The Presence of the Shepherd

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”—Mark 6:30–34 (NIV)

Over the last few months of studying the Gospel of Mark, we’ve seen Jesus’ popularity and fame grow amongst the people in the region of Galilee. Miracle after miracle, discourse after discourse, encounter after encounter, everything Jesus said and did attracted the attention of the people. Even when Jesus and His disciples would try to rest, eat, and relax in solitary places, the people would find ways to follow and catch up to them.

And this is exactly what took place in today’s passage. Why? Because there was something about Jesus that drew people to Him. And it wasn’t just because of His miracles or the casting out of the demons or even the authority He spoke with. It was simply because of Him; His presence.

Remember when a pregnant Mary arrived and John the Baptist starting kicking in the womb of Elizabeth? I’m certain that being around Jesus was different than being around anyone else. Most of the people who went out to see Him were simply looking for hope; for someone to lead them into the promised land, to salvation, and to peace and victory. Even some of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and religious leaders sought Him out to learn from Him.

So, what does Jesus do when they get off the boat and see all the people waiting for Him, to see Him, hear Him, be healed or helped by Him? “He had compassion on them.” Why? “Because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things” (Mark 6:34 NIV, emphasis added).

Two things I want to point out here:

  1. You’ll never find an instance where Jesus doesn’t have time for those who are seeking Him. He always has compassion on them and takes the time to address them, teach them, and go after their hearts.
  2. People are desperate for hope. They’re looking for something to fill the void in their hearts. They’re seeking something to give them the satisfaction, contentment, and peace the world has long since promised but failed to deliver. Money, fame, influence, the right job, the right look, the right friends, a spouse, kids, the big house with the white picket fence . . . none of these things brings wholeness. None of them can be the Psalm 23 good shepherd we’re all seeking. Only Jesus can be that good shepherd!

And here’s something amazing Jesus teaches us: Much of what the world tries to sell us as things which satisfy is put into proper perspective and given true purpose when Jesus is at the center as our shepherd. Family, friendships, fame, money, resources, influence, etc. all falls into place when Jesus is Lord in and over our lives!

Pause: What makes Jesus so different from everyone else? Why did the people flock to be around Him and to hear from Him?

Practice: While Jesus isn’t physically walking the earth right now as He was in Mark 6, His presence lives in His followers. We are His hands and feet, His ambassadors, His representatives to those who don’t yet know Him! You can bring His presence into other people’s lives. This week, be intentional to live, speak, and act like Jesus and to seize opportunities to share the gospel with people. Show compassion, make space for relationship, make time for people, and point them to Him!

Pray: Father, help me to be an ambassador who represents Your Son in such a way that draws people to Him and leads people to seek Him. Amen.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.