Compassion does not always come naturally to us. Caring for another person in such a way that moves us to serve them and meet their needs requires time, attention, and a loving heart. In the busy world we live in, it is no wonder that finding a truly compassionate person is pretty rare, but it is precisely compassion that moves our Savior to serve even amidst his own busy circumstances.
The Gospel according to Mark is the gospel of action and drama. Mark uses the word “immediately” to set the quick pace of the book. Immediately Jesus is driven into the wilderness (1:12). Immediately the paralyzed man picked up his bed and walked (2:12). Immediately a man with an unclean spirit met them at the shore (5:2). The use of the word makes the reader exhausted, but that is the point.
Indeed, it is clear that Mark wanted his readers to feel the weight of the exhaustion of Jesus and his disciples in their ministry. In Mark 6, we see that Jesus sends the apostles out to preach the gospel from city to city. They were tired. They needed rest. Upon their return, Jesus recognized that they all needed a reprieve because “many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat” (Mark 6:30-31). The demand of the immediate needs were so great that they didn’t even have a moment to eat!
It is at this very moment of utter exhaustion that we see the beautiful and sacrificial compassion of Christ.
The group retreats to a desolate place, but the crowds follow them. They cannot even take a moment for themselves - hungry, tired, and depleted. The demand of ministry is so great, but instead of resisting or turning them away, our Savior looks at the crowd of people and has compassion on them “because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34). In the midst of his busyness, he sees their need and is moved to love them even more.
What follows is his miraculous feeding of the five thousand. He first fills their head and heart with his word, then takes a few fish and loaves to meet their physical needs as well. Although Jesus and his disciples were hungry (remember they couldn’t even eat?), Christ’s sacrificial compassion worked miraculous provision and substance so that thousands could hear his life-changing Word.
Are you busy? Are you tired? You are in good company. Jesus understands the demands of a full life. He knew the importance of rest and sought it out for himself and those under his care. However, his rest did not distract him from his mission - to seek and save the lost. His compassion for people moved him to sacrifice his own comforts to meet their needs.
May we be women who are moved by compassion to share the love of Christ with a lost and dying world, to serve others in their time of physical need, to care for those around us as we imitate our compassionate Lord.
Kristen Ferguson is a member of Lakeshore City Church. As a wife, mom, and Director of Online Education for Gateway Seminary, she strives to make Christ's name known around the world.