Music has a special way of speaking to our hearts. In cultures the world round and throughout time, music connects to our emotions and can open us up to feeling and thoughts that can profoundly move us.
How many of you have had the experience of attending a concert of your favorite musician? This past Friday, my husband and I drove out of town on busy highways to a small venue outside of Corvallis, so I could be in the presence of my favorite musician, JJ Heller and her husband, Dave. Since New Year’s Day three years ago, when I came across a video clip of a song they wrote for that specific occasion, I have been deeply moved by her lyrics and the melodies that bring to life truth that wafts in and around my heart. Makes me feel “profoundly alive”!
Maybe you have music that does the same for you. It’s the album that you put on repeat. It’s the songs on your ‘favorites’ play list that speak truth to your soul and singing along helps you face the everyday failures and crises in your life.
I live there: the daily mundane with busy routines that leave little margin for debriefing or rest and a relaxed meal. Often my day is filled with more mess than I can manage (be that physical, situational or emotional) I am bombarded with needs that I can’t meet and fears that often cause me to freak out , causing me to miss the reality of God’s abundant provision – right in front of me!
If you have ever experienced any of those feelings along with me then take courage, because as we look at God’s inspired word this morning, we are going to see that Jesus’ compassionate, authoritative, healing presence is God’s prophesied provision – for people just like us!
This is the second half of Mark chapter 6. In last week’s lesson, Mark introduced us to the theme of Jesus being a prophet. The people around the region of Galilee had begun to speculate possibilities of Jesus’ identity based on the disciples’ ministry trip: miraculous works/Kingdom message. King Herod, who had executioner’s remorse, feared that Jesus’ was the deceased prophet, John the Baptist.
Other more plausible options offered by the people were the greatly anticipated return of the prophet Elijah, return heralding the Messiah or simply, another mouthpiece of God like the great prophets of the past.
In today’s text, Mark shows Jesus, in three different settings, revealing his divine nature as a response to the questions raised about his identity.
The passage is structured around the miraculous events that take place in the three locations where Jesus and his disciples travel. In each location, Jesus’ engages people with great needs and compassionately provides for those needs abundantly.
1. Mark 6:32-44 – The compassionate presence of Jesus in a desolate place.
2. Mark 6:45-52 – The authoritative presence of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee
3. Mark 6:53-56 – The healing presence of Jesus in Gennesaret
Let’s pick up where we left off last week with the return of the disciples to Jesus after a successful mission into the surrounding countryside.
The compassionate presence of Jesus in a desolate place. (Mark 6:30-44)
Ministering with the delegated authority of Jesus, the disciples’ excursion had been full and demanding. Jesus demonstrates his care for his disciples by taking them away to eat, rest, debrief, and recharge.
32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
The crowds followed because they recognized the disciples. There may have been various motivations for following – needing to be ministered to, seeking to follow the displayed power, or just expectations of what they would find. While the disciples may have seemed disappointed, Jesus shows compassion on them.
It is here that Jesus displays his role as the Good Shepherd, and a divine source of compassion. It is not mistake that he is imaging Ezekiel 34:8 here. “…the shepherds have fed themselves and have not fed my sheep”
Jesus taught a Kingdom message.
5 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 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?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.”
The Disciples and the crowd both had a crisis of need. Jesus tells the Disciples, “You feed them” They were confused because a denarius was equivalent to a laborer’s full day’s wage. They would not have enough to buy enough food for moths.
39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people.
Some would tell you that they all just got out food they had brought with them and shared amongst themselves. That is NOT what happened here!
Jesus multiplied the bread supernaturally and the disciples participated in the distribution!
And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
Here was a miraculous sign of God’s provision and presence! I would expect that there was some speculation and gossip about the remarkable meal instantly produced for thousands!! But, Mark does not give us the response of the people and moves the narrative quickly along.
After participating in the miraculous, abundant provision of their need, the disciples are “immediately” sent away by Jesus.
The authoritative presence of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 6:45-52)
Having sent the Disciples away, Jesus himself dismisses the crowd before heading up on the mountain to pray. His prayer shows his dependence on the Father, and humanity like the disciples. Jesus’ wisdom is such that I want to have when it comes to parenting. He sent them on training missions, and sent the disciples ahead as an opportunity to grow in faith!
But, he sees their peril, and comes to them – WALKING ON THE SEA!
Read Mark 6:48 and don’t miss that last phrase: “He meant to pass them by”
This is the same phrase used in the story of the Road to Emmaus Luke 24:28 – “He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly (to stay).” This was an opportunity to express maturing faith. It is also reminiscent of Moses at Mt. Sinai in Exodus 33:19, where God passes by Moses as he is hidden in the cleft of rock. The living God comes near to men!
