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Mark 6:34 & meaning...


came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.

Mark 6:34


Mark 6 [30.] The apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus, and they told him all things, whatever they had done, and whatever they had taught. He said to them, “You come apart into a deserted place, and rest awhile.” For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. They went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. They saw them going, and many recognized him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to him. Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things. When it was late in the day, his disciples came to him, and said, “This place is deserted, and it is late in the day. Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages, and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat.”

Mark 6 [37.] But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.”

They asked him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii[b] worth of bread, and give them something to eat?”

Mark 6 [38.] He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go see.”

When they knew, they said, “Five, and two fish.”

Mark 6 [39.] He commanded them that everyone should sit down in groups on the green grass. They sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties. He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves, and he gave to his disciples to set before them, and he divided the two fish among them all. They all ate, and were filled.


This verse occurs in the context of Jesus and His disciples seeking a time of rest and solitude, only to be followed by a large crowd. Moved by compassion, Jesus takes the opportunity to teach and minister to the people. 

Seeking Rest: In Mark 6:30-33, Jesus and His disciples are looking for a secluded place to rest after their ministry efforts. They are physically and likely emotionally exhausted from their work.

The Crowds Follow: Despite their efforts to find solitude, the crowds recognize them and follow, eager to hear more from Jesus and be in His presence.

  • Key Elements of the Verse:

Compassion: Jesus’ response to the crowd is one of compassion. The Greek word used here, "splagchnizomai," suggests a deep, gut-wrenching empathy and concern.

Sheep Without a Shepherd: This phrase indicates that the people are lost, vulnerable, and in need of guidance and care. It reflects their spiritual and perhaps also their social and physical needs.

Teaching Many Things: Jesus responds to their need by teaching them, addressing their spiritual hunger and offering them the guidance they desperately need.

Theological Significance

  • Jesus as the Compassionate Shepherd:

God’s Compassion: Jesus’ compassion reflects the heart of God. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus’ actions consistently demonstrate God’s love and care for humanity.

Shepherd Imagery: The imagery of sheep without a shepherd is significant in biblical literature. It echoes Old Testament references to God as the shepherd of Israel (e.g., Psalm 23) and critiques of failed leadership (e.g., Ezekiel 34:6). Jesus positions Himself as the true shepherd who cares for His flock.

  • Role of Teaching:

Spiritual Nourishment: Jesus’ teaching is essential for the spiritual nourishment of the people. He addresses their deeper needs, offering wisdom, guidance, and truth.

Priority of Ministry: Even when seeking rest, Jesus prioritizes ministering to those in need. His compassion drives Him to serve, illustrating the selfless nature of His mission.

Applications for Our Lives

  • Embodying Compassion:

Develop Empathy: Like Jesus, we are called to have compassion for others. This means developing a deep empathy for those who are lost, hurting, or in need.

Active Response: Compassion should lead to action. Look for ways to meet the needs of those around you, whether through acts of kindness, support, or sharing God’s love and truth.

  • Providing Spiritual Guidance:

Teach and Mentor: If you are in a position to do so, offer guidance and teaching to those who are seeking. This can be in formal settings, like a Bible study, or informally, through conversations and mentorship.

Point to Jesus: Always point others to Jesus, the ultimate shepherd. Share His teachings and exemplify His love in your interactions.

  • Balancing Rest and Service:

Self-Care and Ministry: While it’s important to rest and care for ourselves, be open to God’s leading when He presents opportunities to serve others. Seek a balance that allows for personal renewal and active ministry.

Community Support: Engage with your community of faith to support one another in both rest and service. Encourage each other to find times of retreat as well as opportunities to minister together.


Matthew 9:36: "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were harassed and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd." This parallel verse reinforces Jesus’ compassion for the people and their need for guidance.

John 10:11: "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." Jesus explicitly identifies Himself as the Good Shepherd, highlighting His commitment to caring for and sacrificing for His flock.

Psalm 23:1-3: "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake." This beloved psalm beautifully captures the care and guidance of God as our shepherd, a role Jesus fulfills.

Conclusion: Mark 6:34 encapsulates the heart of Jesus’ ministry: compassion and teaching. Jesus’ deep empathy for the crowds moves Him to provide the spiritual guidance they so desperately need, even at a time when He and His disciples sought rest. This verse challenges us to develop a similar compassion for others, to be attentive to their needs, and to respond by offering guidance and support.

As we reflect on Jesus as the compassionate shepherd, we are encouraged to trust in His care for us and to follow His example in our own lives. Whether through teaching, acts of kindness, or simply being present for those in need, we can embody the love and compassion of Jesus, pointing others to the Good Shepherd who meets all our needs and guides us with unfailing love.

leader - saved - shepherd

PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible


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