30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 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.”
32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 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 6:30-34
How did Jesus handle interruptions? Certainly not the way we might have done. Our first thought would have been for ourselves. We might have been irritated by people and would have wanted to escape to carry out our original plan. All we would have wanted to do was to get away from the crowd to rest and have time out alone or with our closest friends.
Not Jesus! He tried to get away from the crowds but they beat Him to it. Why didn’t He simply go somewhere else – somewhere they didn’t anticipate? He didn’t try to dodge them. Instead He welcomed them with a heart of compassion. They had no meaning and no direction in their lives and no-one to lead them. Jesus’ heart was for them, not for Himself. He put their needs above His own.
Is this what He meant when He said that a disciple is someone who denies himself? Self-denial is not just going without to adhere to some sort of rule. I think it means that we choose to put the needs of others above our own, and here is a good example of self-denial from the Master Himself.
I wonder what the disciples felt about this interruption. They were probably looking forward to a day alone with Jesus, relaxing out in the open and enjoying being away from the crowd. They must have felt frustrated, irritated and even fed-up with Jesus. Why did He have to be so accommodating?
What was the difference between Jesus and His disciples? Their first thought was for themselves and their own needs. They were tired. They needed rest. They wanted to be alone. Jesus was also tired but He saw people who needed another kind of rest much more that He needed a day off. These people were struggling under the heavy yoke of religion and legalism and it wasn’t working. They didn’t need more religion. They needed a shepherd to protect and take care of them. That is exactly what He came to do – and He was not about to miss an opportunity like this.