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  • Writer's pictureLou Hernández

03-12-23 - LIMITED FAITH, LIMITED LIVING - Mark 6:30-52

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

Lou's Quote: Let's Pray: Father God we bow before you asking humbly to hear our prayer for our dear friends and family who are suffering with hard times in their health. You know them by name as your children oh, Father God embrace them with your love and allow them to get well as we know you are God of second and third chances, so they can be a live testimony of your grace, Father God we pray for: GP, NR, TG, M HM, M HL, SC, Sv, CH, MD. LN, Also, we pray for the Leaders of those countries who are at war, protect our brothers and sisters give them strength not to lose their faith in you, we pray for the children who are suffering from pain and fear in not understanding and knowing why this is happening. We pray in the name of your beloved son Jesus Christ our Lord of Lords and King of Kings. AMEN!



Sometimes the miracles in the Bible are hard to believe which can cause us to feel like we need to “modernize” them, putting them in a context we can understand. Like the young boy who burst out of Sunday school filled with excitement. Seeing his father, he ran up and said, “Dad, that story about Moses and the Jews escaping from Egypt was incredible.” Looking down with a smile, his father said, “Tell me about it.”

“It happened like this,” the boy said. “Moses and the Jews got out of Egypt and came to the Red Sea. They couldn’t get across and the Egyptian army had them trapped and almost caught them. But at the last second Moses got on his walkie-talkie and called in the Israeli Air Force to bomb the Egyptian army. At the same time, the Israeli Navy built a pontoon bridge and the Jews walked across the Red Sea to safety.”

Taken aback, his father said, “They didn’t really teach you that in Sunday school, did they?” “Not exactly,” replied the little boy sheepishly, “but if I told you what they really said, you’d never believe it!”

Truth be told, his conclusion, If I told you what was really said, you’d never believe it! is often our lived experience with God. It’s not that we don’t have faith in a miracle working God, it’s just that our faith is more inclined to see God stepping into someone’s else story not our own. Because for us, there are no parted seas, no fire from Heaven, at least in any way we can see.

However could it be that this God who defeated enemies, provided escape, and spoke peace into the storm is doing the very same thing today in our lives yet sometimes in ways that go unacknowledged and hence, remain unseen?

This morning we are going to explore this matter of faith in one of Jesus’ best known miracles. Certainly, it is the most public of all His miracles. The fact that the Feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle of Jesus mentioned in all four gospels tells us something of the importance God gives to this event.

The story is familiar to us, a lot of hungry people – literally 5000 men which likely means in the ballpark of 20,000 people, doing at least 3 miraculous things men typically don’t do: • sitting down without a television remote, • listening to what someone else has to say without ‘improving’ the conversation and • staying put when appetite is shouting, ‘Time to get some food’.

Those observations aside, I don’t want to get mired in any relational quagmires this morning but I do want to consider some things God may want us to take from this story once its familiarity is removed. What are we to take from this?

Mark’s account begins with a brief glimpse of Jesus and the disciples that we often overlook in our haste to get to the main event of the story. It’s an oversight that we dare not make.

The disciples are worn weary. They’ve been giving out, giving out, giving out, until they are resourced out and needing a rest. And Jesus knows it. He didn’t miss that they were ‘running on empty’ and He didn’t dismiss that they were all in. He could have. After all, these were men on mission and mission demands sacrifice. Uh, guys, this is what you signed up for. Did you ever consider that ‘Take up your Cross and follow Me’ means long hours and little sleep? But no – Jesus saw that they were tired. Exhausted. Demanded up to here. Verse 31 tell us that they didn’t even have time to eat.

Jesus also knowing when we’ve become life weary, knowing that there are times we need to pull back from the voices of demand and away from ministry where we give and give not realizing that we may be giving from an empty place. In those places and at these times when our tank is empty, we need to slow down and assess. In ways where we re-center ourself, more, importantly where we get re-centered on who we are in Christ – our identity in Him, our acceptance in Him.

So often we run ourselves ragged because we have bought the lie that we are the sum of what we do. That our standing before God is somehow moved up a notch by the things we do for Jesus rather the time we spend with Him. The truth is THE MORE TIME WE SPEND DOING A BUNCH OF THINGS FOR JESUS WITHOUT SPENDING TIME WITH JESUS, WILL ALWAYS BRING US UP EMPTY.

This isn’t to suggest that we retreat into some monastic ‘Jesus and me’ cocoon. No, He has called us to be a reflection of Jesus in the world in which He has placed us. And that reflection is determined by how well we see and know the One we reflect. That requires time with Him.

