting! No wonder Jesus was ready to lead them all to a remote place for a time of rest and recovery.
Soon they were in a boat headed for some quiet spot; but when they arrived, a crowd had gathered. It is here that Mark pauses with some of the most poignant words in his Gospel. He writes that Jesus “had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”
It’s not a part of our reading for this week, but we know what happens next. Jesus the Shepherd feeds the crowd with his words and then involves his disciples in serving a miraculous dinner on the grounds. Everyone is fed. Everyone has enough—more than enough. Then the disciples are off again.
It’s natural to identify with the disciples in this story, but perhaps the first thing for us to do is to claim our personal place in that crowd on the shore. That’s where we all start, isn’t it? We are like sheep without a shepherd, hungry and weary, lost and afraid, sometimes badly led. It’s where we start and where we may find ourselves again from time to time. Perhaps today. The Gospel invites us to look up and meet once more the compassionate gaze of Christ!
Good Shepherd, help us to trust that you are close at hand right now, to know that you see us clearly and compassionately. Feed us, we pray, and lead us in the days to come. Amen.
David was God’s anointed king over Israel. He believed God desired a house, a temple worthy of God. But God wanted David to understand that only God can build things that truly last. Thus, God promised to construct a dynasty from David’s family. From this line will eventually come the ultimate King, the Messiah, who will rule God’s people forever. The Messiah will complete God’s work of uniting all people as children of God, and the author of Ephesians declares that this has happened through Christ. All God’s people—Jew and Gentile—are now part of a holy, spiritual temple. In Mark, Jesus shows that part of being a great king is showing compassion. He puts aside his own desires to help those in need of guidance and healing.
Read 2 Samuel 7:1-14a. When have you changed your opinion on something significant? What led to the change?
Read Psalm 89:20-37. What helps you recall God’s faithfulness in times when you may feel abandoned?
Read Ephesians 2:11-22. Where have you found Christ breaking down dividing walls between groups of people? What part does your Christian community play in bringing people together?
Read Mark 6:30-34, 53-56. When have you had an experience of illness or accident that left you isolated from community? How did that increase your awareness of others in that situation as you moved to health?
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