Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday, September 29th Mark 6:30-44

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Isaiah 59-60, Proverbs 23, 1 Timothy 4
Today's scripture focus is Mark 6:30-44

Mark 6:30-44English Standard Version (ESV)

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. 35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all.42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: The Creator Provides
Accompanying Robert Rayburn sermon: A Memorable Lesson
Accompanying David Legge sermons:  The Rhythm of Rest and Readiness in Service and The Servant's Unlimited Supplies

Today's passage continues the largest scale miracle Jesus ever performed, and is the only miracle (outside of His resurrection) that is found in all four gospels.  This was truly a mind blowing creative miracle.  No wonder the people wanted to make Him king - a king that can heal all your diseases, cast out demons, raise the dead, and can provide free food?!  It doesn't get any better than that.

Note where this miracle takes place.  Bethsaida.  The city of Andrew, Simon, Philip, and Nathaniel (John 1).  Jesus has already been here, probably a few times.  They have already witnessed His teaching and miracles - and in today's passage they see Him, once again healing people (as mentioned in the other gospel accounts) and then He does this massive miracle.  Why is this important?

Luke 10:13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
When the Great White Throne Judgment comes at the end of the world and universe as we know it, and all sinners are brought before the throne of God for their final sentencing into hell, the people who lived in Bethsaida are going to be sent to a hotter hell than the people who lived in Tyre and Sidon. That’s a pretty severe judgment. Tyre and Sidon were two Gentile cities on the north coast of Israel. The people there had descended from the Phoenicians. They had roots with the Philistines. Both cities were notoriously wicked seaports....  Tyre and Sidon, were noted for immorality, vice, Baal-worshiping idolatry, violence, crime, profanity, pride, greed, injustice, all imaginable iniquities and vices. In fact, it was such a wretched place that God pronounced through the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 25, [and] Jeremiah 47, that He was going to destroy Tyre and Sidon and He did. There was one other thing that they were guilty of, according to Amos 1:9, they were guilty of selling Jewish people as slaves.

So when Tyre and Sidon perished hundreds of years ago, they perished under the severe judgment of God. But as deserving as Tyre and Sidon were of the judgment of God, those cities would have repented in sack cloth and ashes if they had experienced the miracles that Bethsaida experienced. Bethsaida would have prided itself on being a loyal, devoted, ceremonially faithful synagogue city of Judaism. But their hell will be worse than that of Tyre and Sidon. Those self-righteous, legalistic, traditional, thrill-seeking Jews will find it worse in judgment than idolatrous pagans. To whom much is given...what?...much is required.

Now this miracle here is certainly the big reason for that judgment
How much more proof do you need?

But this is truly a picture of God as provider.

First, He provides rest for His weary disciples - though it was pretty short, only a boat ride.

Then He provides the crowd with the truth - the most important provision of all.  The majority of them were simply thrill seekers, but He welcomed them anyway, and taught them the truth, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  What happens to sheep without a shepherd?  They die. Sheep literally cannot survive without a shepherd, just like we cannot survive spiritually without God.

All the things He provides for us physically demonstrate a spiritual reality.  God has compassion for our our need of physical rest, but even more so for our spiritual rest.  He is concerned that we have relief from our physical pain, but even more so for our spiritual pain.  He wants to supply us with physical food, but even more so our spiritual nourishment.

The massive miracle demonstrates Jesus' compassion on the crowd and their need for hunger.  MacArthur points out that this is also a demonstration of common grace.
This is the most exceptional testimony to common grace in the gospel records. When we talk about common grace, we’re talking about the goodness of God without discrimination. The Lord loves His enemies and He makes the sun to shine on the just and the unjust, and the rain to fall on the just and the unjust, and He allows the crops of the believers and the non-believers to grow. And you know what common grace is, right? Even people who hate God, who reject God, who reject Christ, fall in love, have the joy of a new birth, a baby, love a baby, enjoy a sunset, enjoy a wonderful meal, take a vacation, wonder at the mountain and the rivers of this earth, enjoy the sweetness of life, the pleasures of life, all the things that God has built into life. All that common grace comes without discrimination. Nobody has to fill out an application to see a sunset. Nobody has to qualify to eat a delicious meal. Nobody has to pass some test to fall in love. All of that is part of the fabric of common grace that tells us that God is a God of goodness and grace and compassion, and wants us to delight in His provisions.

