Summary: One of the challenges this passage lays upon us is to trust in God to provide for the little things. To pray just as earnestly that God would ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ And we’re to look out for God working in little ways in our lives.

Sermon by Rev George Hemmings

It’s good to be back, after our little trip to Queensland. We had a great time away, visiting family and enjoying lots of fantastic weather. I can’t say we’ve returned well rested, as Micah & Joshua decided that since the sun rises sometime around 5am, that would be a good time for them to start the day too. And our last 24 hours were something of a disaster, with two trips to the hospital. So it’s good to be home, back into regular routines and it’s especially good to be back with our church family.

Just as we’ve returned, our passage today starts with the disciples returning. You might recall from last week, that Jesus has just sent them out on a short-term mission trip. He gave them power over the unclean spirits and sent them out in pairs. They went out and cast out demons, healed the sick and proclaimed the good news about Jesus, calling people to repent. Jesus trusted them to join in his mission, his work and he even shared his power with them so they could do so. By all accounts they’ve been successful. Now, in verse 30 they’ve come back. There’s a lot of energy and excitement as they gather around Jesus. You can imagine them all pumped up, eager to tell him everything that they’ve done, all that they accomplished in his name. But they can’t quite do this. Mark says there were so many people around them, the crowd is so large the disciples couldn’t even sit down to share a meal with Jesus.

Well, Jesus recognises their need for some time out. He knows they need to be careful not to burn out, they need some rest and rejuvenation. So he says to them, ‘Come on let’s get out of here.’ Jesus intends to take them off on a retreat, so they can properly debrief and to get some well-deserved rest. So they jump in their boat and set sail for a deserted place on the Lake of Galilee.

As they say, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.’ Seems even Jesus’ plans don’t work out. He intended to take the disciples away from the crowd, but when they arrive at their deserted place they find the crowd’s beaten them there! By now Jesus has become pretty popular. Verse 14 says that Jesus’ name had become quite well known. It’s not surprising really as he’s done some amazing miracles, healing people, casting out demons, raising the dead. Even King Herod is wondering who is this man? Everyone’s talking about him and everyone wants to catch a glimpse of him. It’s a bit like when Justin Beiber, or One Direction, who ever they are, turn up in town. The first sighting is all it takes for the crowd to come flocking in hoping to see Jesus. And by now it’s not just Jesus who would have been recognised. The disciples too had probably gathered quite a following after their successful mission. Verse 33 says, many saw ‘them’ and recognised ‘them’. The crowd’s spotted them and rush from all the surrounding towns to be there when Jesus and the disciples touch down.

So much for their quiet time! You can imagine how disappointed the disciples must’ve felt have felt. This was meant to be their time alone with Jesus, their time to have a break, to rest and recharge. Instead what they find another great crowd waiting for them! This means more demands, more conversations, more pressures upon them just when they’re meant to be having a break.

There’s nothing worse than having your work follow you on holidays! During our stay with my Dad, we went out for a picnic one day. My dad and his partner took the day off to join us. But my Dad’s phone rang at least half a dozen times! Even though this was meant to be a day of rest and family, he spent ages on the phone. Not that I can be too quick to judge as my phone went off twice with messages I had to reply to! And I’m sure I’m not the only one who checks emails on their day off. But there’s nothing worse than when you really want some time alone and finding a whole bunch of people waiting for you. I’m sure the disciples felt like jumping back in the boat and trying to find somewhere else to go! Or telling the crowd that’s waiting for them, where they could go.

But Jesus has a very different response. He cares for his disciples, yes. He’s the one who suggested this little break. But when he sees the crowd, Mark says he was filled with compassion. His heart was moved through concern for them. They were like sheep without a shepherd. The bible uses this image frequently when it talks about God’s people suffering from a lack of care and leadership. When their leaders, those who are meant to be caring for them are too busy looking after themselves. This is exactly what God spoke against through the prophet Ezekiel:

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