Jesus Our Provider (Mark 6:35-44)


The famous “Feeding of the Five Thousand” miracle is sometimes over-applied, but the main idea of this story is hard to miss. Recorded in all four gospels, the multiplication of the bread and fish to feed a great crowd showed the apostles and Christians ever since that the Lord Jesus provides for our physical needs.

The Text (Mark 6:35-44)

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.”
And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?”
38 But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.”
And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.”
39 Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. 41 And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all. 42 So they all ate and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.


Explanation
The crowds had traveled about eight miles on foot in one day to see Jesus. They had spent the afternoon listening to Him teach. But now the day was ending, they were far from home, and they were very hungry. The 12 disciples look at the crowd of about 20,000 famished people (five thousand men plus and an unknown number of women and children) and logically conclude that these folks must be sent away. It would costs tens of thousands of dollars in today’s numbers to fees this group. The apostles simply don’t have the money to buy dinner for so many. But they forget that they have Jesus. The Lord sees the same difficult situation as them, but with eyes of faith.

Jesus challenges the disciples to feed the crowd. They have seen Jesus do every kind of miracle, including raising a girl from the dead. They themselves have just returned from a ministry tour where they cast out demons and healed people in support of their gospel preaching. He wants to see if they will take another step of faith and trust God to miraculously provide for this seemingly gigantic need. But the apostles struggle in their faith, so Jesus shows them what He can do when they place just a little in His hands. He multiplies a meager lunch for one (five dinner rolls and two small fish) into enough food for an arena-sized crowd. Significantly, there are exactly 12 smalls baskets full of food leftover at the end; one for each disciple to eat dinner, too. The Lord had provided for the needs of both the served and the servants.

 
Challenge
The big idea of this passage is that Jesus provides for our material needs. We know that He is the “Bread” of our spiritual life, but He also gives us the “daily bread” that we need for our physical survival. Our food, our homes, our clothing; the Lord provides it all. To be a Christian is to be a person who gives God all of the credit and glory for what we have. All of our things are good gifts from our good Heavenly Father. As we grow in Christ, we learn more and more how much we truly need our Lord’s provision. We learn to depend on Him more and ourselves less. We learn that apart from Jesus we can truly do nothing, but in Christ we can do much. Faith is trust and reliance on God; it grows as we exercise it over time. Like the 12 disciples, when we call out to Jesus in prayer and then see Him do great things in our lives and the lives of those around us, our confidence in His provision grows. The Provider becomes bigger and bigger and our needs seems smaller and smaller by comparison. I pray that we would ask for and believe in God’s provision today and every day.

In Christ,

Mr. Reel 

Rest and Ministry (Mark 6:30-34)


Today’s passage is short but important. We see that Christ’s disciples must learn to rest in Him so that we may have His joy as we serve others in His name.

The Text (Mark 6:30-34)
30 Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. 31 And He said to them, “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. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.


33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.

Explanation
The disciples have just returned from their ministry tour and they are physically and spiritually exhausted. Jesus encourages them to come away with Him to a deserted place to rest. They need sleep, food, and time with the Lord. If Jesus Himself needed time to be alone with the Father, how much more did His disciples. Yet they cannot rest for long. As they sail across on a boat to their chosen spot, Mark tells us that the multitudes had recognized Jesus and ran ahead of the small group, beating them to their “deserted place.” No rest for the weary! The disciples would be justified in asking the crowds to go away for at least one day, to give them a chance to recover from their missionary journeys. But Jesus looks out at the crowds, and the Son of God has compassion for their poor souls. The Good Shepherd cannot ignore the lost and wandering sheep that are so desperate for His help.

 
Challenge
Every Christian must learn how to balance rest in Christ with service to Christ. If we spend too much working for Jesus and not enough time alone with Him in quiet prayer and meditation on His Word, we will become exhausted and lose His power and love in our ministry. But we cannot spend time in honest fellowship with Jesus without being moved with compassion for the people in our lives who need Him, too. When we obey God by lovingly reaching out to people who need spiritual help, our devotional lives gain fresh fire and passion, which in turn strengthens our witness for Christ. Since my own salvation experience, I have never felt closer to God than right after preaching or sharing the gospel with people who need to be saved. There is a special joy that we find when we get God’s heart for the spiritually dead and broken. He went to the cross for the lost sheep. He went to the cross for you and me. Not because we were loveable, because we were not. Jesus laid down His life for His sheep simply because He loved us. I pray that God gives us both rest in Him and His heart for others today.

In Christ,
Mr. Reel 

Death of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29)


Mark breaks up his account of the 12 disciples’ first ministry tour to tell the sobering story of John the Baptist’s martyrdom. We see in John’s death that faithfulness to God can lead us to suffering and possibly death. But it is better to suffer now and enter life than to live with the guilty conscience of people like Herod Antipas, who love their sin more than God and fail to do what they know is right.

