He Welcomed Them

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The Bible in Mark chapter 6 tells us Jesus and His disciples were sailing on a boat to a quiet place to rest, for they had earlier been preaching and ministering to many people. Many people caught sight of them on the boat, ran along the shore and got to the place ahead of them.

Mark 6:34 (NLT/NKJV)
Jesus saw the huge crowd as He stepped from the boat, and He was moved with compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.

A total change of plan. Jesus and His disciples were seeking a quiet place. But now were faced with a huge bustling crowd of people. They were intending to have a well-deserved rest. But now they were in for another session of preaching and ministry.

Honestly, I am curious how the disciples feel when Jesus decides to teach the multitude instead of having the intended quiet rest. I wonder if they would be thinking in their heart, “Perhaps we could send them away first and tell them to come back a few hours later, after we catch some rest.” I wonder if they share the compassion Jesus has for the multitude, seeing and feeling their need for a shepherd, above seeing and feeling their own desire for a quiet rest.

I learn here from Jesus what it means when He says He must be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49). Jesus always looks deep into the soul of the people and recognize their spiritual need and hunger. And He immediately addresses and meets this need, laying aside what He originally planned for Himself, which is to rest, in this instance.

Perhaps today you are also seeking time, space and rest for yourself. Maybe you are busy managing your family and building your career. Or you could be bogged down with putting your finances right. God is telling us that as we go about pursuing all these things, have a look at the people we come into contact with every day, be aware of and be sensitive to the spiritual void they may have. Be moved with compassion for them, as Jesus is when He sees the huge crowd. Jesus has promised in Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

When Jesus saw the crowd’s need for a shepherd, Luke 9:11 (NLT) records, “He welcomed them and taught them about the Kingdom of God, and He healed those who were sick.”

Jesus welcomed them. This simple phrase holds within it such rich power, as I read it this time. We can truly welcome someone and make him or her feel accepted and loved, when we first see them with a heart of compassion and love. We can genuinely welcome others only when we lay aside our own agenda to engage with the people sincerely and patiently. There have been times when I was talking with others but in my heart I was hoping the conversation would end soon so I could get on with other things I had to do. Maybe you have done this before too? Today, through this simple phrase in the Bible – “He welcomed them” – God is gently chastening me for those impatient and insensitive acts of mine. God wants me to welcome, receive and engage with the people around me genuinely and wholeheartedly.

After He welcomed them, Jesus went on to preach the Word of God and minister healing to the crowd. In welcoming and engaging with our friends, colleagues and the community, it is more than just chatting and laughing. It is about relating to what the people are saying and how they are feeling, and letting them experience our love and care. And we are to always move into sharing the Word of God and ministering to their needs. After welcoming them, we must always also welcome them into the new life they can have through Jesus. We share the Gospel with them and invite them to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We use verses from the Bible to strengthen them in their areas of need, pray with them and invite them to our church so they may further experience God’s life and love through the church family.

I think this is how we live out Jesus’ instructions to feed His lambs, tend His sheep and feed His sheep (John 21:15-17).

Join me in this prayer.

Dear God, thank You for speaking to me today about recognizing the inner hunger and thirst of the people around me. In every interaction I have with others, let my heart be overwhelmed with Your love and be led by Your wisdom to take the opportunity to talk about Your goodness in my life. Lord, I know that as I sow and water the field to enlarge Your Kingdom, You are causing the growth. As I commit to daily evangelize, Holy Spirit, I depend entirely on Your empowerment to always see others’ need for salvation above my own personal agenda. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

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