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 … 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.
Christian, you have a Shepherd.
Jesus had a pattern of slipping away from time to time to rest, refresh himself, and talk with His heavenly Father. He also encouraged His disciples to take up this same practice in Mark 6, after they had labored in ministry, telling them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). Yet on this occasion, just as Jesus and the disciples arrived at their destination to rest, a great crowd formed. If this crowd was not necessarily unwanted, it was certainly unsought. There would be no possibility of rest. But Jesus did not lash out in frustration, seeing these people as an intrusion. Instead, He “had compassion on them.” Literally, as the Greek puts it, His bowels churned. We might say our stomach lurched.
Jesus was stirred to the very core of His being by this crowd. Why? “Because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” Indeed, they may literally have looked like sheep: thousands of people in their light-colored Middle Eastern clothing, scattered against the landscape. But, more importantly, they were in need of a shepherd for their souls. They needed help navigating safely through life and securely through death. Jesus had come to be that Shepherd, looking for the lost sheep—looking for you and for me.
Jesus went on to feed the crowd, physically and spiritually, proving Himself to be the Shepherd who makes us lie down in green pastures, leads us beside still waters, and restores our souls (Psalm 23:1-3). Here is the King inviting people into His kingdom, the Shepherd inviting sheep into His fold. Where the disciples said, Send them away, Jesus said, Sit them down (Mark 6:36, 39). This is what Jesus does for us: He sees us, hungry and thirsty, straying and lost, and He welcomes us, even at the cost of His own life. Where else can we find a love so true?
Souls of men, why will ye scatter
Like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts, why will ye wander
From a love so true and deep? 
Today, see the leading of your Shepherd not as an imposition on your life but as an act of grace toward you. If you are confused about your way forward, trust Him to guide you through, in this life and to the next. When you struggle to love others, ask Him to give you His heart of compassion for fellow lost sheep in need of a heavenly Shepherd. Christian, you have a Shepherd.
Questions for Thought
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Topics: Jesus Christ Love of God Restoration
1 Frederick William Faber, “Souls of Men, Why Will Ye Scatter” (1854).
Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,