Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mark 6 and John 6 - Manna For The Mission

Scripture Mark 6:31-44
And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves. Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, "This is a lonely place, and the hour is now late; send them away, to go into the country and villages round about and buy themselves something to eat." But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." And they said to him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?" And he said to them, "How many loaves have you? Go and see." And when they had found out, they said, "Five, and two fish." Then he commanded them all to sit down by companies upon the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties.

I will be looking at John 6 and Mark 6:31 and following and blend them together as they re speaking of the same event.
Jesus has been teaching all day with the multitudes and He goes up into the hills.
It is the time of Passover, John 6 tells us, which commemorates the unleavened bread that they ate, the Passover meal and the Exodus wilderness wandering and journey.
They are up into the hills trying to get some time alone after running a big "conference" with 5000 plus people.
Peter and the Apostles are exhausted with doing crowd control.
Jesus looks down and sees the crowd hasn't left.
Peter says to Jesus "What are we going to do with these people?"

Jesus says "You go feed them".

Then Philip says "Do you know how much it would cost to feed them, more than two hundred denarii?" (Days' wages: literally, "denarii"; a Roman denarius is a day's wage in Matthew 20:2)

Jesus says "What food do you have?"
There is no response and then Jesus says "Go and look!"

Andrew comes back and says Lord we found a boy with five barley loaves and two fish.
They must be thinking this won't even feed the twelve, lets forget this idea.
Jesus says call the people and get them into groups of fifty.

Mark 6:41-44 reads
And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

Jesus blesses the bread/gives thanks in John 6 (and the word for "giving thanks" in Greek is Eucharist) and then He gives the bread to the Disciples.

The disciples take the little bread (that they can hold to distribute) and go out and give all that they have and then they come back and Jesus has more.
There is more bread.
Then they keep going out giving the little they have and then there is more and more.
They keep giving the little they have and there is more.

A whole multitude is fed.
There are twelve baskets of the fragments left over.
What is the lesson in this?

Scripture Mark 6:37-38
But he answered them, "You give them something to eat."
And they said to him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?"
And he said to them, "How many loaves have you?
Go and see."
And when they had found out, they said, "Five, and two fish."

The lesson is Jesus calls the Twelve "You go feed the multitude."
They must be thinking we can't do that. That is impossible. That is crazy talk.
But Jesus says go and feed them.
They take the little they have even though it is so inadequate.
Five loaves and two little fish to feed the multitude 'in a banquet dinner' is totally inadequate.

How do you think the disciples felt, when they were asked to do so much with so little?
Guess what? That is how God works.
God loves to ask us for mission.
I don't have the gifts to do this. I am not dynamic. I’m not funny. I'm not cool.
I don't have the brains or the talents.

What we do is we compare ourselves to others and say to God "You have got the wrong person."

That is what Moses said when he first met God.
God said to Moses to go to Egypt, lead my people and bring them back here.
That would be a bad idea.
Moses said I am not very good at speaking. I stutter at times. I am not very persuasive.
But God said I will be with your mouth. Who made your mouth? Who made you?
I'll be with you.
God chooses people not for their gifts but for their character, even with a broken character and raise them up and give them character.

In other words, the miracle of the bread is that the Disciples gave the little they had to Jesus - they gave it away and it was multiplied.
The little we have will never be multiplied unless we give it away for Jesus.
Give the little we have in trust and do what God is calling us for, even though it is bigger than us.

God can multiply.

Scripture John 6:7-14
Philip answered him, "Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little (bit)." One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?" Jesus said, "Have the people recline." Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, "Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted." So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, "This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world."

So the lesson here is not simply that the manna for the mission is what we need to sustain our mission to the promised land, but here Jesus is teaching the disciples "You are not adequate for the mission, to serve and lead others
You don't have what it takes. You don't have the money, the resources, the talent, the gifting but that doesn't matter because you have got me.

You plus God comes out pretty well.

What we do is, we do a human calculation.

All my gifting and talents, my education, who I am, plus plus plus come out to five loaves.
That's it.

We have to do Gods maths - all of our talents and gifts equals five plus God is infinity.
Five times X.

That is what we forget.
We don't know the heavenly algebra.
That is the problem.
That is what the disciples had to learn.

