As Christians we can use the interruptions of life as opportunities to do good
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. — Mark 6:30-44
Jesus used interruptions as opportunities to help people and to teach them about a God who loves them. He calls us to also have compassion, but not the kind that says “I feel so bad for that person,” and then move on without helping. We are to reach out and touch lives, give help, make a difference in the lives of the people with whom we come into contact. That’s what compassion meant to Jesus.
In the above text, Jesus decided to take his disciples to a quiet place so that they could have a time out.
The disciples had only just returned from their mission of proclaiming the gospel to the people of the surrounding region. They had been given power to preach repentance, cast out demons and heal the sick.
Consequently, they needed a time out, a moment to debrief and to refocus. Jesus decided that they go to a quiet place away from the crowd to get some rest. To get there, they went by boat.
However, the people saw them go and, therefore, they told others and hurried on foot around the lake, to follow Jesus. Scripture tells us that, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”
This incident in the Gospel lets us see how Jesus dealt with an unexpected interruption. He had gone to that quiet place to have a quiet moment with his disciples. Notwithstanding the interruption, he did not become annoyed.
We have unexpected interruptions in our lives also. By emulating Jesus, we too can deal with the interruptions of life without getting angry or feeling imposed upon. Like Jesus, we can use our interruptions as opportunities to change lives.
Looking at the crowd, Jesus’ only emotion was compassion. When Scripture tells us that Jesus had compassion, it meant that he had to stop and give relief. His compassion was not like ours where we feel sorry for the individual and then go about our business.
The people needed Jesus to take time out from his rest because he was their ray of hope. They had come, a huge multitude, about 5,000 just to see him, to sit at his feet, to hear his words — to be renewed, to be healed, to be refocused.
The interruptions we experience in life are normally annoying. We don’t like them. We are often interrupted at work and at home. Most of the time interruptions at home come from our family, or someone who decides to drop in unannounced or call at the most inopportune time.
Most of the time people don’t interrupt us because they want to cause us grief. They do so because they need our time. When someone says he or she needs you, find time to give to them.
It might be the difference between life and death. They will seldom interrupt if they are not in desperate need of our time and consolation.
Jesus never seemed too busy for interruptions. He responded to the cries of the 10 lepers and to blind Bartimaeus. On his way to Jairus’s house he was interrupted by a desperate woman whom he gave relief and new hope. He found time to speak with an evening visitor, Nicodemus.
He answered Martha’s complaints about her sister, Mary.
When Jesus saw the crowd, although they were interrupting his quiet moment, he saw their needs. Jesus saw the people who had come to him as being lost, confused and vulnerable. They were frightened, anxious, and defenseless.
Many of us have need that only our Lord can solve. When we call on him, he hears our cries and quiet our fears. As Christians, we can use the interruptions of life as opportunities to do good. Amen.
- Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at the Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas or telephone 323-4107; E-mail: [email protected].