Summary: Stop bailing, and start believing!
“The Next Step”
by Rev. James Tino
New Life Lutheran Church
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ;
“Where do we go from here?” Have you ever said that? (I’ll bet some of you were saying that yesterday evening, as you tried to find our house for the anniversary party). Sometimes in life, we just get stuck. All of our plans seem to lead to a dead end. The goal is out there, but it seems that there is no way to get there. We can’t figure out the next step.
That’s kind of where we are as a church right now. The way forward is not clear. Some of you may be in the same place in your personal lives – maybe you have some options, or maybe you are running out of options. What we need is some direction; a way forward; the next step.
What is your next step? What is our next step? In our text in v. 35, “(Jesus) said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’”
This was the end of a long day for Jesus. It was evening. As we read in Mark ch. 4, Jesus had spent the whole day teaching the people. According to the Scripture, a large crowd of people had gathered to hear Jesus teach – a “multitude”. There were so many people that Jesus taught from a boat, which was anchored just a little offshore. The people gathered along the shore of the sea of Galilee, and Jesus taught them.
Now it was evening, and Jesus said to the disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side.” The disciples didn’t know whay Jesus wanted to go to the other side of the sea of Galilee, because the other side was the region known as Gerasene. This was a sparsely-settled area – sometimes in the Bible it is called a “wilderness” area. In the next chapter of Mark, ch. 5, we read about what happened when Jesus got to the other side. In Gerasene was a man who was demon-possessed, and Jesus cast out the demons from the man, and the demons entered a herd of swine and then plunged over a cliff. That’s what was waiting for them on the other side.
But the disciples didn’t know that when Jesus said, “Let’s go to the other side”. They didn’t know what was in store. They just knew that Jesus wanted them to go from where they were, to somewhere else – to the other side.
Is Jesus asking you to go with Him to the ‘other side’? Maybe it’s time for you to move to a new level in your spiritual life. You have been hearing Jesus teach now for quite a while. You have heard His message of love and forgiveness. You know at least the basics of Scripture. You have listened to Jesus. Now what? Is Jesus saying to you, “Let’s go to the other side?”
“Let’s go to the other side” is an invitation to go with Jesus to the unknown. That “other side” will look a little different for each one of us. For some, it could be that Jesus is asking you to step up your prayer life. You have prayed in the past, but now it’s time to really dedicate yourself to prayer. For someone else, it could be that Jesus is moving you in a new direction in life. Maybe God is calling you to new levels of service. And for another person, maybe the “other side” is a call to a walk of faith, trusting the Lord to provide for you even when you don’t see how it could happen. We have been on the sea shore for a long time, and now Jesus is inviting us to go with Him to the other side; to another level; to do something that maybe we have never done before.
Our text continues: (READ v. 36).
There’s a lot in this verse for us today. The first thing I notice is that the disciples “left the crowd”. Not everyone was going to the other side. We don’t know who was in that crowd. Maybe some of the disciple’s family members were a part of the crowd. But even if they were all strangers, a crowd of people is comfortable and familiar; it’s safe. But the disciples left the crowd.
When Jesus calls you to go to the other side, that means that you will need to leave some things behind. You can’t take everything with you in the boat. Some things have to be left behind.
In order to move ahead in your faith life, what do you need to leave behind? What do you need to leave on the shore in order to grow in your spiritual life? We all probably have a different thing (or things) that need to be left behind, but let me make a few suggestions.