The problem is that it is so much easier to reflect the things we do in the name of Jesus. But that gets so tiring! And truth be known, most people aren’t impressed by the busy things we do because they are too busy chasing their own things to fill up their lives.

As I look out, I am well aware that many here are authentically and effectively living out Jesus. Some in your 9 to 5 workplace, others as reflections of Jesus as you pursue studies or those coming alongside someone who is hurting. Still others being Jesus as you deal with ailing parents, a troubled, rebellious child or as Jesus’ reflections in homes ripped apart by separation and divorce

Ministry work in places where God scatters us as His presence. But if we’re not careful, places that take their toll that empty us – needs far greater than the resources we have in ourselves.

It is in these places where we dare not miss a couple of words Jesus says to His disciples that we so often pass over as we rush to the ‘heart’ of the story of a lot of hungry men and a piddly supply of sardines and crackers, “Come away

Jesus’ words to His disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest” :31 are words not to be missed. These words are spoken during our weary times and our empty times.

It’s a time away so we can step back and take a breath. To see where we are and, in our serving, to see who we have become. But don’t miss this, these words are WORDS OF INVITATION that Jesus calls us to as He goes with us:

INVITING US TO COME WHERE HE IS that He walks with us through our times of weariness and walks with us through our process of discovery. He knows the places where death has taken up residence. And in those places He comes with us, waiting for us to invite Him to restore hope, restore passion and restore identity. But here’s the thing, some of us have become so busy doing and serving that we spend little time with the One we serve.

To you He says, Come and be with Me - to see Him and hear what He has to say to us. He knows the disciples are surrounded by need. Everywhere they look, NEED! Hurting people. Helpless people. Wounded people. And so as ‘need responders’, they became so busy they didn’t even have time to eat. But Jesus knew that if they weren’t careful, they would soon be depleted as they drew from wells that were running dry. Could it be that as we are here this morning that Jesus is inviting us to go where He is and be with Him?

HE DOES THIS BY INVITING US TO REST It’s a principle God established from the very beginning – Sabbath rest. Drawing away from the busyness. Stepping off the hamster wheel of activity. This doesn’t mean stepping away from the family of God rather it means understanding what it means to be a child in the family of God and as that child take:

Time to rest. Time to worship. Time to play in the world God gives us to enjoy. Time to strengthen relationships with those we love.

I have a friend who owned a company but felt convicted that God was calling Him to spend the first part of His workday with Him. But he argued with God, There’s too much to do!’ Too many demands to meet. After a time he yielded to what God was asking and gave the first part of his day to spend time with God. And his business? Greatly increased YET God allowed all the obligations despite the added business to be met in the hours remaining in the day.

HE DOES THIS BY INVITING US TO COME WHERE FAITH IS RENEWED Note Jesus says, Draw away by yourselves. This is not an endorsement of ‘me, God and no one else’. This isn’t isolationist living. Restoration doesn’t come in being alone. Notice that while this rest is discovered in Jesus, it’s also lived out with other disciples. Where they can support, strengthen and encourage one another.

Scripture is clear, “Don’t forsake the assembling together” Heb 10:25 ie. don’t be deceived in thinking that you can live life as a Christian by going it alone. That you don’t need other Christians, that you don’t need the church.

The truth is, you and I do. Despite its imperfections, despite its weaknesses, despite its failures, and despite the hurts it has given, God has designed His church as a Body, a collection of different personalities and different gifts to be His way that He is going to impact the world. Flawed and imperfect – yes but Christ purposed – yes.

Surrounded by the support of others who can spark your faith back into flame. With others who can speak when words need to be spoken and silently surround when mere presence is needed.

As we soon learn, the alone time Jesus prepared for the disciples was far shorter than they anticipated. Their sunscreen left for a future time and their books unread. Any extended ‘R and R’ would have to wait. That said, this time alone with Jesus was sufficient for what was needed

Of first need, to “Come away by yourselves to rest” coming after a time of great grief and before a time when they will minister in the midst of overwhelming need.

The disciples had just heard the distressing news that John the Baptist had been beheaded. That must have done a number on them. If they had wondered about the animosity growing toward Jesus, John’s murder made it unmistakably clear, Jesus and his followers had powerful enemies. No wonder they were tired. No wonder they were emotionally spent. No wonder they were on the brink. No amount of casual faith would hold them through this.

As their boat neared shore, it was readily apparent that their lonely, desolated place was now populated with those who were hungry for what Jesus had to give. We are told that when Jesus saw the multitude, He was filled with compassion for them, likening them to sheep without a shepherd.

I imagine if the disciples had a vote they would have said, “Enough!Push the boat back out and let’s get that R & R we were looking forward to, but not Jesus. He never felt there were too many people or too many needs. Whether it was one person or a multitude, there wasn’t a person to whom the invitation didn’t apply, Come!