Scripture Mark 6:45-46

[45] Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Beth-sa'ida, while he dismissed the crowd.
[46] And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
After the multiplication of the bread, Jesus immediately takes the Disciples away.

You can imagine their heads are getting a bit big at this stage.
The Apostles are looking pretty good.
They must be thinking how much they distributed.
Rather than thanking God, we let our heads grow.

They obey and get in the boat and go.
Jesus dismisses the crowd and He spends the rest of the night in gratitude to His Father, giving thanks to God.

Scripture Mark 6:47-50

[47] And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land.
[48] And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them,
[49] but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out;
[50] for they all saw him, and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear."

The fishermen are using every trick they know to get across the lake.
They are scared because they think Jesus is a ghost.
What do the twelve tough guys do?
They cry out.
Immediately Jesus speaks to them - take heart it is I and have no fear

When you read the Gospel of Mark you are going to see a contrast.
Fears versus faith.

The question is: Are you going to give into the fears or are you going to stand up and respond in faith?
You life will either be moulded in fear or faith - it will be one or the other.

In the world, those who don't know God shape their life around fear.

We are called to walk by faith.

Why must we take heart and have no fear?
Because of who Jesus is.

That is the reason why we have to take heart, have courage and have no fear.
Not who we are because you will come up with five.
If you are doing the maths looking at your life and come up with the five that mean you are looking at your human gifting and what you have on your own.
We have to take five times x - and come up with infinity.
That is the calculation of faith.
The calculation of fear is five.

Scripture Mark 6:51-52
[51] And he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased……

And Jesus got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. How cool is that.

Peter and the other fishermen couldn't get anywhere because of the wind.
Jesus gets in the boat and the wind stops and they move forward.
How often that happens in our lives where we are not getting anywhere.
We are fighting against things, against circumstances and we are getting nowhere.
We are no closer to happiness and all of a sudden we allow Jesus in the boat and all of a sudden we are sailing again. We are moving ahead.

Then we read an odd statement in Mark and most people miss this.

[51] …... And they were utterly astounded,
[52] for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
They didn't get it about the bread.
Now they are utterly astounded when Jesus gets in the boat. The wind ceases.
Everything is working out OK.
They are dumb founded. They don't get it.
And Mark tells us that they didn't get it, because they didn't get it about the loaves!

(Tim accentuates this point)
How could they not get it about the loaves?
They were the ones right there!

They were the ones right in the middle of the miracle.
They saw the bread multiplied.
Did they believe it was multiplied? Absolutely!
But still they didn't get it about the loaves.

What does that mean?
Because their hearts were hard.

This is the Twelve.
When talking about hard hearts, Mark is not talking about their arteries and their cholesterol level.
There is something spiritual there still.
Mark is telling us, he is warning us, we are like the Disciples.
We think we really know Jesus really well. We have grown up hearing about Jesus and hearing the Gospel.
Learning about God and we think we really know Him we think we are there and Mark is saying you have got more to learn.

And what is more you it doesn't matter how close you are to Jesus like Peter and the boys, you can still have a spiritual hard heart that God wants to break through.

(Earlier in his talk Tim discussed the manna in the Old Testament as follows, which to some degree I thought fits in OK at this point):
On the way from captivity, bondage and slavery in Egypt to the promised land - home, Moses has to bring God’s people through the wilderness.
If you are going to walk with God you are going to walk through the wilderness.

So God gives his people something special to get them through the wilderness wandering.
In Exodus 16 we find the people have been wandering for a number of weeks and they are in the wilderness they come to a place where they begin to run out of food and they are going hungry.

(Tim accentuates this point)
Now these are the people who saw the Ten Plagues!
They saw the Red Sea parting!

And they despair and they lose hope.

They complain to Moses, that he brought them out into the wilderness to kill them, their children and their cattle.
So they are murmuring and complaining and despairing.

God rains down manna from heaven on the condition that it is enough for one day.
Some of them tried to hoard more than a days worth and it rotted.

There is a lesson learned here, in that God will give them their daily bread and no more.

You will be given enough for one day and then the next day and then the next day.
Everyday God’s people, in the midst of the wilderness has to rely on God coming through for them and the whole idea of the manna coming through daily is that God wants to teach His people to trust.
God is saying I can come through for you every day.
What we want to do is for God to come through for us every once in a while so it can last us for a long time.
We want that security. We long for security.
And God is saying I will give you enough for now and no more.

