Summary: Jesus and His disciples put their ministry ahead of themselves.
July 21, 2018
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
The First Mega Church?
Let’s have a casual and then a little more in depth look at what this reading depicts. Jesus has gathered the apostles together for a rest and recreation retreat. They have just returned from their first outreach. Remember, He sent them out two by two. Jesus sought to have them assemble and share their experiences and perhaps do a little debriefing. So, Jesus directed them to a deserted place for that purpose,
No sooner had they found a good area for their retreat than the crowds recognized Jesus and began to throng Him and the apostles. Mark tells us that Jesus took pity on them, comparing them to lost sheep without a shepherd. So, He began to teach them many things.
It was more than just name recognition, it was His reputation for caring and sharing that drew crowds to Jesus. Look at it like this. If Billy Graham arrived in your neck of the woods and you realized that he would be having an informal gathering at a nearby park, would you try and be among those that began to gather, for his teaching and ministry.
That could probably be said of several ministers and people of renown. True ministry beckons a loving response that is not born of any concern for compensation but a concern for people seeking ministry.
A few years ago, when there was a great need for more understanding of Muslims and the Muslim faith, I contacted my very good friend Pastor George Rafidi, who is of Arab descent and ministers the gospel of Jesus Christ to Arabs in America.
I invited George to come to the small New England church where I was pastor to share with us a true understanding of the Muslim Faith and how his ministry was reaching masses in that culture. Without any hesitation, George was on his way to Vermont. He spent a few days with us and taught from the pulpit the truth and laced it with pure Christian gospel. I explained to him before he came that we were a small church and our treasury was certainly not bulging. His response was “I come to serve Jesus not the dollar”. That pretty well sums it up, doesn’t it? I doubt seriously if the offering that we passed on to him even covered his expenses.
I also have no doubt that God compensated him in ways we may never know. Now that we are back in Florida, maybe we can call on Pastor George again.
Our continued liturgical reading now picks up again with that turbulent crossing of the sea of Galilee. I believe they set sail for Bethsaida but were blown so far off course that they actually made landfall at Gennesaret. This follows the well-known account of Jesus walking on water and Peter giving it a try. Remember?
As soon as they stepped ashore, they were met by crowds asking for healings. Word spread so fast of their arrival, that crowds preceded them and followed after them everywhere they went. Many sick were carried on litters to wherever Jesus gathered. Jesus was so merciful and held such love for the lost, seeking and hurting that He met every need that He encountered. The mercy and love of Christ was so strong and available that whoever even touched His garment was made well.
These are recorded historical events. How many times do we read, hear and experience like testimonies of old and again in modern times? The young men who were rescued from being trapped in a deep underground cave in Thailand is a very recent example of God’s love and mercy. Yet, it seems that many continue to struggle with faith in the healing power of Jesus the Christ.
Most churches have a prayer list. That list isn’t for a designated time slot in a church service; that prayer list is available for everyone to pray over daily and testify of the mercy and love of the answered prayers.
Let us now pray -