Sunday, December 29, 2013

Just When You Need a Break (Mark 6:30-44)

I heard a sermon today from Nehemiah chapter six. It had four points, inspired by Nehemiah’s determination to complete his God-given task in the face of tremendous opposition: God provides the power. God provides the courage. God provides the discernment. And God sees His plans completed. This is the sort of message we say we believe as followers of Jesus. The question we need to ask is, how good are we at living what we believe.

Jesus is a good example for us in this regard. Even though He is God, in the incarnation He became fully man too. His ministry on earth was not the work of a superhuman. He was tapped into God’s power in a way that we all should be capable. In this passage in Mark we see how Jesus responded to the Call when He was at the end of His capabilities.

Another Gospel tells us here that Jesus had just heard of John’s fate as the disciples were returning from their mission. That news alone would be enough to put most of us out of commission for a while. Mark lets us know that they all needed a good break anyway. They couldn’t even get a moment’s peace to eat a bite! However, when they tried to get away, the crowds followed.

Today, we would pull Jesus aside and give Him a good talking to about the dangers of burn-out. How He was only going to make Himself sick or open Himself up to temptation. Jesus instead tapped into a power that was beyond humanity, beyond burn-out, beyond the mundane.

He shepherded the crowds and when they couldn’t take any more in, when the crowds were at the end of their capacity, He looked to provide for those needs as well. The image of Jesus feeding the masses with a tiny portion of food is the perfect image for what God wants to accomplish though His people. He wants to work powerfully through our weakness—through our inability—in His all-sufficient power.

This story triggers a lot of questions. What calling are we following? Is it big enough to be from God? Is it beyond our capabilities, or merely a little thing we dare to offer in our own power? Are we about God’s tasks, or merely deluding ourselves into thinking our plans are God-sized?

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