Mark 6:30-44 How Compassion helps in Discipleship
30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught.31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.
When the disciples ministered, they had the culture of regrouping back to Jesus to report to him what they have done. This is such an important aspect of discipleship. I could imagine Jesus coaching and guiding them on how to disciples effectively as this was something new to them. Also, Jesus suggested that they take a breather after seeing them exhausted from work.
33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
Because of the work they do, preaching the gospel with accompanying signs and wonders, crowds started following them. The people wanted this new kind of teaching that touches the heart and not just the external behavior that they went to great distance to follow Jesus and His disciples. When Jesus saw the crowd, He had great compassion for them and started teaching them many things.
Jesus’ compassion for the people did not end there. When it grew late, He was burdened to see the people go home with empty stomachs so he decided to do a miracle;
35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late.36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied.43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
It’s amazing how when we get to this text, we always see the multiplication of the five loaves and the two fish and sometimes forget that the motivation behind the miracle was Jesus’ compassion for the people. It was also a way for Jesus to teach the disciples to move with compassion and not just minister the Word. It is a great lesson especially for Christian leaders who at times are so consumed in finishing a lesson rather than minister to the people. We must have a healthy balance of both word and compassion.