Tuesday, March 27, 2012
All We Need and A Little More
For my personal devotions I am reading in Mark and something new struck me in chapter 6 this week. In verse 31 Christ tells the disciples, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.
I can relate. Some of my days are just like that. You end up with a headache or feel lethargic and it dawns on you that you haven't even eaten all day because you've been so busy. I love that the Bible is filled with everyday life. The disciples had been serving others and not thinking of themselves.
Christ knew they needed some time away from the crowd so he put them in a boat to go to the other side. Verse 33 says, "But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them (on the other side) and came together to Him."
You see the desperation of the people who want their loved ones healed or who want to hear what the Savior has to say. It's compelling. The disciples, who are human, are serving. I think it's safe to assume they never pictured following of Christ to this extent. They are pouring out all their strength for strangers. It's compelling, but it's draining too. Can you relate?
Verses 32 - 44 tell about the feeding of the 5,000. The disciples scouted the crowd, which could have been as large as 20,000, and found that the only available food was five loaves and two fish. We love the miracle Christ does in this circumstance. We see Him provide for the needs of the people, who out of earnest pursuit have followed Jesus and His followers to a deserted place, without thinking about food. Christ is compassionate and feeds them. He has ministered to their physical and spiritual needs. It's a story we love to tell our children.
Verse 45 says, "Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while He sent the multitude away." It truly is time for a break...for everyone. The crowd needs to return home, Christ goes to a mountain to pray and the disciples are going to travel through the night to another side of the lake. Can you imagine their exhaustion? I can almost feel it in the words of Mark.
In the last few hours before dawn, while the disciples are rowing and straining against the wind, Christ goes out of His way to walk on the sea right by their boat. They are freaked out! They think they see a ghost, but Christ tells them not to be afraid. He says, "Be of good cheer! It is I...." He then gets into the boat and the wind ceases.
I love the next verses (51b & 52), "And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened." We so piously think, "Good grief, guys, how could you have missed the meaning of the loaves!" But might they have been focused on themselves and their weariness? They are hungry, tired, fighting a wind in the wee hours of the morning. They know tomorrow will be the same thing. Tell me, would you have responded differently?
Had miracles become so commonplace they failed to see Christ? Christ graciously demonstrated an even great command of nature by walking on the sea for their understanding. He didn't have to, but He wanted them to see Himself...not themselves, not those whom they served, not even the miracles, but HIMSELF. He says, "Be of good cheer! It is I...."
I love how the Lord is always willing to reveal Himself. He isn't stingy in His willingness to listen to us, to walk with us and to love us. He gives us all we need and then adds a little more. While I feel compassion for the disciples in Mark 6, I'm also a little envious that they got to sit with the Savior and be amazed beyond measure until I realize, if I'm open to it, I can do the same thing.
Emmanuel: God with us! May you see Him today!