0962 Mk.6.30-44 Hard-hearted Blindness Continues Pt.1

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Often we think faith is in need of quantitative change. That is, more faith is needed. Here in this passage, we see that Jesus is looking for qualitative change. That is, a better quality faith. On a scale of 1-10, faith in Jesus should be of the calibre of an 11.

With the theory of evolution, the world has tried to remove God as our Creator
With the rise of psychology, many strains have sort to remove God as our counsellor & healer
With the rise of Gender theory, the world is seeking to destroy God’s image in Man
Genesis 1:27 NASB95
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
There is a bill before the parliament in Qld to erase the name “Maternity Leave” in favour of “long birth-related leave” and “pregnant employee”
“Queensland employers will no longer be allowed to use the terms “maternity leave” or “her” and will instead be forced to adopt gender-neutral terms “long birth-related leave” and “pregnant employee.” (https://www.theepochtimes.com/queenslands-bid-to-replace-maternity-leave-with-birth-related-leave-under-scrutiny_4833385.html)
The whole idea of gender neutral terms is ludicrous - only women can have babies
But, what we need to see here, is not only an attack against mothers, it is another sinister attack from Satan - rightly called the evil one - attempting to erase/cancel/destroy God from the world
God’s image is manifest in Man as male & female
To erase the genders is to distort God’s image & purposes for the world He created
The remedy for all these distortions is to understand that Jesus Christ is the only One who can save - the only One who is able to rescue us from being pawns of Satan
To rescue us from this terrible slavery to sinfulness, to corruption, to warped views of the world & of life
That He, Jesus, is the One who has the power to fix our situation because, as we will see, He can do the impossible
Acts 2:32 NASB95
32 “This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses.
This awesome, most powerful, Jesus is the Saviour of the world & can be Saviour to every human being, if they are willing to accept Him

1. Attempts to Rest

Jesus had sent out the 12 on a mission where they were to rely on nothing but the provision of God as they went
But after that robust &, perhaps, scary entry into the world of mission where they had to be on their own without Jesus, when they return, Jesus has them go away with Him on a retreat
When He sent out the 70 on a similar mission, they came back all excited - hyped/pumped
Luke 10:17–20 NASB95
17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. 19 “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. 20 “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
It certainly could have been an occasion for arrogance - even the demons are under my control
But Jesus says that the point of joy should be that your names are written in heaven
In our passage, today, the 12 have come back & reported to Jesus what they had done & taught
Remember that Jesus is with them &, as such, will sovereignly provide for them which He did
But there is an occasion for RNR (rest & recreation)
Well, you’d hope wouldn’t you
But as we all know, Christian mission & work doesn’t always work with the calendar & our plans do get subverted by the needs of the kingdom
These very needs, time & again, came up which gave Jesus & His disciples little rest
If you recall, in chp.3, Jesus goes home with His disciples, but He couldn’t leave His work at the “office” as it followed Him home
Mark 3:20 NASB95
And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal.
We get the impression that the cue of needy people was virtually endless
Mark 6:31 NASB95
31 And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)
The only way to avoid this work was to get away to a desolate place where there are no people - & leave your mobile phones at home guys!
But even venturing out to a desolate place - even starting out in a row boat - was not able to keep the people away

