Summary: Are you overwhelmed by the enormity of the needs and wonder how in the world that even God can meet those needs? How can we approach the problem in today’s world?
Iliff and Saltillo United Methodist
July 31, 2005
“Life is Sure No Picnic”
INTRODUCTION: A man in a van stopped to fill up the gas tank. He had a van full of restless rowdy kids. Someone asked him, “Are these all your kids or are you on a picnic?”
He answered “Yes, these are my kids and NO, it’s not a picnic!”
Summer is a time of picnics and outdoor fun and activities for most people. You might have some summer time traditions in your family where every year you always go to a certain park or picnic grounds. When I was growing up we used to take a big picnic basket and go to Old Man’s Cave for the day. You might look forward to family reunions where people gather to enjoy the summer. Picnics are of great variety.
Walter’s favorite kind of picnic is to take two cans of pop and stop at Subway to get a couple of seafood and crab subs and then go to Dillon.
In today’s scripture, even though the people gathered together outdoors in the spring, sitting on the grass, eating bread and fish, “Life was sure no picnic for them.” This story is the only one told in all four gospels. Each account gives us a little bit of different information. Just as it is today, they faced many difficulties just as we all do and life was
no picnic for them. They were weighed down by many things. Some were sick and were looking to Jesus to heal them.
There are several things that we can apply to our lives today from this story.
1. Jesus Saw the Need and Had Compassion: In the Matthew, Mark, and Luke accounts, Jesus has just heard the news about John the Baptist being beheaded by Herod. That was sad news for him, and maybe He wanted to be alone for awhile to think--to take time out. The disciples were tired from being with crowds of people and ministering to need after need. Jesus intended to get away from it all for awhile to rest and to pray, but the crowds tracked him down. He could have been IRRITATED by their clamoring for first one thing and then another, but instead the scripture opens by saying in verse 14 “when Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had COMPASSION on them and healed their sick.” His heart went out to them. He WELCOMED all who came.
Mark’s gospel says that Jesus saw them as “sheep without a shepherd.” They had a variety of needs. Many were sick and sought healing, some had traveled a great distance to come to the Passover. It was late in the day and they were tired and out in the middle of no where without food. In a crowd of this size I am sure there must have been all kinds of frustrations and that these people experienced all kinds of lacks. They were probably wandering around like sheep without a shepherd not knowing where they were headed. At that point life was sure no picnic for them. They sought Jesus in hopes of seeing their needs met.
APPLICATION: Much of our life is made up of the routine, one problem after another. It is not the picnics or the celebrations but times when we feel the questions and problems press in on us. It is when we are uncertain about decisions, our energy level is down and we don’t know what we are supposed to do. Besides this we may be hungry.
2. There is NO Need for Them to Depart: The disciples urged Jesus to take a break late in the day and send the people into the towns to get some food. Instead he told them, “There is no need for them to depart.” Why would he say this when there was no place to buy food? The nearest town, Bethsadia, was about 9 miles from there. Why would he want them to stay when there was nothing to give them to eat? In John’s account Jesus asked Philip, “Where can we buy bread?” He knew that if anyone knew, it would be Philip because he lived at Bethsaida. What he is really asking is, “How are we going to approach this problem? He was trying to test or to strengthen Philip’s faith, also to help the disciples to see their responsibility in ministry. Jesus was not accustomed to sending people away with needs. He is saying, “It is not necessary that you go away EMPTY HANDED with the same needs that you came with.
APPLICATION: How many times are we just like the disciples in our thinking when it comes to the enormity of needs in the world today or in our OWN LIVES. We come to church sometimes with deep needs and problems and go away with those same needs because we are thinking, “It’s impossible. How’s He going to do this for ME?”