Summer is when many people take time off from their regular routine—a trip across the globe, a cruise, or just stay home and turn off the phone. We all look for an opportunity to rest awhile.
Jesus was no different. He wanted some private time with His Apostles. No doubt that they had worked hard in the ministry, taking care of people. Not Vegas, or Reno, or Broadway shows—just some alone time. Rumors can travel faster than the speed of light. Folks found out where Jesus was headed and beat Him to His destination. Most people would have gotten angry. Imagine going somewhere to rest and all the people you work with are there to meet you. “We can’t be without you, they say. We need you. Please take care of us.” Every caregiver knows that taking care of people can be draining. Comes a time when we don’t want to see another hospital bed, another law suit, no more unsatisfied customer complaints. We just want peace and quiet. However, when we are in the people business, when can we say that we’ve done enough? Can we ever pretend that we have finished? A shepherd’s work is never finished. Jesus used the imagery of sheep and a shepherd for a reason. Sheep are helpless without the shepherd. Their survival depends on the shepherd’s care. If the shepherd doesn’t care, the sheep will scatter—they might even be killed. The folks who were looking for Jesus reminded Him of sheep without a shepherd—that means lost. Know anyone like that? Does the description remind us of anyone? Perhaps the person we see in the mirror, or members of our family, maybe close friends. Sheep without a shepherd are not uncommon. They can resort to substance abuse, crime, might end up in jail.
The wolf is always on the prowl. The wolf is the devil that enjoys confusion. Evil sees that there is disunity among the sheep and creates more by raising suspicion among them. If the wolf can get one sheep to leave the security of the fold, then he can kill it. Isolation happens when a person feels low self-esteem—like there’s no tomorrow—as if they cannot be forgiven. When a person does not want to talk with anyone, isolation happens. The unhealthiest person is the one with the most secrets. The wolf delights when the sheep are isolated.
The vast crowd that Jesus saw was filled with problems. However, their saving grace was they knew that Jesus was their solution. The crowd was smart enough to recognize that they could not handle their problems alone—a major step! The image of the Texano dances in Falfurrias come to mind. When I was a child my parents and grandparents would take me to the VFW where we witnessed couples dancing the “Taquachito”. The couples would go around in a circle on the dance floor. Of particular interest were the very old couples who seemed to hang on one another. I would ask my Grandmother—Is that man pushing the lady or is the lady pulling the man? My Grandmother would tell me not to ask such questions. The dance of life is similar to what happened at the VFW. Sometimes we pull one another. Other times we have to push. Not a good idea to dance alone. There is strength in numbers. The One who unites us in perfect harmony is Christ. Yes, people inevitably step on each other. “Excuse me, pardon me, forgive me.” But keep dancing—don’t get angry—don’t go away—don’t give up on the dance—don’t give up on life.
We need each other and we need the Shepherd. Jesus takes pity on us and is ready to teach us many things. The Lord never looses patience with us.