So He didn’t ask for character references before people could eat. He didn’t evaluate their motives. He took the best and the worst of them and acted in pity on everybody. He healed everybody. He fed everybody. He taught everybody. Those are the elements of common grace.

It's interesting the different perspectives on Jesus' response to the disciples in v37.  MacArthur suggests that Jesus was telling them that they had the power to do this.  He had given them authority and power to do miracles, but they just couldn't imagine doing something this massive.  Meanwhile Legge suggests that it was a reminder that they couldn't do it, and they needed Him.  Both arguments make sense to me and both rely on His power, not our own.

So, Jesus takes the five loaves (not loaves like we think of loaves, more like crackers) and two small fish, thanks the Father for the food, and He begins to create more and more as the disciples distribute the food.

Now understand, this is crackers made from barley that never was planted, and these are fish who never swam. These are fresh, dead fish who never were alive. This is the only uncursed banquet that any of those people would have ever gone to.

Was the food good? Huh, this is like eating in the Garden of Eden. These are uncursed crackers and uncursed fish. This is just an incredible thing to think about.

I had never thought of it in those terms before.

And Jesus creates exactly the right amount of food for the entire crowd to be full, with exactly 12 small baskets left over, one for each disciple.

(Side note: Ray Vanderlaan submits that the feeding of the five thousand with 12 leftover baskets represents the fact that Jesus is the bread of life for the Israelites, while the feeding of the four thousand with 7 leftover baskets represents the fact that Jesus is also the bread of life to the seven nations driven out of the Promised Land, IOW the Gentiles).

Legge submits a few lessons Jesus was teaching them in this miracle.  First, that we, in our own strength, are unable to meet the need.  Second, that we are to offer to God whatever we do have, no matter how small, no matter our weakness.  Third, that God's work must be done His way (as He directed them to sit in groups).  Fourth, that they needed to look to God in prayer for the need to be met.  Fifth, to realize that we serve the God of the impossible. Sixth, to be confident in His power to serve others.   Seventh, to be satisfied in the One who could supply to overabundance.

They needed to realise first and foremost, as we do, without Him we can do nothing - but now they're starting to be taught: we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

I love how Rayburn put it as well....

the Lord uses what we have, to do what we could not.

Many times a day you and I do not do what the Lord asks us to do or commands us to do because it does not occur to us to think that we can. He asks too much, we have too little – whatever it is that we have too little of: courage, brains, faith, love, joy, strength, self-control – we have far too little of it with which to do what the Lord is asking of us. You can't love an enemy with your five loaves and two fishes worth of tenderheartedness and humility and devotion to the Lord Christ. You can't conquer a lust with your five loaves and two fishes worth of hatred of sin, love of holiness, and zeal for the Lord's honor and name.

But the Lord never intended to feed that multitude with only that amount of food. He took that amount – which was all they had – and made it much more, sufficient to do the job and then some. And so it will be with us in your serving the Lord...

I want you to see this great miracle, in some ways the greatest of all the Lord's miracles, for what it unquestionably is: a message to us about the way in which we are to live and serve the Lord. Always depending upon him, every day, we are to take what little we have to him that he might bless and break it and so make possible much more than we ever could have done ourselves, and when that has been consumed and used, to go back to him again for a fresh supply of whatever grace it is we stand in need of to perform whatever command he has given us. It is a lesson in the Christian life and Christian service and ministry as a life of constant active dependence upon the presence, the provision, and the faithfulness of our Lord and Savior.

The next morning Jesus wasn't willing to give them breakfast.  He wanted to break past their physical need to their spiritual need, but they weren't interested, and with that massive miracle Galilee's opportunity was over.  How sad.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Mark 6:45-56
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Isaiah 61-62, Proverbs 24, 1 Timothy 5

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