Are You Moved to Act as Jesus Was?
“He saw a great crowd, but he was moved with pity for them, because they were as sheep without a shepherd. And he started to teach them.”—MARK 6:34.
1. Why is it understandable that individuals display admirable qualities?
DOWN through history many individuals have manifested admirable qualities. You can understand why. Jehovah God possesses and displays love, kindness, generosity, and other qualities that we esteem. Humans were created in God’s image. So we can appreciate why many would show a degree of love, kindness, compassion, and other divine qualities, even as most reflect a conscience. (Genesis 1:26; Romans 2:14, 15) You may realize, though, that some display these qualities more readily than others.
2. What are some good works that people may perform, perhaps feeling that they are imitating Christ?
2 Probably you are acquainted with men and women who often visit or aid the sick, show compassion to the handicapped, or give generously to the poor. Think, too, of individuals whose compassion moves them to expend their lives working in leper colonies or orphanages, those who do volunteer work in hospitals or hospices, or people who strive to assist the homeless or those who are refugees. Likely, some of them feel that they are imitating Jesus, who set the pattern for Christians. We read in the Gospels that Christ healed the sick and fed the hungry. (Mark 1:34; 8:1-9; Luke 4:40) Jesus’ displays of love, tenderness, and compassion are reflections of “the mind of Christ,” who in turn was imitating his heavenly Father.—1 Corinthians 2:16.
3. To have a balanced view of Jesus’ good works, what do we need to consider?
3 Have you observed, though, that today many of those touched by Jesus’ love and compassion overlook a key feature of the mind of Christ? We can gain insight into this by a careful consideration of Mark chapter 6. We read there that people brought the sick to Jesus to be healed. In the context, we also learn that upon seeing that the thousands who had come to him had grown hungry, Jesus fed them miraculously. (Mark 6:35-44, 54-56) Healing the sick and feeding the hungry were outstanding displays of loving compassion, but were they the primary ways in which Jesus helped others? And how can we best imitate his perfect example of love, kindness, and compassion, even as he imitated Jehovah?
Moved to Respond to Spiritual Needs
4. What was the setting for the account at Mark 6:30-34?
4 Jesus felt pity for those around him primarily because of their spiritual needs. Those needs were of chief importance, more so than physical needs. Consider the account at Mark 6:30-34. The incident recorded there took place on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, close to the time of the Passover in 32 C.E. The apostles were excited, and for good reason. Having just completed an extensive tour, they came to Jesus, no doubt eager to tell him their experiences. However, a crowd gathered. It was so large that Jesus and his apostles could neither eat nor rest. Jesus told the apostles: “Come, you yourselves, privately into a lonely place and rest up a bit.” (Mark 6:31) Boarding a boat, probably near Capernaum, they sailed across the Sea of Galilee to a quiet place. But the crowd ran along the shore and arrived ahead of the boat. How would Jesus respond? Was he upset that his privacy was disturbed? Not at all!
5. How did Jesus feel toward the crowds that came to him, and what did he do in response?
5 Jesus’ heart was touched by the sight of this crowd of thousands, including sick ones, who eagerly awaited him. (Matthew 14:14; Mark 6:44) Focusing on what aroused Jesus’ compassion and how He responded, Mark wrote: “He saw a great crowd, but he was moved with pity for them, because they were as sheep without a shepherd. And he started to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34) Jesus saw more than a mass of people. He saw individuals having spiritual needs. They were like sheep straying helplessly, having no shepherd to guide them to green pastures or to protect them. Jesus knew that the coldhearted religious leaders, who were supposed to be caring shepherds, actually despised the common people and neglected their spiritual needs. (Ezekiel 34:2-4; John 7:47-49) Jesus would treat them differently, doing the greatest possible good for them. He began teaching them about God’s Kingdom.
6, 7. (a) The Gospels reveal what priority in Jesus’ response to the people’s needs? (b) With what motivation did Jesus preach and teach?
