Summary: Sometimes in our zeal of serving God we begin to take the reigns and can actually not really trust and rely on Jesus for the very work He has called us to.
Some Christians find themselves in a never ending quest to earn the right to deserve their relationship with God. We feel so bad about ourselves and feel that God had to do so much to save us that we need to spend our lives trying really hard to please Him so He’ll feel better about what He’s done for us. For others there is a drive to perform. God has given us a great gift of salvation and so we, in turn, must try to match His great gift by performing great things for Him. Others do not have a positive enough sense of self to be able to say “no.” If you identify with any of these three attitudes—and there are more—you may find yourself at times “burning out for the Lord.” I think the portion of Mark 6 we are going to look at today will be a comfort and a challenge to you as we see the Lord’s compassion with our plight and His provision for everything we need to serve Him.
We don’t know how long they were gone but at some prearranged time they group meets back at Capernaum for an after action report. They are now officially “apostles” which means “sent ones.” Later it became a title for the twelve, but in the aspect of its meaning, you too are apostles of Jesus, sent to preach the good news. Apparently there was much to tell of the demons cast out and the lives changed. There really is something exhilarating about being actively involved in sharing the gospel, and it’s great to come back together and bring the whole thing to the Lord for His feedback.
Jesus recognized that this was now a time for them to get away and rest. The trip itself had been exhausting but now there were so many people crowding around they couldn’t even eat. This ought to be a word for anyone who labors for the gospel. Sometimes we think that we must completely spend ourselves because, after all, Jesus gave His all for us. In reality, the Lord knows that this is not a sprint but a marathon. You should work hard for the Lord but also not overdo it. You are really of no long term use if you burn out!
32 – 34
Luke tells us (Luke 9:10) that they went by boat to Bethsaida. The disciples were now as well-known as Jesus. The crowds follow along and go ahead of them—no doubt having heard that where one man was doing miracles, now there are twelve additional opportunities for healing. When Jesus saw them, His innate compassion came forth—not for their physical healing, but for their spiritual health. Just as Moses prayed for God to provide a leader so that the people would not be “sheep without a shepherd” (Numbers 27:17). The Lord appointed Joshua, which is “Jesus” in Hebrew. We are indeed sheep—though we don’t like to admit it. We easily follow the person with the most interesting rap or the most intriguing personality or the one who promises the most return on our investment. Jesus comes as “the good Shepherd” to lead us to true green pasture (Psalms 23).
35 – 36
It’s interesting to me that Jesus waited for the disciples to come to Him. I’m reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 that “man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes out of the mouth of God.” It was actually more important for them to listen to the life-giving words of God than in getting food for their bellies. The disciples, still focusing mostly on this age, aren’t yet ready for that truth so they come to Jesus. What He tells them to do is astounding!
37 – 40
It was after 3pm. With sunset approaching, the men were wise in wanting the people to reach a village before the sun was gone to get food and lodging. They had done miracles in Jesus’ name but when it came to feeding a crowd, their minds just couldn’t comprehend what to do other than buy it. A denarii was a Roman coin equal to a day’s wage. Perhaps this was the total amount they had in their possession, or an amount they calculated it would take to feed them all. When faced with a need, their first thought was “how can we do this.” Jesus is setting them up. They couldn’t do it, yet Jesus had commanded them to. How often do we find ourselves in situations like that where Jesus prompts us to do something we have no way of accomplishing? Our minds first go to the physical impossibility of it all and we give up. Had they but asked “Okay Jesus. Clearly we can’t do this. What do you propose?” they would have seen that depending on Jesus to do what we cannot is exactly the position He wants us in constantly. John 15:5 “You can do nothing without Me.” And Philippians 4:3 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”