Summary: A sermon about the feeding of the 5,000 and how that relates to stress.
I don't know about you, but there are times when I can get so overwhelmed, that, at least for a brief period of time--life becomes almost more than I can bear or deal with.
Perhaps I'm dealing with 1,2,3 or 15 stressors at work and then something is happening in my personal life as well--it may be a situation that needs attending to involving an elderly parent, a child or a financial decision--you name it!!!
At times, something that is happening at home can affect my ability to do all I can do at my job.
At other times, stressful situations at work can ruin a weekend, time in the evening with my wife, or even a vacation.
Can any of you relate?
It's easy to talk about boundaries, it can be harder to divorce ourselves mentally and emotionally from what is going on at work or home.
And when there are stressors pressing us from several sides it's easy to feel as if we are standing on a beach, looking up hopelessly as a wave is about to come crashing down on us.
I think we've all been there.
Perhaps you are there this morning.
I think the disciples were there in our Scripture passage for this morning.
Verse 13 tells us that "When Jesus heard about John, he withdrew to a deserted place by himself."
And it appears that, either the disciples were with Him, or they were close by trying to be alone as well.
They are in mourning.
John the Baptist has just been executed by Herod.
Herod was hosting a birthday banquet--feeding those who had no lack of food--when he decides to reward his step-daughter for her dancing by showing off to his guests.
She can have anything she wants.
So, at the urging of her mother, she asks for John's head on a platter.
Herod goes through with the grisly execution, and there isn't a bit of compassion in anyone in that story.
But this guy, John, was not only Jesus' cousin--he was Jesus' predecessor as well.
He had even baptized Jesus.
And a number of Jesus' disciples had once been disciples of John.
So, to say they are overwhelmed by grief is an understatement.
Jesus is bummed.
The disciples are bummed.
And they are trying to get away for a bit.
They need some time off.
Things are getting too overwhelming.
They can't handle much more!!!
But the crowds are following Jesus and His disciples.
They've seen Him get in a boat and they race around the lake and are there waiting for Him--with all their horrible, terrible, burdening needs when He arrives!!!
They need Jesus.
And rather than get frustrated with them...
Rather than hold a grudge...
Rather than tell them He doesn't have the time or energy for them--we are told that Jesus "had compassion for them and healed those who were sick."
This ability to lay aside His own needs and offer compassion to others is one of the things that sets Jesus apart.
It's also what ultimately gets Him killed, because it challenges the heartlessness of the powerful who ignore the needy in their midst and make no effort to alleviate their suffering--even though they have lots of resources.
After a day of healing, counseling, teaching and loving the disciples have probably just about had it up to here!!!
They are grief-stricken.
They are tired.
They are stressed.
And the crowds keep surging and surging.
By the time evening comes there are "about five thousand men plus women and children" in this crazy, isolated and remote location.
The more Jesus heals, the more people come.
It just goes on and on and on.
Finally, the disciples get to their complete breaking point.
It's getting dark, people are hungry, there is no food!!!
Would you be a bit stressed out at this point...
...perhaps a little irritable?
Would you find it a little harder to be compassionate at this point?
Would you be freaking out???
So, the disciples are in a panic.
They come to Jesus and breathlessly, desperately say to Him: "This is an isolated place and it's getting late.
Send the crowds away so they can go into the village and buy food for themselves."
But Jesus shocks them with this: "There's no need to send them away. You give them something to eat."
There can be no doubt that big crowds with unmet needs tend to overwhelm us.
If there had been only six people following Jesus when it came time to eat, it may have seemed manageable...
...a bit of an annoyance?...
...perhaps, but manageable.
But a stadium size crowd of grumbling tummies is too much to handle!!!
So, the disciples' pleading with Jesus to tell the crowds to "hit the road and get your own food," is a practical enough solution.