2. The Apostles’ Blindness Continues

It was interesting talking to Disaster Response manager, Dan, a few weeks ago
He was saying that once Samaritan’s Purse start their work, people start to see what is happening & the word gets out & around
People will start to volunteer & owners will start asking if SP will come & do their home as well
Where there is an itch, people will want it scratched
This is precisely what happened as some people recognised Jesus & His apostles & somehow figured out where they were heading
They foresaw that the best thing was to get ahead of the curve & meet Him there in that wilderness place
Perhaps, this was a regular place for Him & His disciples or, perhaps, one or more of His disciples let the cat out of the bag & told some
Either way, they had an idea where they were heading & beat them there
But talk about a great bush telegraph
5000 men besides women & children assembled in this wilderness spot
But whilst we call it a wilderness, it was far from the picture we get of a wilderness
We may tend to think of a barren, dusty, desert, like Echuca was in the peak of the drought in 2008, but this place was lush with green grass
Let’s look at verse 34
Mark 6:34 NASB95
34 When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.
Jesus saw them as lost sheep - people who have strayed & have no one to set them in the right direction or to lead them figuratively to “green pastures”
Ezekiel 34:5–6 NASB95
5 “They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. 6 “My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.” ’ ”
It is truly reminiscent of our godless culture
So lost in a sea of gender confusion & purposeless cancel culture ideologies that are so devoid of God & devoid of His truth
A culture that is so corrupted that it calls good, evil & evil, good
Only the Lord can help these people & that help comes via His compassion for them
Often, we have reshaped the notion of love into a sentimental emotion
But compassion, here, is not about the heart at all
In biblical teaching, the heart is more about what you think in the deepest recesses of your being - I like to say that the thinking of the heart is what only it & God knows
But compassion is felt in the gut - in the bowels - you know, when you go for an exam, you feel nervous, not in the chest but in the gut
That is where you feel
This expresses Jesus feeling of pity & concern, sympathy with these crowds, not because they lacked food, although, that is true
But because they had no one to steer them in the correct way
No one to feed them the truth of God’s word
No one to set them straight & help them in their relationship with God
That pressing concern was the concern Jesus had for these men
Which says something to me, too, about the importance of taking people from godlessness to godliness - of giving them hope & giving them a path that will lead to a relationship with their Creator
That path is only through Jesus Christ - the One who has come from God & is the only way to God & the only One who is the truth & the life
It is akin to Mary’s attitude that got up Martha’s nose - that she was just wanting to soak up the teaching of Jesus rather than be a busy beaver in the kitchen making preparations
Although, what Martha did was needed & necessary, what Mary did was better, since it is founded on this truth...
Matthew 4:4 NASB95
4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ”
Isn’t today’s passage also reminiscent of Psalm 23
Psalm 23:1–3 NASB95
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
The Lord will feed 5000 men, perhaps also in addition, women & children
But what a contrast we see between Herod’s lavish birthday banquet where godlessness was the order of the day & where John the Baptist was killed, actually, murdered because Herodias couldn’t handle the Godly challenge from the prophet John
With the provision of food for the people eager to meet with Jesus, there is a sense that these people are, to an extent, open to the things of God, whereas, Herod’s mealtime banquet was anything but God honouring
Here is a forward looking reflection on when the kingdom is established
Ezekiel 34:23–24 NASB95
23 “Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. 24 “And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the Lord have spoken.
We come now to the crux of this account of the feeding of the 5000
This is not just some good Samaritan act by Jesus
Often, that is all we see in here
However, notice how Jesus, sets up His disciples
“Send them home, they say, so they may buy food for themselves”
But Jesus says: “You give them something to eat”
Of course, Jesus knew that there was no way they could get food enough for 5000 people, but He was testing them
They didn’t do too well, did they?
Remember who they had with them?
Remember what happened on the Sea of Galilee when the storm rose & Jesus was asleep in the stern?
The 12 panic & tell Jesus’ that they all are going to drown
But worse, they imply that He doesn’t even care if they drown - here’s Moffat’s paraphrase...
The Gospel of Mark (a) The Subduing of the Sea. Ch. 4:35–41

“Teacher, are we to drown for all you care?”

Unbelievable - we, I, would probably be no different, I think
The unregenerate man is so immersed in the fallen world & his sin, that all he sees is his own interests & worries
But their faith evaporated when they were under threat, which goes to show that their faith in Jesus was, on a scale of 1-10 only a 5 or 6, when it should have been 11
Now, my basis for making this interpretation comes from the next reading which speaks of how Jesus walked on water
Mark 6:51–52 NASB95
51 Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, 52 for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.
They had not gained any insight/understanding from the feeding of the 5000
Where did they think the bread came from?
Jesus could control the weather; He could control demons; He could control sickness; He could control death
But somehow, He couldn’t control food; He couldn’t control water!!!
It does take time for faith to be firmly planted in the “soil” & for it to sprout & grow
Israel had come out of Egypt with great wealth - the Egyptians gave the Israelites precious items as they left
They came out of Egypt after witnessing those horrendous plagues that came upon Egypt but not upon Israel there in the land of Goshen
They came out with their first-born alive whereas every Egyptian home would have had at least 1 dead but more often 2 including some dead animals
They came out of Egypt with Pharaoh in hot pursuit, who then pinned them down before the Red Sea
They came through the Sea with a wall of water on the left & one the right of them
They came through the Sea & then witnessed the walls of water collapse upon Pharaoh’s army & drown the lot of them in the Sea
When they came into the wilderness, God decided to hold out on them with food to test their faith
As Moses said...
Deuteronomy 8:3 NASB95
3 “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
With all they had witnessed, what did they take out of all that?
Apparently nothing
Exodus 14:11–12 NASB95
11 Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 “Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
You’d say what? Didn’t you learn anything from what you witnessed?
Did God bring you out so He could kill you?
Did He miraculously provide & rescue so that He could then destroy you?
Immediately, that makes no sense at all
But what it shows is that the heart can be rock hard when it comes to trust/faith
It refuses to open up to God & accept Him for who He is
It buys the lie from Satan that God wants to play games with you & wants to short change you & to rob you of your independent potential
Genesis 3:4–5 NASB95
4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Yer, yer, this typical lie
God has ulterior motives in creating you
That He wants to enslave you & rob you of your potential of godhood
That He knows that you will be like God & possess the power
Well how did that go for mankind? No so good, right!
The disciples are proving to be no different from Israel in that they just don’t, or can’t, accept that Jesus is on a scale of 1- 10 -- an 11 - He is that powerful
He is not just a healer, not just an exorcist; not just a provider of food
He is not bound to the boundaries of our universal laws
He is from God & is outside the fabric of Creation - He is over it & Lord of it
There is nothing He cannot do - “for nothing is impossible with God” as the angel says to Mary about her miraculous conception of the Son of God
The disciples are in a flap about how they were possibly expected to feed 5000 & Jesus is probably looking at them shaking His head - what, am I not here?

