March 30, 2015
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
“And Jesus … was moved with compassion toward them
because they were as sheep not having a shepherd.”
Actions are insightful. Yet the background in which they occur – what historians call the ‘context’, either adds to or detracts from the action. Consider then the context of the verses at which we are looking.
Verses 14-29 of our chapter show us one of the most selfish and wicked acts – so typical of the brutality of Herod. In light of his sin and the sinister plots of a woman, John is beheaded. A man who faithfully served God is dispatched by the ruler with hardly a qualm of conscience. “For his oath’s sake” is what tipped the scales. His word was more important than God’s Word through John.
Come now to verses 30-32. Weary and hungry, the apostles are gathered round their leader, the Lord Jesus. Service to others was so demanding that they scarcely had time to eat. Rest and refreshment was necessary. He had every “right” to seek a time to Himself, a break from the relentless demands placed upon Him. One could hardly label it selfishness.
Yet the crowds arrive and His shepherd heart is moved with compassion. The ruler on the throne was heartless and cruel (Herod). The leaders of the nation were insensitive and self-seeking. But His was a heart of compassion for men who were like sheep, needing a shepherd to care for and guide them.
There never was a selfish thought in His heart. There never was a moment’s self-indulgence. Coldness and callousness never needed to be purged from His heart. Against the background of man’s hardness, His compassion shines all the more brightly.
- The Lord’s privacy was interrupted. But were there truly “interruptions” to His life or was He always available to meet needs?
- Only Mark of the three synoptic writers records verse 31. What is he telling us about servants and their needs?
- Interruptions reveal how unlike Christ we are. We are caught off guard and feel invaded. How did He respond to interruptions? What did they reveal of Him?