These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.

The more you hang out with Jesus, the more you understand Him. The more you think about what God’s Word tells us about Jesus the more the Holy Spirit can transform you to be like Jesus. That’s what Mark wants to happen to us as we read and think about the life of Jesus.

One thing you will discover about Jesus is His compassion. Jesus cares. He is very aware of the condition of your heart, the pain you are in, and the struggles you encounter. Today we are going to see two expressions of Jesus’ compassion.

The goal today is for you to see the Lord’s compassion for people and to allow the Holy Spirit to begin or continue His work in your life to be more compassionate toward those in your life. Let’s begin with Mark 6:30,

The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. 31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. 32 So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. 33 But many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. 34 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. 

Immediately after Jesus teaches the crowd He will perform His most public miracle. This is when Jesus takes a kids sack lunch of bread and fish and multiplies it to feed thousands. Before we get into the miracle I want us to focus on the Lord compassion. From this we see two types of compassion that you and I need to have as followers of Jesus.

Practical compassion

Let’s think about practical compassion. Practical compassion is concern and consideration for the person’s physical needs. This covers a wide range of needs such as food, clothing, shelter, education, finding a job, getting rest, or helping them financially. Practical compassion deals with the day-to-day needs of people. 

How did Jesus show practical compassion? Look again at verse 30 which says, The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. “The apostles” had been sent out by Jesus in pairs of two on a “ministry tour.” This was the first time the disciples had done ministry without Jesus physically being present. Up to this point they had watched Jesus do miracles and teach the crowds. Now they were sent out with the authority to heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead (Mark 6:7; Matt. 10:8). In addition, they were also given authority to teach what they heard Jesus teach about the kingdom of God. On this “ministry tour” they were to not take anything with them, no money and no extra clothing (Mark 6:8-9). Jesus wanted them to be completely reliant on God’s provision and power during these weeks.

When they returned they were excited, but also exhausted. Those weeks had been an intense time of ministry for the disciples. Each pair of disciples shared what miracles God had done, what they taught, and how the people responded. It seems the disciples’ ministry tour had been a success because Mark points out there were so many people coming and going [meaning approaching Jesus and His disciples for help] that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.[i] His popularity had gone to another level.

Once they shared their experiences with one another Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” Here is where we see some practical compassion. Jesus cared for His disciples and He was considerate of their needs. He recognized they needed some rest.

A few things from this statement by Jesus:

  • Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves.” He doesn’t say, “Go away by yourselves.” Some translations say, “Come with Me.” There are times you need to make the decision to turn your phone off, TV off, close your laptop, and “go off” to alone with Jesus. You don’t need nor should you be around people doing ministry all the time. You need to recharge your spiritual batteries by being alone with Jesus. Its okay to get away from people and the needs of people for awhile.
  • Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place.” A “quiet place” doesn’t necessarily mean low in volume. The word “quiet” refers to an isolated place, apart from others. In the Greek, it is the same word for “desert,” a place away from human contact and the normal business of life. You need to find a “quiet place” for you and God. That place may be your car, back yard, bedroom, kitchen, or the bathroom. Get away from the normal business of life so you can focus on you and God and rest from the demands of the world. You need a quiet place where you can enjoy the presence of God and relax in His presence.
  • Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” God knows your limits. You cannot work all the time, even if its God’s work. You will burn out. You need to balance out work and rest, time spent with people and time spent with God. The disciples had put in long hours the past several weeks. He demonstrated compassion toward them by initiating they go to a quiet place and rest awhile.

Back to this practical compassion. Jesus is demonstrating practical compassion when suggest to His disciples they get some rest. He is aware of their physical limitations and needs. He demonstrates this again later that day when He feeds the thousands who have come to hear and see Him.

Let’s take a brief look at what God’s Word says about practical compassion.

  • Philippians 2:1 says, “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?[Then Paul answers the question] Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (NLT). You cannot truly be compassionate when you are focusing on yourself. Compassion is not selfish. Compassion focuses on the needs of others. Compassion requires humility. Compassion takes an interest in others. Compassion helps others get ahead. Compassion forgets about itself long enough to lend a helping hand.
  • 1 John 3:17 says, “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?” (NLT). The implication is, if you have enough money to take care of your needs and see someone else who has a legitimate need and refuse to help them then you are not compassionate nor is God’s love healthy in your life. Compassion responds to needs.
  • Philippians 4:4 says, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon” (NLT).  
    • I think there is a connection between having “joy in the Lord” and compassion for people. When you are enjoying God you want to bless people. When you are rejoicing for what God has done and is doing in your life you find it easier to be considerate, compassionate, and patient with people.
    • I also think there is a connection between compassion for people and being aware of the Lord’s return. When you are a follower of Jesus and you are convinced that Jesus will be returning you want to bless people and love people in light of His return. There is something about His return that drives a believer to be more considerate and compassionate toward others.

