Chip Stapleton Highland Presbyterian Church Hunkered Down Devotions March 19th, 2020
Mark 6:30-46 The Voice (VOICE)
30 Now the twelve returned from their travels and told Him what they had done, whom they had seen, and how they had spread the news of God’s kingdom.
Jesus (to the disciples): 31 Let us go out into the wilderness for a while and rest ourselves.
The crowds gathered as always, and Jesus and the twelve couldn’t eat because so many people came and went. 32 They could get no peace until they boarded a boat and sailed toward a deserted place.
33 But the people would not be put off so easily. Those along the shore who recognized Jesus followed along the coast. People pushed out of all the cities and gathered ahead of Him 34 so that when Jesus came ashore and saw this crowd of people waiting for Him in a place that should have been relatively deserted, He was moved with compassion. They were like sheep without a shepherd.
He began to teach them many things 35 as the day passed; at last the disciples came to Jesus.
Disciples: It is getting late, and there is nothing around for miles. 36 Send these people to the surrounding villages so they can buy something to eat.
Jesus: 37 Why don’t you give them something to eat?
Disciples (looking at Him): What? It would cost a fortune[a] to buy bread for these people!
Jesus: 38 Does anyone have any bread? Go and see.
Disciples (returning from the crowd): There are five pieces of flatbread and two fish, if that makes any difference.
Jesus: 39-40 Listen, tell them to gather in smaller groups and sit on that green patch of grass.
And so the disciples gathered the people in groups of 100 or of 50, and they sat down.
41 Jesus took the five pieces of flatbread and the two fish, looked up to heaven, thanked God for the food, and broke it. He gave the pieces to the disciples to distribute, 42 and all of the people ate until no one was hungry. 43 Then they gathered twelve baskets full of leftovers.
44 That day, 5,000 men ate their fill of the bread when Jesus fed the hungry crowd.
45 Not long after, He sent His disciples out onto their boat to sail to Bethsaida on the other shore, and He sent the crowd away. 46 After everyone had gone, He slipped away to pray on a mountain overlooking the sea.
There is so much going on in this gospel passage from Mark that I almost didn’t pick it to write about today – because how could I keep it short? I will do my best!
Of all the miracle stories of Jesus in the Bible the feeding ones are my favorite, mostly because they remind me that while Jesus is most definitely interested in our souls and our hearts and minds, he also cares about our bodies and whether or not we have enough to eat.
As we go through all of this upheaval together, don’t – not for one second – think that God doesn’t care about it, or that Jesus thinks this doesn’t matter. Jesus cared about what his followers were going to eat, and he most definitely cares about what we are going through now. The incarnation (God coming to be with us in and through Jesus Christ) is all about God’s promise to be with us as we go through whatever comes at us in this life.
There is one other thing that struck me today as I was reading this passage. We usually kind of skip over the beginning part of this passage (or, at least I do), and head straight to Jesus teaching and feeding his followers.
But, I think there is an important lesson for us found before we even get to the miracle of the multiplying loaves and fishes.
In verse 31, Jesus tells the disciples that it is time for a bit of rest and relaxation out in the wilderness – they have been working the crowds and in the midst of mission and ministry and were all worn out.
In an attempt to get away from the crowds that were, at this point, almost always following them they hopped in a boat and retreated across the lake to a more deserted place. But, as our scripture says, ‘But the people would not be put off so easily’. They followed Jesus and wanted more.
So, instead of a time of rest away from the crowds and the demands of ministry, Jesus was again called upon to teach, to guide and the share the light and love of God. It may sound silly, but that was not the plan Jesus had for the day.
The learning for us in this comes in the form of a question: how do we respond to the detours and changes of plans that we encounter each day? Do we bristle and groan at the change of plans or do we get frustrated because things don’t go as we expected?
Or, do we look to see what God might be up to – searching for how we can share God’s light and love not in spite of, but because of, in the midst of the interruptions and changes of plans that we all face – even on ‘normal’ days.
Know this: When everything goes according to plan, God is present and at work.
When nothing goes according to plan, God is present and at work.
When life seems to be going along exactly as expected, God is present and at work.
When our whole world seems turned upside down, God is present and at work.
Simply put: God is present and at work.
Sharing God’s Love,