The Text (Mark 6:14-29)
14 Now King Herod heard of Him, for His name had become well known. And he said, “John the Baptist is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.”


15 Others said, “It is Elijah.


And others said, “It is the Prophet, or like one of the prophets.”


16 But when Herod heard, he said, “This is John, whom I beheaded; he has been raised from the dead!” 17 For Herod himself had sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married her. 18 Because John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”


19 Therefore Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; 20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
21 Then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee. 22 And when Herodias’ daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you.” 23 He also swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”


24 So she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?”


And she said, “The head of John the Baptist!”


25 Immediately she came in with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
26 And the king was exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her. 27 Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in prison, 28 brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. 29 When his disciples heard of it, they came and took away his corpse and laid it in a tomb.

Explanation
Jesus and His disciples have now become famous enough in Galilee to draw the attention of the local ruler who serves Rome, Herod Antipas. This Herod was one of several sons of Herod the Great, the powerful king who had renovated the temple of Jerusalem and tried to kill the baby/toddler Jesus. Herod Antipas was not as strong as Herod the Great, ruling just a portion of his father’s former lands. He seems to have been a weak and fearful ruler controlled by others. He unlawfully married his still living half-brother’s wife (she left her husband to marry him). This woman Herodias was also his niece by another of his half-brothers, so Herod Antipas was guilty of incest (marrying family) and of helping a woman to divorce her husband so that she could marry him. The prophet John the Baptist was outraged that the ruler of Galilee could openly sin so wickedly, so he had continually rebuked Herod Antipas in his preaching until Herod had arrested and imprisoned him. Yet even in his sin, Herod recognized that John was a righteous and godly man and he did not want to have him killed. Like Pontius Pilate will be with Jesus, Herod was torn between his guilty conscience and his fear of man (what other people want him to do). It is only after much drinking and a foolish oath that Herod finally gets trapped by his wife and her daughter into giving the order to execute John.

 
Challenge
Mark gives us this story to honor John’s sacrifice but also to foreshadow the death of Christ and later His disciples at the hands of ungodly people. Jesus was totally innocent, yet the religious leaders led the Romans and the crowds to demand His brutal death on the cross. 11 of the 12 disciples would all die for their faith in Christ, as would many early Christians during the first 300 years of church history. Today, innocent Christians in areas of Asia and Africa continue to suffer unlawful violence, imprisonment, and sometimes death for their faith in Christ. In the United States, we do not yet face that level of persecution. However, the peer pressure to not follow Christ is all around us in our schools, workplaces, and communities. We must remember that the Christian life will require us to make sacrifices. We may need to give up the approval of friends, teammates, or family to follow Christ in what we do and don’t do. We have to be willing to take a stand for Christ when called upon. We don’t seek out persecution, but we cannot run from it. To be Christ’s disciples, we must be willing to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him. As Paul reminds us, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (1 Timothy 3:12). Where is God calling upon you to take a stand for Him today? Praying that He gives us all the strength to follow Jesus wherever He leads.

In Christ,

Mr. Reel 

On Mission for Jesus (Mark 6:7-13)

Today’s passage discusses when Jesus sent His 12 disciples out on their first ministry tour without Him. While we are not the apostles, we are Christ’s disciples, too, so we see some examples in their mission that we can follow.

The Text (Mark 6:7-13)
7 And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. 8 He commanded them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bag, no bread, no copper in their money belts— 9 but to wear sandals, and not to put on two tunics.

10 Also He said to them, “In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. 11 And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”
12 So they went out and preached that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.

Explanation
After rejection by the people of His hometown of Nazareth, Jesus goes on a ministry tour of the surrounding towns. At some point during or after this circuit trip, Jesus sends out His 12 closest disciples on a ministry tour of their own. They go out in pairs for mutual support and spiritual strength. But they go without Jesus; they must test out their ministry wings like new birds who must finally leave the nest to learn how to fly. The disciples follow Jesus’ example. They preach a message of repentance and we can assume also faith, because Jesus always called people to turn from their sins to something better, namely God and His kingdom. Jesus gives them the supernatural power to cast out demons and heal the sick in His name. Finally, they also follow Jesus’ ministry model of lingering to give greater ministry to those who receive them and their message, while walking away in judgment from those who reject the gospel. The instructions to travel light would force the disciples to trust God to provide for their needs each day, especially through the faithful families that joyfully accept these ambassadors of Christ.