Practical compassion is being concerned and considerate regarding the physical needs of others. Following Jesus results in caring for people. Even if its simply suggesting they get some rest.

Spiritual compassion

So far we have thought about practical compassion, now let’s think about spiritual compassion. These two actually overlap, but to help us understand them we will separate them. Spiritual compassion is concern and consideration for the needs of the person’s soul. The soul is made up of the mind, the will, and the emotions. It is that part of you where you think, feel, and decide. It is also that eternal part of you.

  • Matthew 10:28 says, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both souland body in hell” (NLT). People may be able to touch you physically and bring harm to you, but they cannot touch your mind, your will, and your emotions. If you let them, they can affect your thoughts, your feelings, and your decisions. They can’t kill that part of you. Regardless of your circumstances, you are to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.
  • 1 Peter 2:11 says,Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls” (NLT). There is a war waging against you. This war is over how you think, how you feel, and what you decide. It is a war over your soul. This world wants you to think wrong about God, about you, and about others. This world wants you to have unhealthy feelings toward God, yourself, and others. This world wants your will to be its will and to desire what God does not want you to desire. This is a war for your soul.
  • 1 Peter 2:25 says, “Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls” (NLT). God cares about your soul. He cares about what you think about. He is concerned about how you feel. He wants you to make wise decisions. He wants to help you protect your soul. He wants to be the “Guardian of your soul.”

We are talking about spiritual compassion, which is concern and consideration for the needs of a person’s soul. This takes us to verse 32, “So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. 33 But many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. 34 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things” (NLT).

Jesus and His disciples get into a boat and headed for the quiet place, where they could be alone. Somewhere along the way they realized their quiet place will have to wait because many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. Most of the time, you will make it to your quiet place. However, there will be those times when your quiet place is delayed due to your spouse’s needs, your children’s needs, home repair needs, backed up sewage and the like. Life happens. Needs happen.

But I want you to notice two things about spiritual compassion.

  • Spiritual compassion causes you to see people differently. Notice carefully verse 34, “Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” Do you know how God sees you? He doesn’t see you as an enemy to be punished. He doesn’t see you as someone to be ignored. He sees you as a “sheep without a shepherd.” He wants to be your shepherd.

Many of you have heard of Psalm 23. You usually hear it at a funeral. It’s the Psalm that begins, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” In Psalm 23, David describes the Lord as his shepherd who guides him, who leads him to rest, who lays him down in green pastures and provides for all his needs. That sounds a lot like Mark 6 here where Jesus feeds the five thousand. He has compassion on the people, he has them sit down in green grass, He guides and teaches them, and He provides for their needs. We are going to see the Great Shepherd taking care of His sheep in Mark 6.

When you have spiritual compassion for people you see them in need of a Spiritual Shepherd. You see them in need of a Savior, someone who can save and redeem their soul.

  • There is something else I want you to see here, spiritual compassion causes you to tell people the truth. Verse 34 tells us that Jesus “had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” What did that compassion cause Jesus to do? “So he began teaching them many things.” His compassion compelled Him to teach them many things about the kingdom of God. Things that would cause some of them to have a change of mind about their sin, change how they felt about God, and effect the decisions they would make in the future. His teaching was aimed at their soul. He was demonstrating spiritual compassion.

When you have spiritual compassion for people you want them to know the truth. You want to share with them the truth about Jesus and His saving power. You want them to know they can be forgiven for their sin and that there is hope.

Listen to Psalm 51:1 which says, “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins” (NLT). Do you know why God forgave you of your sins, because of His compassion toward you. Do you know why you forgive others of their sins, because of your compassion toward them. To follow Jesus is to be compassionate toward those who have sinned and sinned against you.

One more thought and we are done. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you” (NLT). All that is compassion language. The language of someone who cares. Someone who is concerned. Someone who is considerate.

Conclusion

Jesus demonstrated compassion toward those who were doing ministry, but Jesus also demonstrated compassion toward those who needed ministry. He cared about those serving and those being served.

There are people in your life who need you to be compassionate toward them. They need you to care about them, be patient with them, concerned for them, and considerate toward them.

[i] For the disciples to take time to fix a meal for Jesus and the 12 disciples would have taken time. Build a fire, boil water, and cook whatever food they had. They didn’t have McDonalds or a Burger King nearby. They would have had to walk to the nearest town in order to find a restaurant. This is why they didn’t have time to eat.