From one of today’s texts in our Friday Morning Bible Reading Fellowship –
The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 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. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mk 6:30–34.
What do you do with sheep who are without a Shepherd? Jesus answers best: Teach them. We need nothing more than we need the Word of God – to know Him through what He has revealed in His speaking and acting. This is of cosmic and eternal importance to the souls of all we meet.
Do we see people “Shepherdless”? Not being led and sustained by Christ Jesus? Then we need to bring them to Him. It is an emergency.
We need to note that in this account, Jesus’ first concern was not their physical, social justice or even psychological needs, but first and foremost, their reconciliation to the Father. Don’t get me wrong, the other things are not unimportant – but the Gospel is primary. The other things may and should follow, but they cannot take the lead.
But what of this teaching? What is it so necessary for those in such outward distress to hear?
1. They need to know who God is.
2. They need to know who they are.
3. They need to understand the problem of sin; how it has separated the, from God and its ill effects in every aspect of life.
4. They need to be reconciled to God through the Gospel; to know what Jesus has done regarding the sin problem through the cross.
5. They need to know the freedom, the responsibilities and the empowerment the Gospel brings. That Christ has sent His Spirit, provided His Word and established His Church, and granted us access to the Father in prayer to those ends.
6. They need to know what this all means in terms of how they treat others and walk with God. To love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength, and their neighbors as themselves.
7. They need to understand the hope of glory and that this world is not our home. We are pilgrims and strangers here, on our way to be with Jesus.