Title: Jesus, the Shepherd of His People
Text: Mark 6.31-56
Introduction: One of my favorite Psalms is the 95th Psalm:
95 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3 For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Where does such praise come from? It comes from a clear understanding of who He is and who we are. When you situate yourself properly in comparison of God, who is perfect in everyway – and you see you are human, desperately flawed in everyway – you can’t help but praise him.
Let me ask you this morning: have you been there? Have you gained a proper perspective of where you are situated in relation to him? Wow! It is so moving! It causes us to worship – even if we remain silent with our mouths, our spirits cry out: Praise the Lord!
I think that is what happens in Mark 6.30: 30 jThe apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. This one verse has to be an incredible time of joy – of thanksgiving. These guys go out to serve – their last experience was watching their master be rejected in Nazareth. They’ve probably now learned of John’s demise. But what they experienced! Whew! That must have been incredible! Can you imagine how it started as they caught up with each other – as each pair started talking about what God did! Would you believe… You’re not going to believe this, but… Man, they’re tired, but still filled with such joy – such contentment.
Jesus calls them away to rest. So busy, they’ve not even been able to eat. (31)
AS you look at 6.30-56, here is the flow of the passage:
- In v. 30-33, Jesus receives his disciples back from their missionary journey. He then takes them away to retreat from ministry for some rest, renewal and refreshment.
- In v. 34-44, Jesus feeds the 5,000 men and their families with just 5 loaves of bread and two fish. They’ve gone to a desolate place to get away the people and rest, but the people follow. Jesus, filled with compassion, shepherds these sheep without a shepherd (34). As the hour gets late, the disciples tell Jesus to send the people away so they can get something to eat. But, Jesus tasks his disciples with feeding them; but they don’t really see how that can be done. Then Jesus performs the miracle.
- In v 45-52, Jesus sends the disciples away; he puts his men on a boat and tells them to go ahead of him to Bethsaida; early that next morning, Jesus comes walking on the water. Another miracle
- In v 52-56, Mark gives us a summary of Christ’s ministry as he shepherds so many people across the region.
So, with this movement in mind, I’ll use the following outline:
- Jesus, the Good Shepherd, feeds the 5,000 men
- Jesus, the Good Shepherd, cares for his disciples
- Jesus, the Good Shepherd, ministers to the people of the region
Transition: let’s begin with the feeding of the 5,000.
I. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, feeds the 5,000 men (34-44)
exp.: we pick up in v 34; rd 34; His concern goes way beyond just feeding them. His 1st action when moved with compassion, because they are like sheep without a shepherd is to teach them. Let that sink in. When we read this story, we usually miss this gem. You see my point written out on the screen. The Compassion of Jesus leads him to feed the 5,000. But that isn’t what the Scripture says, is it. Really, if I were being accurate here, I’d have written out: The Compassion of Jesus leads him to teach the 5,000. It is only after the hour gets late and his disciples tell him to send them away that Jesus performs the miracle.
I don’t know how to say this softly – it sounds so harsh. But, here is what is on my mind. I’m concerned about a ministry that only feeds people or only clothes people or simply meets their needs. Don’t get me wrong – that is important. People won’t listen if their stomachs are rumbling or if they’re cold. But if you feed them, and you don’t teach them – really, what good have you done.
ill.: I served on the Ministerial Alliance in Worland. We did many fine things together – ministry for the community. One of our jobs was feeding the poor at thanksgiving. What we did was to put these baskets together of Turkey, ham, all the trimmings and deserts, so that families would have Thanksgiving dinner. One of our pastors asked if his church could put in New Testaments. He said their congregation would buy them so that it would add no cost to the Association. You’d have thought he wanted to put in pornographic novels! There was this huge outcry. And it wasn’t about the version. There was this sharp disagreement – no Bibles. Most of us were dumbfounded, trying to understand what was wrong with putting in the Scriptures. After much discussion, here’s what I figured out. A few of the pastors were afraid some of their people might get saved. Now, that’s a simplified statement to say that it was offensive to these pastors to see their people, people who were members of their churches, repenting of their sins and making a commitment to follow Jesus. These pastors prevented the rest of us from adding anything other than food. An alternative was suggested – The Jesus video, but not even the Jesus video was allowed. The reason: nothing is more offensive to these pastors than one of their own members getting saved! Let that sink in. Believe it or not, I get it. What does it say of me – a pastor – if one of my people gets saved outside of my congregation? My ego takes a hit! This one pastor, in the heat of discussion said to the rest of us: So we send them food, we feed them. What are fattening them up for – if only to send them to hell!
app.: No, we must teach them. We give, we go, we meet needs, but not for those purposes alone – No, we must tell them about Jesus, the one who sent us. The Compassion of Jesus is demonstrated in how he cares for those he sees as Sheep without a Shepherd. He began to teach them.
ill.: I saw this report in World Magazine: Sleepyhead Shepherd – 1,000 sheep came wondering in to this town in Spain – Huesca, Spain after their shepherd fell asleep. I guess counting sheep does make you sleepy! The report said the police actually had rounded up the entire herd before the shepherd even knew they were gone!
exp.: The disciples then see a need: rd v 35-36; I love the realness about this story. They see the need and they then tell Jesus what he needs to do! Do you ever do that? See a need and then tell Jesus what he needs to do. I wonder if we don’t hear him say to us: You do what you just told me to do! Lord, it would take 7 or 8 months wages to buy them bread to eat. Then, Jesus does what only he can do. “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied.
app.: The Compassion of Jesus is demonstrated in how he cares for those he sees as Sheep without a Shepherd. He began to teach them. And he fed them.
