Read Mark 6.
After reading this chapter, what seems like for the hundredth time, it started to take on a whole new meaning. Instead of focusing on one or two verses and drawing some conclusions, the Spirit prompted me to read the whole chapter again. As I read it over again several times, I began to focus on the disciples, their actions, and their words. Try it for yourself.
In the opening verses 1 – 4 we see the disciples followed Jesus to His own town, where the people who knew Jesus from childhood had difficulty believing what He taught.
Verses 7-12 Jesus sends out the disciples in pairs to preach the gospel of repentance. In the process Jesus gives them the power to cast out demons and heal the sick. Maybe Jesus sent the disciples out because His own people didn’t believe Him. Perhaps the people might believe if the message came from someone else. In any case, please notice Jesus provided the power to do what He wanted the disciples to do.
Later in verse 30-32 the twelve disciples returned with a report of all the things they did. No doubt, the disciples had explained everything with great excitement and rejoicing. Imagine being able to cast out an unclean spirit or to heal a sick person. It must have been astounding! Jesus, knowing what is to come, responses by asking the disciples to come away and rest. After having a wonderful spiritual experience, we would be wise to take Jesus’ advice and rest, for many times temptation comes on the heels of elation.
Next in verses 33-43 is the feeding of 5,000, a familiar story. Remember, the disciples had just been through an exciting spiritual journey casting out demons, healing people, and resting with Jesus when they returned. Verse 34-36 says “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.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. Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread;for they have nothing to eat.”” What a contrast between Jesus’ compassion for the people and the disciples’ response “send them away”. Obviously, the disciples were focused on themselves, rather than on the work of God or other people. Do you suppose the disciples were resentful of all the people because they wanted to spend more time with Jesus? Were they just tired? Or did they wish the responsibility of caring for all the people would go away? In any case, look how Jesus responses to the disciples: “You give them something to eat.” How do the disciples respond to that? No way, how could we afford to feed all these people. Now, what a minute, didn’t Jesus give the disciples the power to cast out demons and to heal the sick? Yes. No where did we read that power was taken away from the disciples. Here they are being tested. Are they passing or failing the test? It doesn’t look good from my vantage point.
In verses 45-52 we see the disciples are tested further by going before Jesus to the other side of the lake. Jesus stays behind to send the people home and to pray. He notices a strong wind has made the disciples’ journey across the water difficult, the rowing was hard. He decides to visit them by walking to them on the water, thereby demonstrating some of His Godly power, revealing who He really is to His frightened disciples. How do the disciples respond? The Bible says “And when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled.” If they saw Him, why were they afraid? Verse 52 gives us the answer: “For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.” They failed the first test regarding the feeding of the 5,000, because they didn’t think they had the power to perform the miracle and it caused their hearts be hardened with unbelief. When the next testing came, they saw Jesus, knowing what He was capable of so far, yet they didn’t believe He could walk on water. So, they failed again with a greater degree of disbelief. So it goes with us. One disbelief leads to another and another. This is an excellent reminder for us to keep ourselves in the love of God.
The disciples had forgotten the power given to them and therefore couldn’t feed the needy people. The disciples had also forgotten where their power came from and as a result, could not rejoice when the Power of God was demonstrated. Remember the feeding of 5,000? How five loaves and two fishes could feed that many people was an awesome miracle, but the disciples didn’t rejoice at all. When we forget God’s Holy Spirit is in us we, too, will fail rejoice when we witness God’s miracles.
Next, they saw Jesus walking on water. Another amazing miracle, but instead of rejoicing at His mighty power they became fearful. 1 John 4:18 NKJV tells us: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:16 NKJV teaches us: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” If the disciples had abided in His love, they would not have been fearful. When did they stop abiding in His love? About the time they forgot His power was in them.
If you find yourself fearful, cut yourself some slack. You’re not perfected yet. Know that God’s not done with you yet. Allow God’s Word to shape you into His image. Remember, it is God in you giving you the desire, the will, and the power to carry out His glorious purposes.
Lord thank you for your precious Word that teaches us about you. Help us to learn from what we read. Enable us to leverage your power in us to accomplish all you ask of us. Teach us to abide in your love. In Jesus’ name Amen.
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