Sermon on Mark 6:30-44

This sermon was delivered by Pastor Chris Duke on 25/09/2016. This article is from notes I made so is not completely in keeping with what Pastor Chris said though I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible.

I’m sure you’ve prepared a large dinner for people. In Jesus’ ministry, people are becoming used to seeing divine power coming from Him. The area we’re dealing with today concerns a miracle Jesus performed near a small village in Galilee. Galilee itself was a very tiny province, covered by water. It had around 200 small villages and towns, being an agricultural area, and was therefore densely populated.

Jesus had earlier multiplied Himself by His disciples in Mark 3:14-15, sending them forth to preach and have power to heal sicknesses and cast out devils. He thus multiplied Himself twelve times. Significantly, eleven of the twelve were from Galilee (Judas Iscariot being the exception to this).

Yet feeding five thousand was way beyond any miracle Jesus did. Matthew says that could have been up to 10,000 people in total, including women and children (see Matthew 14:21). So this was a huge crowd. It was near Passover, in the springtime, as Mark notes the company of people sat down on “green grass” (Mark 6:39). This was Jesus’ final miracle in Galilee. After this, His focus narrowed to smaller crowds as He became concerned with training the twelve more than on public ministry. Jesus is here putting Himself on display in all His glory and magnificence. We are reminded that as you read the Old Testament, it points to Christ. As you read the New Testament, it reveals Christ. And that salvation is being drawn to Christ.

John 6:14-15 describes the aftermath of Jesus’ miracle: people tried to make Him a King. They wanted the ultimate welfare state with free food provided along with demons being cast out, etc. They also wanted freedom of rule from the Roman army. With this miracle we see Jesus as Jehovah-jireh, the Lord who provides, as He did with faithful Abraham:

13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.
(Genesis 22:13-14)

Jesus is the incarnation of Jehovah-jireh.

In Mark 6:7-11 we see that Jesus sent the disciples out into the countryside. They were told to preach the Kingdom of God and repentance towards God. In verse 31 Jesus’ first task as Jehovah-jireh, the provider, is revealed, as He says effectively, “Get some rest.” This was the first provision that He made for them. Luke 9:10 mentions that He took them to Bethsaida:

10 And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.

This was a fishing village on the sea of Galilee. They went near the village but not into it as the crowd was too heavily populated and wouldn’t have fitted. The village, incidentally, was where Peter and Andrew both grew up:

44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
(John 1:44)

Christ later had something damning to say about this village after the miracle of the fishes and loaves was performed:

Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
(Matthew 11:21)

Sadly, the people of Bethsaida didn’t worship the Lord even after His miracles. We would do well at this stage to remember the old saying, “To whom much is given, much is required”:

48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
(Luke 12:48)

The only rest the disciples got was on the boat with Jesus as the people followed them across the northern part of the lake, on foot. And they arrived earlier than the disciples having completed a walk of approximately ten kilometers. Rest is important but the truth is more important. Why were they following Him? John 6:2 provides the answer: they saw the signs He performed in healing the sick, and they were fascinated by His power:

2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

Yet Jesus wasn’t irritated by the people’s neediness but “moved with compassion toward them.” Luke 9:11 records that He spoke to them of the Kingdom of God and healed them:

11 And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing.

Jesus called them to repent and believe in Him as the Son of God and their Messiah, so that they could receive the Kingdom of God. He recognized that they were sheep and it is a known fact that sheep without a shepherd will die. They cannot get onto their feet again if they fall on their backs, they must be cleaned up, cared for, provided for. Numbers 27:17b simply states that “the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd.” Jesus’ teachings, then, would lead them to eternal safety in the fold. Matthew 14:14 shows Jesus healing the sick, being moved because human suffering made Him suffer too:

14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

Yet the Lord was concerned that they had spiritual rest as well as physical rest and healing. Verses 35-44 of today’s passage show the Lord’s provision of food for the disciples and people. This is an example of God’s common grace, where the goodness of God is given without discrimination. Jesus is good to His enemies, even to people who hate and reject Him:

But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
(Luke 6:35)

The following day is reported in John 6. Here, Jesus tells the people that He Himself is the bread of life, that they are to “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:27).

In verse 37 of today’s passage, Christ says effectively, “You give them something to eat.” Jesus had delegated His power to the disciples earlier but they didn’t yet have the faith to perform this miracle. They had forgotten about the widow and her jar of oil in 1 Kings 17:16:

And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.

