Reading: Mark 6, 7
I catch myself complaining when my plans get interrupted by other people’s agendas. To tell the truth, it isn’t a surprise that I complain. It doesn’t sneak up on me as though it were something alien to me. I choose to complain.
There was no one busier than Jesus was during those brief three and a half years that He had to complete His ministry. In the account we have for us in Mark, He had gifted His disciples with the ability to do miracles, divided them into teams, and sent them out to do ministry (6:7-13).
When they came back they reported everything that had happened. Now Jesus wasn’t the only “show” in town; His disciples must have also garnered a reputation for themselves. The crowds where so big and came so often that Jesus and His team didn’t have a chance to eat (6:31). It looks like He didn’t pay much attention to His mother’s concerns about His physical and emotional state as reported back in Mark 3:20, 21.
But the Lord wasn’t unaware of the need for food and rest. Mark reports the Lord saying: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31, NIV). They went away, by boat, to what they thought would become a spiritual retreat for them—only to discover that the crowds had gotten there ahead of them. Did Jesus complain? Did He send the crowd home, telling them that He was “off the clock?”
“When Jesus landed and saw the large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things” (Mark 6:34, NIV).
I don’t know what Jesus did about “nuisance requests,” but He never denied anyone His help where there existed spiritual hunger, and this was one of those times. Later, after the crowd had been fed, both spiritually and physically, Jesus “went up on a mountainside to pray” (Mark 6:46, NIV). He took the time He needed to spend in the presence of His Father and renew His strength.
Don’t we all need that discernment, and that compassionate heart that Jesus had? Don’t we all need to be able, like Him, to separate nuisance from genuine need and respond with grace and personal sacrifice, if necessary? I believe that the ability to discern, and the open heart and generous hand to respond to genuine need, come in direct proportion to those quiet times in God’s presence. As Isaiah had said some many years before, Jesus knew that: “those who hope (or wait) in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31, NIV).