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03.04.18 Resting to Work Mark 6:30-44 Sermon Summary

by on March 5, 2018

Note: This sermon was delivered in first person as a member of the crowd.

We were coming from all directions.

Jesus had sent out his disciples into the countryside surrounding his hometown. He needed a reboot. See, he had come to his hometown after teaching and healing all around. But his hometown rejected him. Familiarity breeds contempt, you know, so those who knew him from childhood couldn’t believe Jesus was anything more than Joseph the carpenter’s son. Here he was proclaiming “the kingdom of God” and healing folks—but not in Nazareth.

So to kind of restart things, he sent out his disciples. He gave them authority over unclean spirits, and they proclaimed the good news. They were good at it also. So good that when they returned to Jesus, a bunch of us followed them.

Well, it worked! The message of Jesus—that the kingdom of God was near and that God’s healing of the world had begun—really took off. Jesus was in high spirits. But his disciples were tired. So they took off across the lake, I suppose to get some quiet time.

But a bunch of us figured it out. We hustled around to the other side, telling everyone we met why. And when Jesus and his disciples landed on the shore, we were there—a whole crowd of us.

Our lives had become routine. Fishing, baking, shepherding. Parenting, avoiding the Romans, praying. Pilgrimages to Jerusalem for religious festivals. It was all so—what you would call the rat race. We were just “doing life” instead of “living life.” We were like sheep without a shepherd, making our own way, getting hopelessly lost without realizing it.

So we flocked to Jesus, even though he was in a deserted place. Obviously he wanted to be alone with his disciples, to give them a break and to hear their stories. Jesus knew how hard it was to proclaim the good news despite such uncertain times. He knew the challenge of keeping peoples’ spirits up when there was so much anxiety and fear. It’s really hard to encourage people week in and week out when the daily news is so disheartening.

After all, he has just been slammed by his hometown, no less. And before that, even his family came to pull him aside because even they didn’t understand his mission. So when the disciples came back from their first missionary activity, he knew they needed some rest. He took them to a desolate place.

But it wasn’t desolate, because we were all there. He came ashore, and even though his disciples were worn out, Jesus really wasn’t so much. So he took one look at us and started teaching. All day he taught. And we were so hungry for spiritual truth that we just sat and listened. We soaked it in.

The day wore on, and as it got later people became a little restless. We had been spiritually fed but our bodies were getting weak. Here we were in this deserted place and away from home. And we were getting hungry.

Jesus kept right on teaching. It was like he wasn’t even aware. Apparently this happened a lot with him. He taught and healed and forgot to eat in his enthusiasm. Eventually his disciples came to him and reminded him that it was late and that maybe we should be dismissed to go eat and head home.

Things got a little chaotic at this point. Jesus started talking back and forth with his disciples while we became increasingly aware of our hunger. Some disciples kept talking with Jesus and the other ones told us to sit down in groups.

We asked them why, but they couldn’t really answer. It felt like being on hold, where the computer voice says, “thank you for your patience, a representative will be with you momentarily.” So we sat. And we waited.

Then we see Jesus take a small amount of bread and some fish, give thanks to God, and hand them to the disciples. They began to distribute it to those nearest him. Then the most amazing thing happened.

All that teaching that Jesus had done all day—about how God was providential and even more, generous. How God had called each of us and given us a purpose. How God desired to transform our communities through us. All those lessons seemed to materialize right before our eyes.

We saw Jesus take the little bit of food he had, give thanks to God, and share it. Then those of us who had some food did the same thing. We gave thanks to God and shared it with those around us. A bit of bread here. A shared fish there.

Later someone said there were 5000 men there. I saw some women and children, too. And would you believe that after Jesus’ teaching and demonstrating God’s generosity, none of us was hungry spiritually or physically! In fact, sharing our physical needs actually enhanced our spiritual satisfaction.

Here’s what I learned that day. I learned that Jesus had some incredible things to teach about God. He made God so real, like sun in my eyes and dust in my mouth real. I learned that Jesus really believed what he taught. When he taught that loving God with our whole heart and loving our neighbors as our selves would change the world, he believed it! When he taught that the greatest person was the servant of all, he believed it!

That was why he took what was given him, a few loaves and fish, and began sharing it with those closest to him. When we followed not only his teaching but his example, everyone was fed. All of the sudden everything we had, not just food but everything, became an opportunity to participate in God’s love of the world. We could share what we had, and in doing so, participate in the life of God like Jesus did.

My life took a new turn that day. I became more grateful for what God had given me. I gave thanks for my job, for my health, for my community. I began to think about ways I could share what God had given me. I looked to needy people not as a nuisance, but as an opportunity.

Jesus looked at us with compassion. He shared what he knew and what he had with us. I began to look at others with compassion. I began to follow Jesus. I wanted to share what I knew and what I had with others.

Who knows? Maybe the lives of 5000 plus people will be blessed because of my following Jesus. All I can tell you is that my life of one has been blessed by doing so. I pray your life, and the lives of many others, will be blessed also. Amen.

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