Summary: When feeding the 5,000 Jesus proved that he loved ordinary people like you and me.
Ordinary People – Extraordinary Christ
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
July 23, 2006
The races are on. In just a few short months, we will go to the polls to elect 435 members of Congress and a third of our Senators. From now until November, we will be bombarded by political messages and promises. We’ll be told by each particular candidate that he or she wants to go to Washington D.C. to represent average Americans.
Candidates from both political parties will tell us what average Americans looks like, acts like, and how they spend their money. They will tell us what the average American wants in our government and what issues are important to us. They will go on and tell us why they will represent the average American better than their opponent.
This will all be buttressed by polls designed to reveal what average Americans think on subjects ranging from social issues to economic issues to religious issues. Average Americans will be asked their views on foreign and domestic policy, on their hopes and dreams for their children, and on their opinion of public education. On and on the questions will go, as they attempt to define you and me.
Churches do the same thing. Back in 1993, I remember reading a book titled, “Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary” (Lee Strobel. 1993. Zondervan: Grand Rapids). It was written by a fellow named Lee Strobel who was then the Teaching Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. They were looking for the average person who did not have a church home, in order to determine what would attract them to Willow Creek, or any church for that matter.
Actually, we do know who the average American is. According to Kevin O’Keefe, author of “The Average American: The Extraordinary Search for the Nation’s Most Ordinary Citizen,” the average American is thirty-six years old, has nine friends, drinks the milk in the bottom of the bowl after his cereal is gone, eats twenty-five pounds of candy a year, knows the names of the Three Stooges, attends church at least once a month, and goes to bed before midnight
The average American is Robert Burns. He is a real person. Burns lives on the outskirts of Hartford, Connecticut. He is a maintenance man by occupation, stands five foot, eight inches tall, and weighs 185 pounds. He and his wife have three children. If he were given a choice, he would prefer smooth peanut butter over chunky.
Chapter six of the Gospel of Mark gives a portrait of a very busy Jesus. He begins the chapter in his hometown of Nazareth where he ran into some trouble. The people there had known him since he had been a kid. They knew his family. He was such an ordinary kid from such an ordinary family. They wondered where he got off thinking that he was special. So he wasn’t able to do great works there, although he was able to heal a few people. After that, he left on a preaching and teaching tour around the Galilee.
Next, he sent his disciples out two-by-two. He gave them authority and power to deal with the troubles they would experience.
Shortly after that, chapter six gives the account of the beheading of John the Baptist. John had the uncanny ability to offend people with his preaching. They finally brought his nagging and preaching to an end with his execution.
Then the disciples of Jesus came back reporting all that they had accomplished on their mission. By then, Jesus knew that they needed a time to rest, relax, and recover. So they got into a boat and crossed the Sea of Galilee to a place where they thought they could be alone.
But their plans were discovered, and when they pulled their boat up on the shore, they discovered a huge crowd had beaten them to the place. When the people got hungry, Jesus fed them, all five thousand of them.
Jesus then sent the disciples across the lake once more, telling them that he would catch up with them after he had dismissed the crowd. Later, they saw him walking out to them on the water.
When they reached the shore, there were the crowds, waiting for them again. Jesus had compassion on them and spent all the time that was needed to heal them.
All of these people, who raced around the lake, were the ordinary folks of his day. They were a whole lot like us. They worked hard, loved their families, wanted the best for them, and did their best to live up to their religious faith. They had their questions. They had their opinions. They had their dreams. They were just everyday, ordinary people trying to live as best they could.