3. They All Ate and Were Satisfied

I haven’t really let people know that I’m a lover of Chinese food, particularly sweet & sour pork, haven’t I?
That wouldn’t go well in a Jewish context & I really do feel for them
There was nothing unclean about pork, but it was unclean for the Jew only because God wanted to make a distinction between His people & the world - that’s all - nothing wrong with pork
However, for the Jew, prior to Christ, what was unclean according to the Law of Moses had to be regarded as unclean
But now, in Christ, those earthly, those outer distinctions, have been erased & under the New Covenant we are able to enjoy all kinds of food - even the Jews who belong to Jesus can enjoy all kinds of food
After this test Jesus put to His disciples (to feed the 5000 men), He then asks what they do have to contribute
What was available was barely enough to feed the 12 themselves, let alone 5000
We are not told how the bread & fish multiplied & if you gave a scientist that puzzle to work out, he or she would probably have kittens over it
As they distributed the food, it just kept multiplying
Did the 5000 know this? Was it for their benefit? I don’t think so
I think it was for the benefit of the 12 apostles
It amazes me that Jesus pours most of His ministry into the 12
We can see how this had an amazing impact
These men were going to head/lead the church & so they had to be totally familiar with Jesus & His ways
Interestingly, Paul emphasises this approach & we should take careful note of it too
2 Timothy 2:2 NASB95
2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Again, the feeding of the 5000 was primarily meant for the 12 apostles
Jesus instructs the 12 to then collect/gather the baskets - notably 12 baskets - & they collected 12 full baskets containing broken pieces of bread & also of fish
I would argue that with broken pieces that were put into the baskets, that they would be holding more of that because there are less air gaps with broken pieces than with full baked loaves
Now the 12 baskets were totally full
Q. How many did they have to start with?
They had 5 loaves & 2 fish
Now even if you assign one loaf to a basket & a fish to a another basket, you still have 5 empty baskets with nothing in them
Now you don’t have to be Einstein to work out that something miraculous has happened here
But like the disciples reaction before, they could only see what their limited perspective would allow
They did not see with the eyes of faith, but of only what they could perceive with their minds that were so use to the physical restrictions that come with a finite creation
What Jesus wanted them to see is an infinite God
Mark tells us of another occasion where they went across the Sea of Galilee but forgot to take some bread with them - they only had one loaf between the lot of them
However, prior to this, the Pharisees were demanding Jesus produce a sign from heaven to authenticate Himself, but they were demanding it only to test Him out
So Jesus later, instructing His disciples, warned them of the leaven of the Pharisees
In other words, leaven or yeast that spreads throughout the dow of the bread
Meaning that they were to be careful not to adopt the unbelieving & deceitful antics of the Pharisees that can spread like gangrene or yeast
But His disciples were still in the knucklehead phase & thought Jesus was talking about their slackness in forgetting to take more bread with them when they crossed the Sea
Mark 8:17–21 NASB95
17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? 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 you picked up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they said to Him, “Seven.” 21 And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Classic knuckleheads &, of course, I would have been one of them had I been there
This passage today is another Christological passage - that is - it is about the nature of Christ
Q. How big is your Jesus?
Q. Is He a limited miracle worker who can do some fancy things, but He may not be able to handle some things we think are impossible
Q. Or is He on a scale of power from 1-10, an 11
Jesus has unlimited power & He is able to achieve even the impossible & as the writer to the Hebrews says, that “He can save to the uttermost those who draw near to Him”
This is the kind of faith & trust that He expected of His disciples
One that knows that with Jesus, we can trust in Him completely
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