“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 ESV)
Sheep without a shepherd. What happens to sheep that have no shepherd? They get into trouble. They wander around looking for food and water, eating stuff that is no good for them. They stray and wind up getting lost. They are prey for wolves and other predators. They perish all because there is no one there to guide them in the right way, the way they should go that helps them live and thrive.
Sheep without a shepherd? Jesus saw His people as lost sheep, needy, looking for comfort, and hope. Their shepherds were the scribes and Pharisees, the teachers and mediators of God’s Law and of His grace. They administered the system of sacrifices which was supposed to be the means through which God demonstrated His mercy and granted forgiveness for sin. Yet these religious rulers were not fulfilling their calling. They were laying burdens of laws and rules that none could easily fulfill if at all, thereby denying people access to God and His love while at the same time living in luxury and pride at the expense of the ones they were supposed to serve. They were not shepherding God’s people, leaving them people were open to the brutal assaults from the hardships of life in their day, with little meaning and purpose, with no hope of relief.
Sheep without a shepherd. Is this not an apt description for many in our world today? This past year and a half has been difficult for all of us. The whole pandemic with its accompanying political and social unrest may have depleted our emotional and spiritual resources. We feel beaten up, assaulted by all that has gone on. But we are blessed to have our faith in Jesus. He is our shepherd. He is always with us. Yet billions wander about in this world with no shepherd to guide them. They ignore the church and the Word of God. They seek for shepherds all over the place: science, academia, the government, the media, celebrities, politicians. They wander around with no firm moral or spiritual guidance The result is chaos.
Jesus told the disciples you give them something to eat. He tells us, His church the same thing. Our calling as Christians is to dispense bread, the bread of life, Jesus, the gospel, God’s graceand truth.