Another gospel says that a boy had five loaves and two fishes on his person. Why was this the case? It was clearly his lunch, being the Middle Eastern equivalent of five crackers and a little bit of protein.

In verse 39, Jesus orders the crowd. Verse 41 shows Him distributing the food after giving thanks to the Father. The disciples became the waiters and just kept giving out food. This would have been the only uncursed banquet these people had ever gone to, it was like eating in the garden of Eden. You’d have liked these fish too regardless of whether or not you liked fish.

Verse 43 is significant because it shows that Jesus ordered the meal with perfect precision. Twelve baskets of broken pieces of meat and bread were taken up, one for each of the disciples. This was divinely controlled with no waste. Was there a real spiritual awakening after the miraculous feeding of the five thousand? No, not really. The crowds were waiting the next day for food again but Jesus said simply, “No, you need spiritual meat.” John 6:66 then records that at this point even some of His disciples left Him:

From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

But the twelve stayed faithful, Peter simply stating, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Today’s health, wealth and prosperity gospel echoes the attitudes of the faithless disciples and the people of Bethsaida. Sadly, those who have known the way of righteousness yet have turned from it will come under severer judgement:

For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
(2 Peter 2:21)

If you don’t yet know the Lord Jesus as your personal Saviour, may I encourage you to read the following article:

http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0001/0001_01.asp

May the Lord Jesus bless you always.

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Nothing is too Wonderful

Amen to this:

God has made wonderful promises to us, too. All the promises have their “Yes” in Christ (II Corinthians 1:20). But like Sarah the wait wears us down. Do you, like me, have prayers unanswered? Do you wonder if God hears? HE DOES. So let’s encourage and remind one another: “Nothing is too hard, nothing too wonderful for God to accomplish.”

Jean Fleming: Live the Mystery

blog-phone

The story is familiar and moving. A couple longs for a child. They try and try again. Year after year. They pray. This prayer percolates up, bubbling to their vocal chords. The wife wakes with the prayer already in her mouth. Her prayer catches the rhythm as she kneads bread or stirs the pot. The prayer lies heavy on her chest before she falls asleep. Leaden. Futile? An exercise so well established that she can’t give it up. But hope ebbs. Too long hope is deferred. Prayer unanswered.

This is how I imagine Sarah, now old, past child-bearing, worn out by the wait.

God has promised a son. In fact, a nation. The promises God made lit up the sky and lay in the sand at their feet. Promises too great. Promises so expansive and glittering. Promises so wonderful—and impossible.

Time had run out for them. She was past child-bearing…

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Can God cause good to emerge from suffering?

This article is a short note I made while reading “The Case for Faith” by Lee Strobel, pages 72-73. I’ve included it here in the hope that others might find it edifying and comforting too. It certainly rang true to me. Here then are my notes:

Several years earlier, Marc had been shoveling snow on his driveway when his wife said she was going to move the car and asked him to watch their young daughter. As the car backed out, they were suddenly thrust into the worst nightmare that parents can imagine: their toddler was crushed beneath a wheel.

Like the African woman, Marc has known what it’s like to hold a dying child in his arms. While I wasn’t able to converse with that grieving mother, I could converse with him. So deep was Marc’s initial despair that he had to ask God to help him breathe, to help him eat, to help him function at the most fundamental level. Otherwise, he was paralyzed by the emotional pain. But he increasingly felt God’s presence, his grace, his warmth, his comfort, and very slowly, over time, his wounds began to heal.

Having experienced God at his point of greatest need, Marc would emerge from this crucible a changed person, abandoning his career in business to attend seminary. Through his suffering – though he never would have chosen it, though it was horribly painful, though it was life-shattering at the time – Marc has been transformed into someone who would devote the rest of life to bringing God’s compassion to others who are alone in their desperation.

In the pulpit for the first time, Marc was able to draw on his own experiences with God in the depths of sorrow. People were captivated because his own loss had given him special insights, empathy, and credibility. In the end, dozens of them responded by saying they too wanted to know this Jesus, this God of tears. Now other hearts were being healed because of Marc’s having been broken. From one couple’s despair emerges new hope for many.

