Summary: Often it is in times of frustration and incessant demands that God most effectively teaches us how to have compassion and to serve others with His power.
Serving Others When They Should Be Serving You
THE SETTING: Mark 6:27-29
1. Disciples just returned from long ministry tour through towns – they’re exhausted
2. And Jesus finds out his cousin (john the Baptist) has been brutally killed – he is grieving
READ Mk 6:30-31
They need rest, comfort, recovery time. Hard to think of a situation that would justify some time off more than this – exhaustion from serving God, family tragedy. However…
PROBLEM #1: Others Ignore My Needs
Crowds won’t let them get away; they get to the vacation spot before Jesus & the disciples! They arrive to find a big crowd waiting for them. The very thing they were trying to get away from!
PROBLEM #2: Others’ Needs Become My Problem
1. The sun was setting – would be dark soon
2. v.44: 5000 men, which probably amounts to 15,000 with women & children included
3. In a remote place – nowhere to eat
Add these up and you have the imminent threat of an unruly mob on your hands!
Few things can be as infuriating as this: when my legitimate needs are ignored and the needs of other people only add to the burden I have to carry.
In what ways does this happen in our lives?
At work? Marriage? Kids? (of course!) In ministry?
I. One option is to throw your hands in the air and give up. Demand your right to put yourself first. Shut the door on the needs.
A. Maybe dramatize what this looks like in everyday life…
B. Frankly, there may be times when saying no is appropriate. We can’t meet all the needs around us and survive.
C. But the real question is whether in times like this we ever take option #2…
II. The other option: (what Jesus does)
A. Cultivate compassion (see v.34)
1. This may be the primary way God teaches you compassion for other people – by putting you in situations like this!
a. We learn compassion in the midst of frustration and incessant demands!
b. Sometimes God fills our heart with pity and compassion for another’s plight. The Greek indicates here that Jesus was deeply moved.
c. And yet there are also times when we have to make a choice to consider the needs of others as more important than my own legitimate needs. Compassion may not start as a feeling, but as a choice. We don’t learn compassion by sitting around waiting – even demanding that God make me feel compassion for a person as a precondition to action.
2. It tells us Jesus had compassion on them because he noticed that “they were like sheep without a shepherd.”
What do you think that means?
a. Consider the defensive abilities of a sheep. Consider the sheep’s ability to build or find shelter for itself. Consider the sheep’s ability to hunt or locate sustenance for itself.
b. Jesus saw people (you & I too!) as sheep. Does that bother you? We need a shepherd, and Jesus is eager to lay aside his needs to serve us as our shepherd.
c. GOSPEL: For instance, Jesus met our need for forgiveness at great cost to himself...
B. “You feed them” (see v.37)