Compassion for the Crowds

If you pursue fame and notoriety, it will evade you, but if you flee from fame and notoriety, it will pursue you.

Spring flowers in the Galilee (Image: © First Fruits of Zion)

Rabbi Yeshua sent His disciples out on a mission to proclaim the kingdom of heaven in the villages of the Galilee. “When the apostles returned, they gave an account to Him of all that they had done” (Luke 9:10). The Master hoped for some time alone with His disciples. “Taking them with Him, He withdrew by Himself to a city called Bethsaida” (Luke 9:10).

Word of their presence in Bethsaida spread quickly. “The crowds were aware of this and followed Him; and welcoming them, He began speaking to them about the kingdom of God and curing those who had need of healing” (Luke 9:11). The multitude grew rapidly. “There were many people coming and going,” and Yeshua and His disciples “did not even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31).

In those days, two of the disciples of John the Immerser arrived to tell Yeshua about their master’s death. When Rabbi Yeshua heard the news, He offered John’s disciples no trite condolences about their teacher being in a better place or the mysterious ways of God’s will. The rabbis say, “Do not console your neighbor in the hour when his dead lies before him.” (m.Avot 4:18). The Master said nothing at all to the crowds. He said to His own disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). They immediately withdrew from the crowds and boarded the fishing boat. His disciples pushed off from the docks of Bethsaida and carried Him to a secluded place some distance down the shore where He could be alone to mourn. He felt sorrow like any human being, and He believed in “a time to weep … a time to mourn” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

The crowds that sought Him, however, did not allow Him time to weep or mourn. “When the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities” (Matthew 14:13). “A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick” (John 6:2). “The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them” (Mark 6:33).

By the time the boat landed, a crowd had already begun to gather. “When Yeshua went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” He immediately began to minister to them, healing their sick and speaking to them about the kingdom.

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