The principle still holds true, there isn’t a person here this morning outside of His reach. Not one person here on whom He doesn’t look with compassion and to whom He doesn’t speak invitation. Not one. Also know, Jesus doesn’t leave you standing in the back of the queue as He tends to others deemed more important than you. He calls you now. He calls your name now. He calls you to come to Him now. For He says, In the time of My favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you now is the time of God's favor now is the day of salvation 2 Cor 6:2

But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘That would take 8 months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?’ :37-40

‘We haven’t budgeted for this. It isn’t a line item. We’ll need to get the congregation’s okay.

Rationale assessments. Understandable weighing of probabilities. Overwhelming need and a total absence of supply. A giant too big. An enemy too loud. A stronghold to secure.

Have you ever been in this place with God? In situations you’ve declared impossible? We’ve done the math and no matter how many times we count, 2 and 2 don’t add up to 10.

I find it interesting that Jesus doesn’t immediately set aside their objections. He doesn’t step in to inform them what He is going to do. Instead, it is almost as if He takes them deeper into places of doubt and impossibility.

Have you ever considered that sometimes when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way that we would like or in a time we might expect, that He may be taking us into a deeper place so when His answer comes, that it will do far more than just answer what we have asked? How could we possibly have known that He was taking us into a deeper place of faith in God than we could have ever imagined? Which is what happened when He asked the disciples,

“How many loaves of bread do we have – Go Look!”

We aren’t told how far the disciples looked but I can imagine how the disciples would have felt as they went through the crowd. At first expectancy of finding food then discouragement – ‘This is ridiculous – how in heaven’s name are we going to come up with enough bread? 8 months wages would barely give each person a bite. What in the world does He want of us?’

As they moved among the crowd, the responses to their inquiries went from a solo, ‘No food here’ to a depressing chorus – ‘No food anywhere.’ In a strange sort of way, Jesus was leading each one of the crowd to declare his own lack – I have nothing to give. I have no supply to draw from.’ Which is exactly where God needs us to go – to understand our dependency is on Him.

APPL - God often allows us to be in impossible situations so we will depend totally on Him. He doesn’t give us the answer we expect. He doesn’t respond in the time frame we know to be right. Instead we often find ourselves with no way out. God allows this to happen so that we draw close to Him, our cry to Him. No food. No resource. No answers.

And His reply, I’ve been waiting for you to ask. Just give me the little that you have.”

The truth is God wants to shape us into a people of faith. And He will use whatever is necessary to get us there because He knows there will come times in life when our faith will be challenged. In those times we will be faced with decisions that can shipwreck our lives or send us into a spiral of confusion and doubt. There will be times when our experience of God may seem distant. At that time – FAITH. And yes, very often having that faith is very, very hard.

As a young person, you’ll be in that place where no one will see and no one will know. In that place God calls you to walk faithfully with Him. As you linger over a keyboard, knowing that one stroke will take you to alluring, ‘off limit’ places. In that place God calls you to hold on to Him. As a hurt and rejected partner, you’ll be in that place where one call might put you in the arms of another man/woman. In that place God calls you to remain true to faith.

These times - calls for faith that is strong and secure - when we can’t see and when we don’t understand. When we give the little we have and God takes it and does the impossible.

Faith is not faith if it is only rooted in euphoric experiences and inspiring expressions of worship, That won’t hold us when the music goes quiet and life turns hard. Faith has to be more than the evidence of what we see and what we experience. Faith must be in Christ and our understanding of who He is and the redemptive love that took Him to the Cross. Our faith not based on whether He proved Himself on the last thing we asked. He cannot be God in our life, only IF the prayer for our husband got answered or IF the healing of our child came through. Is He really God only IF my answers are satisfied? Time and time again, Jesus makes it clear, ‘You are asking in the wrong place. You are seeking the wrong thing - Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things (all that you truly need) will be added unto you.” Matt 6:33

You would think that with the evidence of enough miracles and enough answered prayer, that unshakeable faith would be inevitable. But it wasn’t for the disciples. Time and again they saw the miraculous things Jesus did but their belief only seemed to hold until the next storm. They saw the acts but their understanding of the One doing the acts was clouded.

When they saw Jesus heal the paralytic, they certainly had evidence what He could do when the next paralytic came along. And when one leper was healed, they had confidence for the likely future that awaited. That He had power over sickness and disease was irrefutable.

But about the other things that lay ahead? They had no evidence for that. So when a storm hit and their lives were in jeopardy, what then? They had no evidential faith for that. Their faith seemed to be wrapped up more in what He did than in who He was. He was a situational God rather than the Lord who was Master over all.

