Summary: Draw aside and spend time with the Lord. Offload your problems and see how he wonderfully provides
This morning, I would like to look at one verse from the record in St. Mark’s Gospel of the feeding of the five thousand. And this is the words of Jesus when he said to his disciples:
"Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
I would like to consider why this was so important.
We live in a society where we are often very busy.
Often I look in my diary and wonder how I will survive the week. I am in such a rush.
Yet Mother Theresa once observed: God is rarely found in the midst of noise and restlessness. Instead he is the friend of silence.
I think it is important to see the feeding of the five thousand in its context.
Jesus has returned to his home town of Nazareth, where the people rejected him and where he made the famous comment: “A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country ” (Mk. 6:4 KJV).
Jesus then proceeds to send the 12 apostles out “two by two” to preach a gospel of repentance.
They are far more successful than he has been in Nazareth - for we read that the disciples “drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them” ( Mk 6:13)
And then chronologically we come to the feeding of the five thousand.
The disciples were on Cloud Nine. They wanted to keep on going. God is at work – how wonderful.
Conventional wisdom would have said: “Strike while the iron is hot. Put another evangelistic campaign together.
But JESUS said: “Pull aside with me for rest”
Rest is so important if we are going to complete the course. By resting in Jesus, we see three principles illustrated in the story of the feeding of the five thousand.
I. God is in control. Our problems don’t go away, but we acknowledge that God can deal with them.
II. We will be surprised that God will use our meagre resources- in ways we cannot dream about
III. When God acts, He supplies liberally.
Let’s look at each of these principles.
1. The first principle is that God is in control.
There is a temptation in life to be overwhelmed by things. The disciples were probably going to burn out if they had not drawn aside. How many of God’s people haven’t finished the course - because of burn out.
Story: In the fall of 1904, Wales experienced a monumental religious awakening that shook the nation, turning its coal mines into sanctuaries, shutting down its saloons and brothels, and even cancelling its scheduled sporting events.
God used a young man called Evan Roberts (1878-1950) as the prime mover in this Revival and he rose to national prominence. The Welsh press was for several months full of stories about Roberts - and the revival meetings he presided over.
Yet after six months of intensive labour, Roberts withdrew from his ministry - an emotionally and physically broken man. At the invitation of Mrs. Jessie Penn Lewis, he retreated to the Lewis home in Leicester for what was originally intended to be a recuperative stay of one week. Sadly, he did not return to public ministry for nearly twenty-five years. Evan Roberts suffered from “Burn out”.
Jesus recognised that we all need rest - to draw aside regularly and spend time with God. And as we do so - our problems take a different perspective.
If we are going to be successful as Christians, we need to acknowledge that Christ is the source of all we do. And so we need to spend time with Him, in prayer and Bible Study, recharging the batteries and receiving our guidance from him.
The disciples had a massive problem – how to feed 5000 people – with no supermarkets to buy from.
It seemed an impossible problem. But they did the only thing they could – they brought the problem to Christ
Story: (Sylvia Chesterman) Last year in one of our fifteen parishes, one of the treasurers despaired of paying the Parish Share for that year - with so few people in church giving regularly.
The previous year, the Church had defaulted and
she just couldn’t see how they could possibly pay
this year either. So when the bill for the Parish Share came, she took it into church and laid it on the altar. Within six months, God had provided and the parish share was paid in full.
2. The second principle is that God can take our meagre resources and use them spectacularly.
We might feel, like the disciples, did that five loaves and two fishes wasn’t going anywhere, but our gifts in the hands of God can be multiplied spectacularly.
Often we think that what we have to offer isn’t worth offering.