“Sometimes skeptics scoff at the Bible saying that God can cause good to emerge from our pain if we run toward him instead of away from him,” Marc said. “But I’ve watched it happen in my own life. I’ve experienced God’s goodness through deep pain , and no skeptic can dispute that. The God who the skeptic denies is the same God who held our hands in the deep, dark places, who strengthened our marriage, who deepened our faith, who increased our reliance on him, who gave us two more children, and who infused our lives with new purpose and meaning so that we can make a difference to others.”

Now some scripture passages the Lord brought to mind concerning the above that I wanted to share with you:

Come, and let us return unto the Lord:
for he hath torn, and he will heal us;
he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
(Hosea 6:1)

God meets us in our broken places.

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart;
and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
(Psalm 34:18)

Love is the key:

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
(Galatians 5:6)

Note to young and old

A timely reminder for all who are lonely, hurting or depressed with the world and wondering where God is. Hold firm, keep the faith. If we all took Psalm 23 to heart we would be greatly comforted by Jesus:

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul:
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

atimetoshare.me

 PROVERBS 2:29  “The glory of young men is their strength,
    but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”

I’ve talked about how important it is for kids to know they have value.  The same is true for us old fogeys.  I think we forget that somewhere in middle age, because we’re so busy building a life – raising a family – making time for everything that has to be done.  When we’re on the outer edges of life (beginning and end) we tend to lose faith in our abilities.

I have a concern for our teens and their gnawing desire at times to end their existence because they just can’t take it anymore.  Life can be overwhelming when you’re going from one stage in life to another.  The same is true for us seniors as we see our lives melting away, our strength being sapped, our dependence on…

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What can we learn from the life of Mary of Bethany?

By S. Michael Houdmann, Supporter of Got Questions Ministries

Mary of Bethany is one of the most beautiful characters in all of Scripture, and we can learn valuable lessons from studying her life. Mary was the sister of Martha, and her brother was Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead. We see Mary three different times in the Bible, beginning with the incident in the home of her sister, Martha (Luke 10:38-42), where Jesus, and presumably the disciples who travelled with Him, were being entertained. Martha was so distressed and “distracted with much serving” and frustrated that her sister wasn’t helping that she actually rebuked Jesus, accusing Him of not caring that Mary sat at His feet while she did all the work. Jesus’ response gives us our first insight into Mary of Bethany. Jesus commended her for “choosing the better,” meaning that Mary’s desire to be near her Lord and hang onto His every word was far more beneficial than running herself ragged with preparations for a meal. Jesus further said that choosing the better thing, learning of the Lord, would not be taken away from Mary.

By “choosing the better,” Jesus meant that those whose priority in life is Christ, the knowledge of Him, and nearness to Him have chosen what will last through eternity, such as the “gold, silver and costly stones” referred to in 1 Corinthians 3:11-12. From this incident, we learn that those who are distracted with the mundane and earthly are building upon the foundation which is Christ with “wood, hay and straw,” materials which will not stand the fires that come to us in times of testing, nor will they be remembered in eternity. Martha’s rebuke of Jesus gives us insight into her heart and mind as she tried to make everything perfect and was so distracted that she lost sight of whom she was speaking to. Mary’s silence, which we will see again in another incident, indicates a lack of concern for herself, especially for defending herself. When we focus on Christ, He becomes our greatest passion and our tendency to self-absorption dims and fades.

The second incident in which Mary and Martha appear occurs in John 11 with the raising of their brother, Lazarus, from the dead. When Mary hears that Jesus has come and is calling for her, she immediately leaves the assembly of mourners in her home and rushes to meet Jesus. So great is her love for Him and her desire to please and obey Him that she leaves those who had come to comfort her to place herself in the arms of the greatest Comforter mankind has ever known. Jesus sees her great sorrow and weeps along with her, even though He knows her sadness is going to be short-lived and that her brother will be restored to her momentarily. In the same way, when we sorrow and grieve, our greatest comfort is found in Jesus, whose compassion is boundless. When we place our hand in the nail-scarred hand, we find comfort, peace and security, and we learn the truth of Psalm 30:5b: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

The third and final time we see Mary of Bethany is just days before Christ’s crucifixion (Matthew 26:1-6; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8). A meal had been prepared at the home of Simon the leper, probably a leper who had been healed by Jesus and had become one of His followers. Martha was again serving while the resurrected Lazarus reclined at the table with Jesus and the disciples. At some point, Mary broke open an alabaster jar, poured a pint of very expensive perfume on Jesus’ head and feet, and wiped them with her hair. In spite of criticism from some of the disciples about the waste of the costly substance, Mary said nothing. Just as in the first incident, Mary allowed Jesus to defend her, which He does, saying that she has kept this perfume for His burial and has done a beautiful act of service to Him which would be memorialized down through the ages.

