“When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.” – Mark 6:34
Turkish shepherds watched in horror as hundreds of their sheep followed each other over a cliff, say Turkish reports. First, one sheep went over the cliff edge, only to be followed by the whole flock, according to the reports. More than 400 sheep died in the 15-meter fall – their bodies cushioned the fall of the next 1,100 others who followed. (BBC News)
Sheep are not the brightest animals in the world. They are dumb, prone to wander, and fairly defenseless. Tim Challies says this about sheep, “Left to themselves, sheep will not and cannot last very long. Just about any other domesticated animal can be returned to the wild and will stand a fighting chance of survival, but not sheep. Put a sheep in the wild and you’ve just given nature a snack.”
So without a shepherd sheep are in trouble. In fact, sheep are hopeless without a shepherd. And that is what Jesus is saying here about the people in Mark chapter six. Without a shepherd, they were lost; they were hopeless. This was true of the crowd that Jesus interacted with and this is true of everyone today who is not a believer. This was also true of you and me before we came to the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Humanity apart from Christ is like a sheep without a shepherd. Humanity apart from Christ is lost and hopeless. Jesus is our Shepherd, our only hope and means of salvation.
Jesus has compassion on these people and out of His compassion for them, what does he do? Look the end of verse 34. It tells us, “And he began to teach them many things.” The result of his compassion for these people was to teach them. He gave them what they needed most – himself! He gave them information about himself! He gave them the words of God. He taught them the things of God. His compassion for them resulted in him teaching them about God.
It is God that has the power to bring the dead to life spiritually. And it is the Word of God that nourishes the believer spiritually. Let’s be sure to teach, and share God’s Word with each other as we share with the world around us, because in the teaching and preaching of God’s Word, the dead come to life spiritually and the spiritually alive grow in the faith.