Our Shepherd Knows Our Needs
The Lord knows us and knows our afflictions. In Mark 6:30-44 we have a beautiful picture of this knowledge of the Lord and the compassion that flows from Him in light of this knowledge.
The first scene is of the twelve disciples. They have been laboring in ministry the entire day and Christ is an observant shepherd. He knows that they are tired. And this knowledge of their affliction leads Him to say, “Go away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (v. 30). He does not need to ask, as the Lord of all He knows all; and that knowledge leads Him to compassion.
The next scene in the passage is of Jesus and the disciples crossing the sea to find a place to rest. However, before they can reach the other side they see the crowd on the beach. We are told, “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (v.34). Again, the Lord knows the affliction of His people. What does He do with this knowledge of their affliction? He addresses it. He has compassion for their estate, so He begins to teach them (v.34).
The third scene occurs at the end of the day, after this time of teaching. The Lord looks out upon the people and once again demonstrates the full knowledge He has of their needs. They are hungry and there is no food. As occured in the two previous episodes, this knowledge also leads Him to compassion. He addresses their need by multiplying the fish and the bread to feed them.
He knows of the disciples’ tiredness, the crowd’s ignorance, and the peoples' hunger. Our Lord and Savior knows His people's every need. And that knowledge is not just bare facts to Him. He is not like the court reporter who simply jots it down or records it. Rather, this knowledge moves Him with compassion.
He cared about their seemingly smallest afflictions: rest, ignorance, hunger. This can too often be lost in our counsel, teaching, and own thoughts. He has saved us from our greatest afflictions: death, hell, satan, and sin. All accomplished out of His great compassion, love, mercy, and grace. This cannot be overemphasized. Yet, it is also true that we should comfort the weary, minister to the languishing, and encourage the afflicted with the truth that their faithful High Priest not only looked upon their spiritual affliction and acted in compassion, but looks upon their seemingly smallest afflictions and acts with compassion.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4a Paul says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction..." "That word “comfort” means encouragement or consolation. God is the God of all comfort or encouragement or consolation. It is the same word that is often used to speak of the “consolation of Israel” throughout the Scriptures. Consolation, meaning deliverance from all hostility. Simeon, that old man in Luke 2, was said to be waiting for the “consolation of Israel.” When He saw the Lord Jesus Christ, he said, “My eyes have seen your salvation.” He not only brings us consolation and comfort, but is our consolation and comfort. And He is not only our consolation and comfort in some things, but in all things.
God knows what His people need in the midst of their afflictions. Whether it is tiredness, ignorance, hunger or the greater afflictions of death, sin, satan, and hell. And that knowledge is not bare knowledge. It is not knowledge that leads Him to act and provide in the person of His Son. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, He comforts us in "all our affliction." "All"--there is nothing outside of His knowledge or care. He is in the person of His Son, the good Shepherd, who knows, cares, and provides for His sheep.