We see two amazing things about Mary here from which we can take our example. First, she seems to know that the time of Jesus’ death on the cross was at hand, a fact that had escaped the disciples in spite of Jesus’ clear declaration of this truth. No doubt Mary contented herself with listening to her Lord and meditating on His words, while the disciples bickered about who would be greatest among them in the kingdom. By doing so, they missed the important truths Jesus was teaching them about His upcoming death and resurrection (Mark 9:30-35). How often do we miss spiritual truths because we are self-focused and overly concerned for our rewards, our status and our reputation among men?

Second, we see in Mary a settled conviction and confidence in her Lord, so much so that she is not compelled to defend herself in the face of criticism. How often do we jump at the chance to justify ourselves in the eyes of others who criticize and mock us, particularly where our faith is concerned? But if we, like Mary, make sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to Him our priority, we will have her depth of understanding, her passion for Christ, and her complete faith in His plan for our lives. We may not have Jesus sitting in our living rooms in person, but we have His Word, the Bible, and from it we have all the knowledge and understanding we need to live a life of secure and confident faith like Mary of Bethany.

See http://www.gotquestions.org/life-Mary-Bethany.html

Inspiration from Creation – how engineers are copying GOD’s designs

This article is from notes I made while listening to Stuart Burgess’s DVD “Inspiration from Creation – how engineers are copying GOD’s designs.” I hope you find the concepts presented as encouraging and uplifting as I did. May the Lord Jesus bless you now and always.

Job 37:14-16 commands us to consider God’s perfect works in creation:

14 Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.
15 Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of his cloud to shine?
16 Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?

The natural world contains supreme design. It is very humbling to try to copy God’s designs. If evolution were true, engineers should not be copying nature because evolution has far more constraints (the process is step-by-step and changes must have a survival advantage). We can have no redundant beauty or elegance, nor irreducible complexity, in the process of evolution.

Bio-inspiration, on the other hand, confirms biblical creation. To take the example of the knee joint, a project I have been working on for over 20 years for the purposes of robotics and prosthetics, in terms of geometry and dimensions, in terms of concept, your knee joint is brilliantly designed. There is one caveat and that is that death and disease are due to the Fall. Bad joints are not due to bad design but to the curse.

Bio-inspiration is based on observational science, which some also call operational science. This is real science, real experiments, real wind tunnels, real dissection. In contrast, evolutionary theories are based on speculation. Beware of speculation.

Bio-inspiration shows the truth of design in nature. Nature contains irreducible designs for example the four-bar mechanism in dragonfly wings. You cannot evolve a four-bar mechanism step-by-step. You need all four bars, all four pins, together. You cannot evolve it. Four-bar mechanisms in nature are great evidence against evolution and for design – the knee joint has a four-bar mechanism, as do fish jaws and bird wings. Biologists such as Richard Dawkins don’t know what a four-bar mechanism is (a simple diagram is given below):

Diagram of a four-bar mechanism

Richard Dawkins is also not qualified in the science of design, though often he assumes the role of an expert. He is a biologist not an engineer.

The existence of a four-bar mechanism in nature gave me two big conclusions:

  1. God loves mechanical engineering
  2. There is a Creator because you cannot evolve a four-bar mechanism

The origins debate

Biblical worldview = science including God
Atheistic worldview = science excluding God

The message of bio-inspiration:

  • There is a Creator (Romans 1:20)

    “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse”

  • Creation contains wonders without number (Job 9:10), so there are endless brilliant designs in the natural world that engineers can copy

    “Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.”

  • Creation contains things we cannot comprehend (Job 37:5)

    “God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.”

  • God is perfect in knowledge (Job 37:16)

    “Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?”

I don’t just believe in a Creator. I believe the Creator is the Lord Jesus Christ. All things were made through Him. I also believe that He came to this world to save sinners, to seek and save the lost, all those who will come to Him in true faith and repentance. And it is my hope and my prayer that everyone who sees this talk will not just come to believe in a Creator, but come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Thank you. Amen.

The DVD can be purchased very economically from creationsuperstore.com, costing just $12.99 when I last checked. It runs for approximately 65 minutes and is money very well spent because you will be blessed by it.