That is one of the key lessons of the manna in the wilderness.

Scripture Mark.8: 14
[14] Now they had forgotten to bring bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.

Now in the next scene in Mark chapter 8 again Jesus is teaching again and there is a multitude.
They are ready for feeding the 4000 and they have seven loaves this time and Jesus says "Go feed them" and there is the multiplication of loaves again.
And then Jesus gets them in the boat and they all take off together in the boat right away.
They have got to be careful of swelling head syndrome that happens after you are successful.

Hey that was because of me!

But it is all Jesus and yet we love to take credit.

When they get in the boat a discussion breaks out.

We are told that after the multiplication of the bread there were seven baskets full of bread left over this time.
Now they didn’t forget to bring just any bread.
They forgot to bring the seven baskets of the “wonder bread”, the miraculous bread that got multiplied.

And they only had one loaf with them in the boat.
[16] And they discussed it with one another, saying, "We have no bread."

Scripture Mark.8: 16-21
[16] And they discussed it with one another, saying, "We have no bread."
[17] And being aware of it, Jesus said to them, "Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
[18] Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?
[19] When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" They said to him, "Twelve."
[20] "And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" And they said to him, "Seven."
[21] And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"

Jesus says for the second time in the Gospel of Mark “Are your hearts hardened?”

What is it they do not get?

Now how much bread is in the boat with them?
[14] Now they had forgotten to bring bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.

One loaf.

Now they forgot to bring any bread and yet they have one loaf with them in the boat and they discuss among themselves that they have no bread and Jesus says why do you discuss that you have no bread?

Now wait a minute, how much bread do they have?

There is one loaf in the boat with them but they are talking about the fact that they have no bread.
Jesus recognises that and says to them “Why do you discuss why you have no bread?”

So they think they don’t have any bread and yet we know, the narrator tells us, that they have one loaf.

Jesus says ‘Do you not yet perceive or understand? Having eyes do you not see?’

What don’t they understand?
Where is the loaf of bread?

The loaf of bread in the boat is Jesus.

The same event of the first miracle of the multiplication of loaves followed immediately by Jesus walking on the sea in the Gospel of Mark is found in John 6.
Straight after these ‘events’ Jesus says in John 6:48-51

[48] I am the bread of life.
[51] I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."

They discuss the fact they have no bread despite the fact that Jesus is in the boat with them.
They don’t get it about the bread and what Mark wants to teach us in his Gospel is, if you don’t get it about the bread you do not understand Jesus Christ because Jesus and the bread go together.

You have eyes but you are not really seeing and you have ears but are not really hearing.
You are not yet perceiving or understanding yet about who God is. You are just not getting it.

Jesus is the bread of life. It is a radical thing and to see it we have to do what Paul says in Ephesians 1:18 to see with the eyes of your heart.

Scripture Mark 8:22-25
And they came to Beth-sa'ida. And some people brought to him a blind man, and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village; and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, "Do you see anything?" And he looked up and said, "I see men; but they look like trees, walking." Then again he laid his hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly.

One of the fascinating things that happens here is that right after this discussion they encounter a blind man in a village and Jesus took him out of the village put spit on the blind mans eye and the man can now see but they look like trees walking.

Now the miracle doesn’t take and Jesus has to do it again for him to get his vision.
What’s going on? Why doesn’t the miracle take?
Jesus is the Son of God, all powerful but it gives the impression that Jesus botched the healing.
Has that ever bothered you?

Obviously, Jesus doesn’t botch the miracle.
Jesus can heal the first time.
So why doesn’t Jesus heal the man 100% the first time?
Some people it is because of the blind mans faith but it doesn’t say anything in the story that he didn’t have enough faith.

No. Jesus heals him in stages because He is healing the disciples in stages and giving them sight.

We would be myopic readers and blind if we didn’t catch the fact that after Jesus says to the disciples “having eyes do you not see” Jesus then goes and heals a blind man.

Who is really blind in the story?
The disciples.
And what Jesus is doing is healing them in stages so that they can get a better vision of who Jesus is and what He has to do.

Source: Manna for the Mission talk given by Professor Tim Gray at a FOCUS Conference

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