6 Notice the sequence and the suggestion of priority evident in a parallel account. This was written by Luke, who was a physician and keenly interested in the physical well-being of others. “The crowds . . . followed [Jesus]. And he received them kindly and began to speak to them about the kingdom of God, and he healed those needing a cure.” (Luke 9:11; Colossians 4:14) Though it is not so with every account of a miracle, in this case, what did Luke’s inspired account note first? It was the fact that Jesus taught the people.
7 This actually agrees with the emphasis that we find at Mark 6:34. That verse clearly shows how Jesus was principally moved to express his pity. He taught the people, responding to their spiritual needs. Earlier in his ministry, Jesus had said: “To other cities I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.” (Luke 4:43) Still, we would be mistaken if we thought that Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom message out of mere duty, as if he perfunctorily went through the motions of the preaching work that he had to do. No, his loving compassion for the people was a key motivation for his sharing the good news with them. The ultimate good that Jesus could do—even for the sick, the demon afflicted, the poor, or the hungry—was to help them to know, accept, and love the truth about God’s Kingdom. That truth was of central importance because of the role of the Kingdom in vindicating Jehovah’s sovereignty and providing permanent blessings for humans.
8. How did Jesus feel about his preaching and teaching?
8 Jesus’ active preaching about the Kingdom was at the core of the reason why he came to earth. Near the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus told Pilate: “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone that is on the side of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37) We have noted in the two preceding articles that Jesus was a person of tender feelings—caring, approachable, considerate, trusting, and above all, loving. We need to appreciate those aspects of his personality if we truly want to understand the mind of Christ. It is equally important to realize that the mind of Christ includes the priority he placed on his preaching and teaching work.
He Urged Others to Witness
9. For whom was preaching and teaching to have priority?
9 Priority put on preaching and teaching—as an expression of love and compassion—was not for Jesus alone. He urged his followers to imitate his motives, priorities, and actions. For instance, after Jesus selected his 12 apostles, what were they to do? Mark 3:14, 15 tells us: “He formed a group of twelve, whom he also named ‘apostles,’ that they might continue with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to expel the demons.” Do you see any priority for the apostles?
10, 11. (a) When sending out the apostles, what did Jesus tell them to do? (b) In the setting of sending out the apostles, what was the focus?
10 In time, Jesus did enable the 12 to heal others and to expel demons. (Matthew 10:1; Luke 9:1) He then sent them on a tour to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” To do what? Jesus directed them: “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’ Cure sick people, raise up dead persons, make lepers clean, expel demons.” (Matthew 10:5-8; Luke 9:2) What, in fact, did they do? “So they set out and  preached in order that people might repent; and  they would expel many demons and grease many sickly people with oil and cure them.”—Mark 6:12, 13.
11 Since teaching is not in every instance mentioned first, is noting the above sequence reading too much into the matter of priorities or the motives involved? (Luke 10:1-9) Well, we should not discount the frequency with which teaching is mentioned before healing. Consider the context in this case. Just before sending out the 12 apostles, Jesus had been touched by the condition of the crowds. We read: “Jesus set out on a tour of all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity. On seeing the crowds he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples: ‘Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.’”—Matthew 9:35-38.
12. The miraculous works of Jesus and the apostles could serve what additional purpose?
12 By being with him, the apostles could absorb some of the mind of Christ. They could sense that their being truly loving and compassionate toward people included preaching and teaching about the Kingdom—that was to be a principal aspect of their good works. In line with that, the fine deeds of a physical nature, such as healing the sick, did more than help the needy. As you can imagine, some people might be drawn by cures and miraculously provided food. (Matthew 4:24, 25; 8:16; 9:32, 33; 14:35, 36; John 6:26) Beyond being of physical help, however, those works actually moved observers to recognize that Jesus was the Son of God and “the prophet” that Moses had foretold.—John 6:14; Deuteronomy 18:15.