Disciples responded with Fear vs faith
Read Mark 6:49-51. “for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’” (emphasis mine) The translation doesn’t help the modern reader out here… (English/Greek/Hebrew) – this revelatory phrase is the same phrase that God used to reveal himself to Moses the Burning bush. Read Exodus 3:13-14.
“Then Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ And they ask me, ‘What is his name? what shall I say to them?” (v14) “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am, I am has sent me to you.”
Read on in Mark 6:51
“And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased…and they were utterly astounded, …
This brings to mind Isaiah 41:13 and 43:1-2 where God’s revealed presence is a help, “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you…” The authoritative presence of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee is God’s provision for the terror-stricken disciples!
BUT WAIT!!! Read Mark 6:52
Don’t miss the reason they were terror-stricken: “…for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.”
What was it that they didn’t understand? Jesus was revealing his character to them according to the pattern, expectations, and prophetic revelation of the OT. He was revealing that he meets the expectation of a final prophet.
Jesus embodies all the elements of prophetic activity:
• God’s spokesperson,
• Message: repentance/kingdom/judgement,
• miraculous signs,
Jesus pursues with Prophetic purpose: God fulfilling his covenant – permanent oneness with him! Ezekiel 34:15 “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God.” He is the final prophet – God himself with his people, speaking his word directly
Jesus is the power and prophetic Word of God himself, Moses was a mediator…
Deut. 34:12. Moses functioned as a unique lawgiver for God’s people, whose revelation was confirmed by many miraculous signs Moses brought the law, the purpose of which was to: 1) show God’s nature 2) show we are not God! However, Jesus fulfilled the law by his perfect life!
Moses provided bread for their fathers in the wilderness, and Jesus miraculously provided bread (physical and spiritual) in the wilderness for hungry people.
So much of this passage is a foreshadowing of future events:
• Passover meal, my body broken for you…
• do this in remembrance of me – foreshadowing the church
• As creator of all things, Jesus totally different essence than Moses the servant.
• Moses delivered God’s word to his people;
• Jesus IS the very word of God to his people – taught the people 1st
• Moses functioned as a servant/leader of God to His people,
• Jesus is God’s unique son and is creator/author of God’s people – displayed on the Sea of Galilee!
Deut. 18:15, 18
• “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from our brothers – it is to him you shall listen… I will raise up
• Moses – sent to lead the Israelites out of bondage from Egypt
• Jesus – sent to lead people from all nations out of spiritual bondage to SIN!
This is the gospel, that he who is greater than Moses, Jesus, accomplished the reconciliation of God and his people through his death on the cross as payment for the penalty of their sins, and his resurrection as confirmation of its sufficiency.
The disciples missed what Jesus was revealing about his nature and identity. Their terror-stricken response is appropriate for faithless people to the presence of holy God! They should fear judgement!
Instead of surrendering to Jesus’ divine revelation by faith, they relied on their own understanding, struggled in their own strength and missed the reality of God’s abundant provision in the presence of Jesus – right in front of them!
So, let me ask:
• Where are you rejecting Jesus’ authority in your life?
• Is there somewhere in your life that you are struggling on your own to address a difficult circumstance?
• Do you find yourself acting in fear rather than faith in light of our present cultural chaos?
Friend, don’t miss the GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL!!
The disciples did NOT see their error, they had hard hearts. And yet, Jesus came to them, continued to reveal his divine nature to them and climbed into the boat with them
Jesus’ compassionate, authoritative presence is God’s provision for faithless, hard-hearted, struggling disciples and the likes of you and me!
In the final section, Mark gives us a contrast to the disciples hardened hearts.
The healing presence of Jesus in Gennesaret (Mark 6:53-56)
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
We see the eager faith of the people in Gennesaret, bringing the sick to Jesus, begging him to heal them by just a touch of him and it serves as a contrast to the disciples’ faithless response and lack of humility in the midst of their great struggle on the water in the authoritative presence of Jesus.
It also serves as a bookend contrast with the start to Chapter 6, from last week’s lesson. Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth, and reveled his character through teaching in the synagogue. The people marveled, yet did not believe his claims. Instead, they took offence and rejected him. Jesus did NO mighty works because of their unbelief.
In Gennesaret, we see the eager response of faith Jesus’ abundant healing here offers a contrasting bookend to the whole chapter.
Jesus’ compassionate, authoritative, healing presence is God’s prophesied provision – to save those who recognize him by faith. So, how will you respond to Jesus’ presence today? Who will you encourage with the good news of Jesus’ Greater-than-Moses nature?