In Mark 6:30-44 we have Jesus filled with compassion for his people who are like “sheep without a shepherd.” In the original Greek, literally the word we translate as compassion means “to have one’s guts torn apart.” What causes this primal compassion Jesus feels for the crowds? Their ignorance, their lack of knowledge?
He teaches them well into the late hours of the day. Later in the story he had further compassion on them for their physical hunger. He tells the disciples to feed the people. He doesn’t ask them to, he tells them to.
The disciples’ lack of compassion for the people makes Jesus’ all the starker. The disciples balk at having to spend so much to feed so many when they had suggested that the crowds be told to go and buy their own food. Having just come from the mission fields, the lesson of hospitality has been wasted on them. While they were to rely on the compassion of others in the mission fields, we find them without compassion for the people following Jesus in desperate need for His teachings.
Jesus cares not solely for His people’s spiritual lives but also their physical well-being. And He tells us to do the same.
“But he answered and said to them, ‘You give them something to eat.’” Mark 6:37 NKJV
Dear God, help us to do what you commanded your disciples to do all those years ago – Give your people something to eat, both physically and spiritually. Amen.