13. The prophecy at Deuteronomy 18:18 stressed what role for “the prophet” to come?
13 Why was it significant that Jesus was “the prophet”? Well, what was the key role foretold for that one? Was “the prophet” to be famous for performing miraculous healings or compassionately producing food for the hungry? Deuteronomy 18:18 predicted: “A prophet I shall raise up for them from the midst of their brothers, like you [Moses]; and I shall indeed put my words in his mouth, and he will certainly speak to them all that I shall command him.” So even as the apostles learned to have and express tender feelings, they could conclude that the mind of Christ was to be evidenced also in their preaching and teaching activity. That would be the very best that they could do for people. By that means, the sick and the poor could gain permanent benefits, not just those limited to a short human life span or a meal or two.—John 6:26-30.
Develop the Mind of Christ Today
14. How is having the mind of Christ involved in our preaching?
14 None of us would view the mind of Christ as unique to the first century—to Jesus and the early disciples of whom the apostle Paul wrote: “We do have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) And we would readily admit that we are obliged to preach the good news and to make disciples. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Yet, it is beneficial to reflect on our own motives for doing that work. It should not be out of a mere sense of duty. Love for God is a primary reason why we share in the ministry, and truly being like Jesus includes being moved by compassion to preach and teach.—Matthew 22:37-39.
15. Why is compassion an appropriate part of our public ministry?
15 Granted, it is not always easy to feel compassion for those who do not share our beliefs, especially when we encounter apathy, rejection, or opposition. Yet, if we were to lose our love and compassion for people, we could lose a vital motivation for sharing in the Christian ministry. How, then, may we cultivate compassion? We can try to see people as Jesus saw them, as “skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) Does that not describe many today? They have been neglected and blinded spiritually by false religious shepherds. As a result, they do not know of the sound guidance found in the Bible nor of the Paradise conditions that God’s Kingdom will soon bring to our earth. They face the problems of daily life—including poverty, family discord, sickness, and death—without having the Kingdom hope. We have what they need: the life-saving good news of God’s Kingdom now established in heaven!
16. Why should we want to share the good news with others?
16 When you thus ponder the spiritual needs of those around you, does not your heart move you to want to do all you can to tell them about God’s loving purpose? Yes, ours is a work of compassion. When we feel for people as Jesus did, it will be evident in our tone of voice, our facial expression, our manner of teaching. All of that will make our message more appealing to those who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life.”—Acts 13:48.
17. (a) What are some ways in which we can display our love and compassion for others? (b) Why is it not a matter of either doing good works or sharing in the public ministry?
17 Our love and compassion should, of course, be manifest in our whole life course. This includes our being kind to the disadvantaged, sick, and poor—doing what we reasonably can to relieve their suffering. It encompasses our efforts in word and deed to dispel the grief of those who have lost loved ones in death. (Luke 7:11-15; John 11:33-35) Yet, such manifestations of love, kindness, and compassion must not become the main focus of our good works, as they are with some humanitarians. Of much more lasting significance are efforts motivated by similar divine qualities but manifested in sharing in the work of Christian preaching and teaching. Recall what Jesus said about the Jewish religious leaders: “You give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin, but you have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These things it was binding to do, yet not to disregard the other things.” (Matthew 23:23) With Jesus it was not one or the other—either helping people with their physical needs or teaching them life-giving spiritual matters. Jesus did both. Still, it is clear that his teaching work was foremost because the good he thus accomplished could be of everlasting help.—John 20:16.
18. To what should our considering the mind of Christ move us?
18 How grateful we can be that Jehovah has revealed the mind of Christ to us! By means of the Gospels, we can come to know better the thoughts, feelings, qualities, activities, and priorities of the greatest man who ever lived. It is up to us to read, meditate upon, and put into practice what the Bible reveals about Jesus. Remember, if we are truly to act like Jesus, we must first learn to think, feel, and evaluate matters as he did, to the best of our ability as imperfect humans. Let us, then, be determined to cultivate and demonstrate the mind of Christ. There is no better way to live, no better way to treat people, and no better way for us and others to draw close to the one whom he perfectly reflected, our tender God, Jehovah.—2 Corinthians 1:3; Hebrews 1:3.
How Would You Respond?
• What insight does the Bible offer into how Jesus often responded to people in need?
• What did Jesus stress in directing his followers?
• How can we manifest “the mind of Christ” in our activities?
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What is the greatest good that Christians can do for others?