Mark 6:30-34: The Shepherd’s heart.

“30 The apostles gathered round Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognised them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” NIV UK

It’s good to know that we can (and, I believe, should) talk to Jesus about our work. We ought not to speak about it to others in a bragging kind of way, but we can tell Jesus in an honest sort of way. Talk it over with the Lord: the concerns on your heart, the problems requiring solutions, the ministry you have performed and that which still lies ahead. You can tell Him about your successes, and give Him the glory. You can also discuss the failures – whether real or apparent. When I was a little boy, I had a lovely pastor called George. He taught us a simple song that went: ‘’A little talk with Jesus makes it right, alright.’’ It’s amazing how it does. Even if the situation doesn’t change, you will change on the inside as you cast your burden on Him. It’s what He wants you to do.

Jesus knows our needs better than we do. He is aware of them even before we tell Him. On this occasion He knew His disciples needed rest. They had just returned from a ‘ministry trip’, and found themselves in a situation of constant demand. Few of us will ever have been so busy as the disciples were at this time.

Jesus called them into rest. But as well as showing for all time the legitimacy of rest, He also demonstrated that there are times when our own needs must take a back seat to those of others. In ministry, we have to train ourselves to be open to interruptions. Jesus’ Shepherd heart could not hear bleating sheep and not care for them; He could not see hungry sheep and not feed them. However, in the first place, He stepped up and took responsibility. It seems He kept His disciples out of the picture until later in the day. He showed loving, protective concern for the under-shepherds too. After all, were they not also His sheep?

Note that true rest has time with Jesus at its heart; and whatever we do to rest, it will not turn out to be rest if it is not Christ-centred (30, 31, 32).

‘’Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’’ (Matthew 11:28-30).