Like Sheep Without A Shepherd

One of the more intriguing passages of compassion in the Bible is Mark 6:30-34 (which appears in Matthew 14, Luke 9, and John 6 as well), which reads: “Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. And Jesus, when He game out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.”

Why was Jesus moved with compassion that they were like sheep without a shepherd? It is the job of leadership in an institution or society to provide direction for most people. Any successful work requires strong leadership at the top, with a broad and deep enough development of leadership to continue the institution or movement after the original leader dies. This is not an easy matter, as passing on a righteous legacy [1] is among the most difficult tasks a leader has to accomplish to be successful for the long term. As we are involved in projects that go on far beyond our own lifetimes, extending into the past for many generations and extending into the future as long as we remain on this earth. Even as much as we might enjoy rest and relaxation, we may be moved by our compassion for those who struggle in darkness to teach and instruct those who hunger and thirst for knowledge, even if we are tired ourselves.

There is another passage where this sort of compassion plays a major role in a biblical circumstances, a passage that is much more obscure, 2 Chronicles 28:8-11: “And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand women, sons, and daughters, and they also took away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria. But a prophet of the Eternal was there, whose name was Oded; and he went out before the army that came to Samaria, and said to them: “Look, because the Eternal God of your fathers was angry with Judah, He has delivered them into your hand; but you have killed them in a rage that reaches up to heaven. And now you propose to force the children of Judah and Jerusalem to be your male and female slaves, but are you not also guilty before the Eternal your God? Now here me, therefore, and return the captives, whom you have taken captive from your brethren, for the fierce wrath of the Eternal is upon you.”

Here we see a different sort of compassion, although it too was shown to people who were leaderless, whose leaders had been slaughtered in battle for their unbelief. Yet those who had won the victory were also under God’s wrath, as their nation would soon go into captivity for its own unbelief and its own rebellion against God’s ways. Not coincidentally, the people of Judah were not long for their own freedom, as within 40 years of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the autonomy of the Jews as well as the existence of the Temple and the priestly aristocracy would be ended after the revolt of 67. A corrupt leadership that had failed to provide for the well-being of their people would soon be removed from that leadership position because of God’s wrath. Just as God provides leaders with offices and commands respect of those offices, so too God commands leaders to enforce His ways and to provide for the well-being of those that they serve.

Why is it so hard to find good shepherds, or to be a good shepherd? To be a godly leader is a very difficult task, made more difficult by the fact that many of us do not trust others easily and tend to be critical and skeptical of those who lead. As leaders, all of us will be imperfect because of our own limitations or flaws and because the overall plan that we lead with will not be easy to see or understand by others. Yet though we may inevitably be judged harshly by some others, especially by those who are not experienced at governing themselves, so long as we dedicate ourselves to service based on the talents and opportunities that we have to serve, we can help prevent a situation in our own institutions and societies where there are many sheep without a shepherd, upon whom God looks with compassion even as their societies face judgment.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Christianity, History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Like Sheep Without A Shepherd

  1. Pingback: Book Review: No One Sees God | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Leadership Gold | Edge Induced Cohesion

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