04/18/S – Sheep Without a Shepherd

Leviticus 14:1-32; Mark 6:30-44; Psalms 40:4-10; Proverbs 13:11

NT: “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place, but many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they ran on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. When he went ashore, he saw a large crowd and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things.” (‭‭Mark‬ ‭6:30-34‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

The 12 disciples/apostles had just returned from being sent out by Jesus to minister. They had given of themselves and needed to rest and recover. When we follow Jesus, He will ask great things of us, but He will not run us ragged or burn us out. If we get burned out in ministry, it is most likely because we have not followed Him into rest. There have been numerous times when I had a full and demanding schedule ahead of me, and Jesus cleared out my schedule and gave me time to rest. But it is on me to take the rest, and not fill up my time with other things (which is often my temptation). Unfortunately, the crowds were not considerate of Jesus and His disciples. They gave no margin, and even rushed ahead to Jesus’ place of respite to hopefully have an encounter with Him when He came ashore. Instead of getting frustrated and impatient (which is what I would do in that situation), Jesus saw them and had compassion on them. Why? Because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Sheep are not the brightest animals in the world.  They are prone to wander and are almost completely defenseless. There have even been accounts of entire flocks of sheep following themselves over a cliff to their death. Left without a shepherd, sheep can not and will not last very long. They are lost and without hope. That is how Jesus saw the large crowd of people: lost, hopeless, blindly wandering around with no sense of direction, easy prey for the enemy. So, for the moment, He sacrificially set aside His time of rest to serve and teach the crowd. What ensued afterward was the miraculous feeding of the 5,000. Firstly, I am thankful that my Lord is a compassionate Lord and He does not allow Himself to feel impatient or inconvenienced when I need Him. Secondly, I am thankful that I am not without a shepherd. I don’t have to blindly find my way through this world, for I have a Good Shepherd that leads me.

Psalms: “How happy is anyone who has put his trust in the Lord and has not turned to the proud or to those who run after lies! Lord my God, you have done many things — your wondrous works and your plans for us; none can compare with you. If I were to report and speak of them, they are more than can be told. You do not delight in sacrifice and offering; you open my ears to listen. You do not ask for a whole burnt offering or a sin offering. Then I said, “See, I have come; in the scroll it is written about me. I delight to do your will, my God, and your instruction is deep within me.”” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭40:4-8‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

How happy! How blessed! That is the state of the person that places His trust in the Lord and follows Him, instead of following blind “leaders” that could easily lead them off a cliff. When we follow our Good Shepherd, He leads us in His wonderful plans for our lives and endlessly does wonderful things to protect and provide for us. Our Lord and Shepherd isn’t ultimately looking for us to bring sacrifices to the altar. He is ultimately looking for us to follow His instructions and chaphets (desire, delight in, pursue) His will. If we do that, how happy we will be.

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