Challenge

We as Christians today are not the original 12 disciples, so we must be careful with how we apply this passage to our own ministry service. These men were the apostles, specially chosen by Jesus to found His church after His death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven. They were given authority to write the books of the New Testament and to do great miracles to prove the truth and power of the gospel. There are no apostles still alive today. But as Christians, we are disciples or followers of Christ. We should also be on mission for the Lord. Jesus has made us His ambassadors of peace, sent out to offer peace with God through repentance and faith in our Savior (check out 2 Corinthians 5:20-21). We must be careful not to condemn those who reject the gospel; that is not our place and people who reject Christ now may yet turn to Him later and joyfully remember our witnessing to them. However, we are wise to be sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our efforts to make disciples. When we see people open to the gospel, we should lovingly and wisely press the issue with them as God leads. What does that look like? People who are hurting or going through a great trial may suddenly become interested in finding the meaning of life and hope in the midst of their pain. People who seem bored or discontented with life may show themselves open to finding the real purpose of their existence. We find out where people are spiritually by really listening to them, praying for them, and talking with them about life. I pray that God will guide us into embracing the mission of personal evangelism that He has given us. Help us, Lord, to see Your work in the lives of those in our circles of influence, and help us to obey by joining You where you lead.

In Christ,
Mr. Reel

Rejected By His Own (Mark 6:1-6)


Today’s text is sad and surprising, even to Jesus. Despite all the great miracles He had done, Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth rejected Him when He stopped there on His ministry tour. Even today, we still see that a lack of faith will keep people from the joy of seeing the Savior work. 

The Text (Mark 6:1-6)
1 Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. 2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him.

4 But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” 5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.
Explanation
Jesus has just done His greatest miracle yet – raising a little girl from the dead. Mark tells us that He returns home to Nazareth, and we expect to see His hometown welcome Him as its hero. Instead, when the people of Nazareth hear Him teach in the synagogue, they reject Jesus. They simply will not believe that a humble carpenter could be the Son of a God. They will not accept His authority to teach them from the Scriptures. The people of Nazareth are offended at His ministry and message. They may even be attacking Him as an illegitimate son because they refer to Jesus as the son of Mary rather than the son of his father Joseph (remember that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit before she married Joseph). They know Jesus’ four brothers (who are named) and his sisters (unknown number and names), who according to other evidence in the New Testament and early church history were not believers at this time (back in Mark 2:21, Jesus’ family actually said that they thought He was “out of His mind”). In their pride, the people of Nazareth will not look past human appearances to make a righteous judgment about Jesus based on His godly character, miracles, and teachings

It is hard to understand why Jesus’ own people reject Him, but they suffer for their unbelief. Jesus does only a few healings in Nazareth and then leaves to preach and teach in other towns that will be more receptive to the gospel. In tomorrow’s passage, we will see Jesus instruct His disciples to follow His example, staying to minister where they are welcome but “shaking off the dust” of the places that reject them. We don’t know exactly what Mark means by saying that Jesus “could do no mighty work” in Nazareth. Jesus was always God and His power could never be limited by people. Yet Jesus often taught that great faith would lead to God doing great things. At the same time, He rebuked people for their lack of faith throughout His ministry. Unbelief is always linked with sin and hardness of heart in the Scriptures. By the words of the people of Nazareth, we see not so much an inability to believe as a desire not to believe in Jesus. Their sin is their conscious, intentional turning away of the Son of God. The tragic consequence is that Jesus gives them their wish and leaves them, moving on to help those who want Him.
 

Challenge
I think that Jesus marveled that day in Nazareth at the very thing that should still marvel us today – the incredible hardness of the human heart. The historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is powerful (if you are not sure about this, check out Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ”). The testimonies and lives of Christians who have been changed by Jesus cannot be denied. The beauty and design of nature cry out to us that there is a Creator, while our guilty consciences convict us that we have sinned against that Creator and need His forgiveness. God’s mercy and patience for lost sinners to come to Him is so great, His graces that He shows all of us so many. And think of how many people still reject Jesus today. With tears we witness to lost friends and family, to lost teammates , classmates, or students, praying that God would break their hard hearts of stone and make them understand the gospel. We marvel that people could be so foolish as to not see the danger their souls face and the awesome salvation that God offers. So does Jesus. But we must believe that our prayers matter and keep on interceding for those whom God lays on our hearts. God is the One who saves people, but He uses our witness and prayers to do it.

Even for us as Christians,we can still be tempted to doubt our Savior’s power or goodness or wisdom. No one really understands how prayer works. But we know from the Word and our own experience that when we pray, we exercise our faith and our trust in the Lord grows. And even once we are believers, our faith or lack of it is still linked with our hearts. When we desire Jesus more, we pray more for Him to work in and around our lives and we witness His work. When our hearts turn after other things, our desire for Jesus diminishes and we pray less, and then God seems more distant. I pray that Jesus would be near to us today as we put our trust in Him. 
 
In Christ,

Mr. Reel