Responding to a BIG need.
I thought I’d share a part of Mark 6 that stuck with me this time through. It is in the story of the feeding of the five thousand (and just before it). The miracle of feeding that many people is amazing in itself, but it is heart behind it that I caught my attention most. I have copied the passage below and highlighted the different areas.
First in Green, Jesus takes his disciples away to be alone with him where they can rest. Although they never get to have that rest the intention is something that I think we need to make a priority in our own lives. We need to spend time alone with Jesus. We need to take a passage… let’s say this one and get away from things that might distract us and spend time listening to and searching out what God might be saying to us through it. Maybe some of you can share how you might do this in your own lives in the midst of busy lives.
In red, we see how Jesus responds to a difficult situation. On his way to rest, Jesus sees a large crowd of people. That’s the first thing I think we need to take away from this passage… that he actually sees them (we might think, uh it’s 5000 + people I’m sure we would see them). I believe however that we often don’t see, or maybe choose not to, because what could we do anyway in a situation of such need. The next thing he does, is have compassion. This is where it gets difficult, because it’s a step further into the situation. It’s a feeling in the gut… like getting punched. It’s as if there’s no turning back at this point because you’ve connected with the hurt or need.
Now we look at the disciples response in blue. They see the crowd and they approach Jesus who has engaged this group of people and they respond, by saying, “Send the people away.” I want to think that I don’t do this, but I’m sure I do in different ways. One is to ignore it… not let it get to another level, not connect with the need… it’s easier to turn a person away that way. But the example Jesus gives us is to connect, let the experience enter not only into our minds, but heart and gut. Jesus tells the disciples to feed them and they respond… “Are we to go and spend that much?” How much does Jesus expect us to give? I have to be honest and say that in the midst of such an enormous need I’m afraid it’s probably easier to say, it’s so huge as they did… 8 months salary and say what difference does it make. No wonder they didn’t want to connect. They had just went on a long missionary journey, they were tired and they were interrupted. Send them away is easier, no doubt.
Jesus responds again, “How many loaves do you have?” So if we’re following the example of Jesus, we need to see the need, we need to have compassion, and we need to see what we have that can help alleviate the pain of the situation. The disciples saw the huge problem in front of them. Jesus said, what do we have to work with.
I think that’s all he asks of us as well. When we find ourselves faced with homelessness, family situations, death, hurt, and our first thought is… I can’t take on something that big, we need to respond with, what has God given me to help meet this need. Thank God that he’s given us that (even if it’s a small thing) and step into the situation with faith that he’ll work.
How do you keep the enormity of a situation/need in front of you instead of avoiding it?
Mark 6:31 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.”
Mark 6:32 ¶ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
Mark 6:33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.
Mark 6:34 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 6:35 ¶ By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late.
Mark 6:36 Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
Mark 6:37 ¶ But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” ¶ They said to him, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
Mark 6:38 ¶ “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” ¶ When they found out, they said, “Five — and two fish.”
Mark 6:39 ¶ Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.
Mark 6:40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.
Mark 6:41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.
Mark 6:42 They all ate and were satisfied,
Mark 6:43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.
Mark 6:44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.