This morning I was reading Mark 6. It raises the question: What is our role, our importance in the Kingdom?
In verses 7-13, it says that Jesus sent the 12 disciples out, giving them authority over the unclean spirits. They went out and proclaimed that people should repent. They cast out demons. They healed people who were sick.
They had been watching Jesus do all of that, now THEY had that power. Now they were acting like Jesus. People flocking to them. People clinging to them. Miracles happening at their command. Pretty exciting stuff.
Talk about payback, perks, for faithfully following Jesus. They now were given this kind of power. They had people’s attention.
They returned to Jesus and told Jesus all that they had done and taught. (Everyone likes to give their director a stellar report of their accomplishments.)
Jesus knew they were tired, exhausted from all of it. So Jesus decides to give them a vacation.
Jesus 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.'”
However, when they got to the other side of the sea–to rest–crowds of people had seen them coming and were waiting.
What did Jesus do? “He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”
Jesus received the crowd and taught them until it “grew late.” The disciples were still waiting for their vacation! Perhaps they thought Jesus cared more about this crowd of people than themselves.
The disciples decided it was time to speak up. They came to Jesus and asked him to send everyone away, to go get food for themselves.
Instead, Jesus created food out of loaves and fish, and turned the disciples into servers, waiters.
Jesus asked these 12 to serve this food to thousands of people. They still weren’t done. Jesus then asked them to do “clean up.” Each one collected a full basket of broken pieces.
The disciples were so exhausted, and perhaps angry that Jesus required this of them. Jesus sent the disciples away in the boat, while he dismissed the crowds.
Why do I think they were angry? Later in the chapter it says that the disciples did not understand about the loaves and their hearts were “hardened.”
The disciples went from preaching, healing the sick, casting out demons (exciting stuff), to distributing food and doing clean up (tedious, no glamour in that, a job anyone could do).
When THEY were preaching, healing, casting out demons it was all miraculous.
When they were serving food, it was still a miracle, but there was no joy in it for them. They were no longer focused on the other people or on Jesus. Now it was all about themselves.
The disciples were finally able to leave. But life wasn’t getting any better. They are trying to row their way across the sea with a strong wind against them, and they were not making progress. Exhausted and now at the limit of their frustration. Jesus saw them and intended to pass by them. Why?
Maybe to let them stew in their anger. Let them deal with things on their own for a while and sort it out. Let them see the limit of their own power…what they could and could not accomplish on their own.
They saw Jesus and became terrified. So once again, Jesus shows compassion. “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Jesus got into the boat and the wind stopped.
The disciples reaction? “they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were heartened.” v 52
They were shocked by Jesus’ power? Didn’t they just see Jesus feed more than 5,000 people? They weren’t focused on Jesus or his power. Instead, they were likely really frustrated with Jesus.
Do you ever get angry over what God asks of you? Over lack of recognition? Over lack of personal progress or opportunity?
For me…I can easily get caught up in my goals, my accomplishments, my stuff. I–I–my–my–I.
At that point, I need a reset. I need to move my eyes off of myself, back to Jesus and what he wants to do.
I read a book recently that said it well. “When Jesus isn’t enough, nothing else is.” Nothing else is going to satisfy. We chase after goals, accomplishments, and they’re never enough. Only Jesus is enough. Nothing else brings contentment.
If you need this to sink into your heart, Philippians is a great book to study. Write down everything it says about contentment, how to approach work, humility, what goals to pursue, what God promises us, gives us.
Let us abide in Jesus. Let us abide in his love. He says, “that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be full.” John 15:11 Only Jesus is enough. Abide in his love.