We see something that will begin to repeat itself: The disciples come back from this awesome mission trip, but quickly lose their sense of awe. They’ve done this sort of stuff when they were out on the mission field – as Jesus had sent them. Now, they’re just casual observers.
t.s.: Oh, to be more like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who feeds the hungry and teaches them Truth. and Oh, to be like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who cares… as we see in v 30-34; and 45-52 – who cares for his disciples.
II. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, cares for his disciples (30-34; 45-52)
exp.: He’s tried to get them out to a desolate place where they can rest – but there is no rest for the weary. Now that this is done – and the people are satisfied, Jesus puts his disciples in a boat. He puts his men on a boat and tells them to go ahead of him to Bethsaida (45). Now if you’ve been studying this and find a discrepancy in the gospels – I’d say you’re right. I think there is a simple explanation and this is how I see it.
We can only assume that they were to wait for Jesus who was to meet them there. And, Mark doesn’t tell us this, but Matthew and John help us out here, when Jesus didn’t show up at a certain time, they were to make their way in the other direction to Gennesaret. Well, Jesus doesn’t show up, because he’s gone up on a mountain to pray and be alone with his father. What must happen then is the disciples then make their way back westward, where the run into Jesus walking on the water. And I love Mark’s take here: rd 48; He meant to pass by them!
ill.: you ever been skiing? That’s me, skiing – tearin’ it up! Is there anything more excruciating to endure than skiing your heart out, only to have a senior adult woman – like in her 80’s pass you up? Hey wait, that’s not a senior adult woman – that’s Lisa. Yeah, she passes me up, too. That’s humbling. That’s when she was passing my by and stopped for a picture! Listen, I’ve been passed up by women in their 80’s; I’ve been passed up by kids who aren’t even in school yet – that were so little I don’t think they could walk, but were better skiers than me. Probably the most humbling experience for me, was being passed by a blind man on skis. I’m not kidding. I’m glad we don’t have any pictures of those!
These guys in the boat – they must be having a tough time as they are fighting this headwind. Evidently, it’s easier for Jesus to walk past them, than it is for them to row. Now that has to be embarrassing. Experienced fishermen can’t even row as fast on water as Jesus can walk on by! But that isn’t their problem – no, they’re afraid because they’re thinking they’re seeing a ghost.
But Jesus, says there in v 49-50: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” The Hebrew would be, “Take heart; I am he. Do not be afraid.” I am he translated into Hebrew is ani-hu, Say it: ani-hu; now you know some Hebrew. That’s probably, horribly said with a southern draw. But here is the beauty. This is how God identifies himself. Moses asks, when they ask me who sent you, who do I say you are? What is your name? God says, tell ‘em: “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.
And so it is, Isaiah 41.4
4 Who has performed and done this,
calling the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord, the first,
and with the last; I am he.
10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
11 I, I am the Lord,
and besides me there is no savior.
12 I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I am God.
13 Also henceforth I am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work, and who can turn it back?”
Jesus is saying – it’s ok guys, it’s me, God. ani-hu – Don’t be afraid.
app.: Jesus is concerned for his disciples as he desires to teach them more about how to function without him. You see this as he teaches them about the loaves and the fish and this comes out in 51b-52; rd 51b-52; Ok. That verse just doesn’t seem to fit. Does it? But I think Mark is just saying that these guys didn’t get that moment and they didn’t get the loaves and the fish and they’re just not getting it – their hearts are becoming harder toward what Christ is doing.
t.s: Finally, #3
III. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, ministers to the people of the region (53-56)
exp.: rd v 53-56; the Good Shepherd, Jesus – he loves, he cares, he has compassion and tenderness toward those who are lost – like sheep without a shepherd.
app.: His compassion extends throughout the region as many come seeking his help and healing.
Conclusion: You know, there is so much for us to learn from Jesus. We want to be like him, but too often we miss just what he’s trying to teach us. For those of you who follow Christ, I would like to encourage you to follow closely. Note:
- The importance of teaching the gospel to people and not just meeting their needs – although that is important, too. Tell them why you’re doing what you’re doing.
- And, how about the next time you see a need – how about trying to meet that need instead of telling Jesus what he needs to do to fix that need? Maybe you’ll hear him say – you take care of it!
- And about hard hearts…man, I worry about my own understanding of circumstances and situations. I worry that my heart might become hard to his leadership – that I won’t get what he’s doing. Maybe your prayer is like mine: Lord, teach me to Trust in you with all my heart, and to not lean on my own understanding. Help to acknowledge you in all my ways and trust that you’re making my paths straight.
- But listen, if you’re not a believer – a follower of Christ – then I encourage you to place your trust in him today. He is the Good Shepherd and he cares for you infinitely more than you can imagine. His compassion toward you this morning is indescribable. Won’t you trust your life to him? I’ll close with the rest of Psalm 95… Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”
Won’t you enter today… let’s pray.