Summary: Jesus demonstrates the heart of a true pastor when he leads the lost sheep of Israel to green pasture... litterally.
The Loving Pastor
Pastor Jesus. It’s not a phrase you hear very often. In fact, you may never have heard Jesus referred to quite like that. Nevertheless, Jesus was and is our pastor—the Good Pastor. The word pastor—which we often use to describe our church leaders and preachers—is derived from the Latin form of the word shepherd, and Jesus you may recall boldly proclaimed, “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). The Bible also calls Jesus, “the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25 NIV). Therefore, in a very real sense, Jesus is our pastor.
If Jesus valued loving God and loving people more than anything else, we would expect that to show through his pastoral ministry. Which, of course, it did. All throughout Jesus’ pastorate he healed the sick. He preached to the masses. He would even lay down his life for his sheep. But perhaps the most pastor-like event in Jesus’ life was when he lead the lost sheep of Israel to green pasture....literally. The feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle that is recorded in all four of Jesus’ biographies, but let’s read it from Mark’s gospel:
[Jesus and his disciples] went in a boat by themselves to a lonely place. But many people saw them leave and recognized them. So from all the towns they ran to the place where Jesus was going, and they got there before him. When he arrived, he saw a great crowd waiting. He felt sorry for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began to teach them many things.
When it was late in the day, his followers came to him and said, “No one lives in this place, and it is already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the countryside and towns around here to buy themselves something to eat.”
But Jesus answered, “You give them something to eat.”
They said to him, “We would all have to work a month to earn enough money to buy that much bread!”
Jesus asked them, “How many loaves of bread do you have? Go and see.”
When they found out, they said, “Five loaves and two fish.”
Then Jesus told his followers to have the people sit in groups on the green grass. So they sat in groups of fifty or a hundred. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish and, looking up to heaven, he thanked God for the food. He divided the bread and gave it to his followers for them to give to the people. Then he divided the two fish among them all. All the people ate and were satisfied. The followers filled twelve baskets with the leftover pieces of bread and fish. There were five thousand men who ate. (Mark 6:31-44)
Here the pastoral character of Christ shines brighter than ever—demonstrated in a more ways than one. Among the many lessons Jesus must have shared with his disciples during this impromptu picnic, five seem to stand out above the rest. The first of these five is a lesson in...
A multitude of more than five thousand people had been following Jesus for several days. Jesus was so busy healing those with diseases and teaching those who would listen that he and his closest followers, the Apostles, didn’t even have a chance to eat. So Jesus and his followers retreated by boat to a remote and isolated place to escape the crowds. “But,” the Scripture says, “many people saw them and recognized them. So from all the towns they ran to the place were Jesus was going, and they got there before him” (Mark 6:33).
I can only imagine the exasperation on the face of the Apostles as their tiny boat approached the shore. Tired. Hungry. Trying to get away from the crowds. Hoping for just a moment’s peace. Instead, “when he arrived, he saw a great crowd waiting” (vs. 34). You might expect Jesus to get aggravated. This picnic was not a part of his itinerary and these “party crasher” weren’t invited. Frustrated, he could have ordered the Apostles to turn the boat around and head for some other shore; he could have simply sent everyone home, telling them that he wouldn’t be doing any more healings, or miracles. It certainly would have been understandable—but that’s just not Jesus. Instead, the Bible says, “He felt sorry for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (vs. 34). Jesus wanted his followers to learn a valuable lesson: loving people sometimes means making compromises.
Like Jesus, we need to learn to amend our plans to make the best of whatever situation we find ourselves in. Life rarely goes the way we planned. Some young people have in mind that they will graduate from college Saturday at 2:00, get married by 5:00, become a deacon at church on Sunday, get a high-paying job by Monday, move into a fancy house on Tuesday, and start having beautiful kids the same year. Life just doesn’t follow such scripted patterns.