Jesus' Beautiful Humanity
When we think about Jesus, we often think about His care and concern for our spiritual needs. Within this gospel, we see a beautiful mix of Jesus' care and concern for our human needs and our spiritual needs. The disciples, they'd been out doing what Jesus taught them to do. They've been teaching people, healing people, visiting with people, and they come back and Jesus' first concern is for their very human needs. And He says to them, He says, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place in rest a while." He says, "You need some rest. You're doing this great spiritual work, but you need some rest. So come away to a lonely place." And maybe a lonely place doesn't sound that appealing to many people. But if you've been in the throngs of crowds, if you've been in the throngs of crowds for a football game or for a concert, you do yearn for your space. You do yearn for perhaps a lonely place, although we wouldn't necessarily describe it in those terms. And so Jesus says, "Guys, you've been working hard. Come away. You need your space, and you need to rest." And that's a beautiful human concern that Jesus expresses for their very human needs. Of course, then the crowds show up. Crowds continue to come. They continue to come. And what do we see here in Jesus? He says, "As he landed, he saw a great throng, masses of people, and He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd." So again, we see Jesus' enormous humanity.
We talk tons about His divinity, right? But what we're seeing here is just beautiful humanity, and He's got this compassion. They come to the other side, getting off the boat, and He sees just these masses of people. And what's His first reaction. His first reaction is not, "I've got to teach these people's spiritual things." His first reaction is a very human reaction. He had compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Sometimes you and I, we are those sheep without a shepherd. We're in need of direction. We're in need of correction. We're in need of teaching. We're in need of wisdom. And very often in our lives, we happen upon other sheep without a shepherd. Very often, we look at other people, what's happening in their life, how they're responding to what's happening in their life, and we think, "Wow, that person is lost." And that's a judgment, right? Jesus didn't get off the boat and say, "Wow, these people, they all messed up. They are lost." No, He got off the boat with great compassion. These people are sheep without a shepherd. Were they lost and confused? Yeah, they were. Were they yearning and hungry for direction and wisdom and teaching and guidance? Yes, they were. But His reaction is compassion, not judgment. And I think very often when we happen upon sheep without a shepherd in our lives, our critical thinking minds do go very quickly to judgment. And we have to retrain. We have to retrain ourselves in that way. And then of course, what does Jesus do? As He landed, He saw the great throng, and He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things. So he didn't just say, "Ah, these people are lost, leave them to their own devices." He didn't just say, "Argh, these people are lost. They did it to themselves. It's their problem. They created it, they can fix it." No, He began to teach them. And He began to teach them many things.
What's the lesson here? I mean, so many lessons, right? We are lost. We are like sheep without a shepherd. Very often, other people we encounter in our lives are like sheep without a shepherd. How do we treat ourselves when we feel a little bit lost? Are we judgmental of ourselves, or do we tap into that compassion that Jesus has for us when we're lost? How do we treat other people when they're lost, when they're like sheep without a shepherd? Do we judge them or do we tap into the compassion that Jesus has for us, each and every single one of us, when we're lost? But the bigger macro lesson here, I think, is Jesus' beautiful humanity and what we can learn from that beautiful humanity and how we can tap that beautiful humanity in ourselves. The disciples come back, they've been out there, they've been working hard. What's His first concern? You guys need rest. And His first concern wasn't, "Hey, I heard about this thing that happened over there. You did that wrong, and you shouldn't have done that. And why did this happen?" No, His first concern was, "Guys, you need rest." Grace builds on nature [inaudible] take care of our humanity so, to the best of our humanity, can rise up within us. And Jesus knew that better than most. And I think, very often, we get caught up in the divinity of Jesus We lose sight of His beautiful humanity. And I think this reading is calling us to rediscover Jesus' beautiful humanity and rediscover His concern, not only for us in a spiritual sense, but in a very human sense in our very human needs.