Sunday, February 23, 2014

Walking in the Impossible

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Sunday, February 23, 2014:  Mark 6:30-56

35 When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.”  37 But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.”  Mark 6:35-37 (NKJV)

A Massive Miracle

God always calls us to do the impossible.  He orchestrates a situation totally beyond our capabilities, then expects us to rise to the occasion.  On face value, that sounds cruel -- something like telling a lame person to run a 4 minute mile.  You might think He's setting you up for embarrassment and failure.  But, He's not!!

One of the greatest miracles Jesus performed was the feeding of the 5,000.  This is the only miracle, other than the resurrection, recorded in all four Gospels.  There in no event in the life of Jesus that had more immediate public effect.  Mark tells us he fed 5,000 men (Mark 6:44) -- not include women and children.  We can only guess at how large the total crowd was that day.  Surely, it was in excess of 15,000 people.  We know children were there because John tells us that the loaves and fishes came from a small boy (John 6:9). 

There is no miracle that Jesus performed that had more mass impact.  He usually touched a leper or a blind person.  He raised Lazarus, but the crowd was limited to the folks who tagged along as He arrived at the tomb 4 days late.  Fifteen to twenty thousand people is a small town!  No wonder the Zealots wanted Him to become the new king replacing Rome.

Facing Impossible Circumstances

But, the miracle is not about political power or social impact.  It's about how God works.  Here's the way the story unfolds: 

1. Jesus and his disciples are exhausted.  They head out to the boonies to get away. 

2. It didn't work.  The crowd followed them out there. 

3. Jesus had compassion.  The disciples seemed to be distressed.

4. There are no sources of food in this desolate place, so the disciples want Jesus to expressly send the crowd home.

5. Jesus commands the disciples to feed this mass of people right there on the spot.

This is an impossible situation. Have you ever felt like this?  You are exhausted to the point of breaking.  You try to get away.  But, the work follows you.  Then, God calls you to do something you are utterly incapable of doing.  It seems as if God is playing "pile on" with you.

Walking with Jesus is a SUPERNATURAL LIFE.  It will press you beyond your own strength -- but that is so you can trust in His strength.  Repeatedly, Jesus commands His disciples to do the impossible.  And He calls you to do that which is beyond your ability.

You are the Loaves and Fishes

We, then, become like the five loaves and two fishes.  Mark 6:41 tells us He did four things with this meager offering.

1. He TOOK it.
2. He BLESSED it.
3. He BROKE it.
4. He GAVE it.

That's what He does with you and me.  First, He takes you.  He calls your name.  He lays His claim on you and you become His. 

Second, He blesses you.  You learn of His goodness and grace.  You enjoy His benefits, His forgiveness, and His favor.

Third, and very importantly, He breaks you.  He takes you to the limit of your ability.  He teaches you that you must die and allow Him to live in you.  He breaks your self-will and replaces it with His divine will.  He leads you to the crucified life, so that you can say with Paul, "I am crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me.  And, the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). 

Lastly, He gives you.  What does this mean?  He sets you out as a picture of what He can do.  You find out that you are NOTHING (that's the breaking).  Then He shows the world what He can do with NOTHING. 

More Than Enough

This story starts with "not having enough."  It ends with "more than enough."  At the beginning, the disciples are worn out and without resources to meet the needs.  At the end, the excess from the feast amounts to 12 baskets full (Mark 6:43).  There were 12 disciples.  One basket full of food was left over as a "carry out" for each of the 12.  It is an impossible development.  It is a display of God's power.  It is a lesson to us about walking with Jesus.

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