APPL: Isn’t it true that you and I do that? Allowing Him authority over areas of our life as long as He gives us the assurance that things will play out as we want? Do we grant Him authority only in areas where, after spending all our efforts, we admit that our is need is great and our resources are small. Designated places. Places that don’t press in too tight. Or is He far more than that? Is He Lord and Master over all whether He meets my needs in the manner I think best or not?

God calls us to faith that exceeds miraculous deeds and guaranteed outcomes. Instead He gives us a reason for faith that is rooted in a God who loves us SO MUCH that He gave His life that you and I might live. That His love is SO GREAT that He endured the worst Hell could bring.

That whether my prayer is answered now or not, that His love for me never changes, never grows weary, never sleeps. God who constantly watches over me is the same God who watched over His Son when Hell did its worst YET chose not to intervene to spare Him the suffering and the abuse. He could have done so but if He had, the penalty for your sin and mine would not have been paid and our salvation would not have been accomplished. And for that reason and that reason alone, He allowed His Son to endure the Cross that we might be reconciled to God. The Cross was and is a miracle of self-giving Love that Satan cannot replicate because it is a price he would never be willing to pay.

Belief that takes us to the words, Here is a young lad with five barley biscuits and two sardines!

How pitifully small. How woefully inadequate. What are 5 loaves and 2 fish among so many? Jn 6:9

And His answer? More than sufficient in the hands of an Almighty God who speaks life into existence. As Jesus says, “Nothing is impossible with God.” Mtth 19:26

So it is that Jesus commands the disciples to put the multitude in groups of 50 and 100. I have no idea what the disciples were thinking when Jesus told them this. Was he getting them ready for a discussion group or arranging them for prayer time?

How could they know they were sitting down in preparation of a meal unlike any meal they had ever known? Food aplenty.

I think in some sense He was personally connecting them to what He was about to do. In groups of this size, all would see what was happening as the baskets passed hand to hand. No one had bad sight lines. They saw the basket as it entered the circle and they would see it as it came to the end. They could do the calculations – by the time it gets to me. Not a chance there’ll be any left. But the supply kept increasing no matter how many withdrawals were made.

Verse 42 says that everyone ate and was satisfied. Filled - - the scrawny picky eater and the giant of a man with no limit to his appetite. Even those who first might have taken sparingly from the basket, were filled as the basket circulated around and around, hands reaching in, no longer worrying whether they were taking too much.

When it was all said and done, there were 12 baskets left, sufficient for each disciple to take a basket in his own hand, visual evidence that the God who gave manna in the wilderness was the same God who now stood before them.

What a contrast. Only a little while before, the disciples had done what Jesus asked as they moved through the crowd trying to find food. As they asked, one answer continually sounded out, “I don’t have …..”

But the voice of one small boy changed everything, “I have 5 small loaves and 2 fish.” And Jesus, if you want it, it’s yours. It’s not much - just my lunch – a couple of sardines and some small biscuit loaves but if you want it.”

Abundant supply coming from simple, believing faith. A God of miracles doing the impossible.

I didn’t have to be there to know that one little boy had his life changed that day. As for others who looked on? - a myriad of response. For the 20,000 who sat on the hillside, their faith drove them to make Jesus king.

Surely anyone who could do what Jesus did and said what Jesus said, deserved to be elevated to the highest place. He was a man above all men. Filled with wisdom and a man of amazing power

And the disciples? Well they were understandably many steps further along. Based on everything they’d seen, everything they’d heard, Jesus was far more than a King. No one could do what He did unless He was sent from God, Jesus no mere man. BUT GOD, who could command the heavens and the seas? - that insight and its implications not yet taking hold.

Mk 6:51 & 52 tells us, “He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.”

Hard to believe, isn’t it? They had seen it with their own eyes but they hadn’t seen it at all.

How about you - have you seen but not seen at all? That Jesus is - Not a man. Not a king. Not a prophet. But God – a life giving, transforming God.

And so they did what we are so inclined to do, asking, “Will you still be God when this need comes and when this situation strikes? Will you be God then? Are you like that little boy, “if I told you what He really said, you’d never believe it!”

This morning he invites us to come and see Him. To say as the little boy with 5 small loaves and 2 fish, “All I have is yours. Take it.”

What would happen if we gave Jesus everything? Our jobs, our relationships, our money, our plans? Give up our need to direct and control and let Him do with them whatever He wants? What would He do with them? What would He do with us? Trusting Jesus to lead us to where we need to go and what we need to do?

That You, Jesus are Master in everything before whose Cross I bow, confessing you as Saviour and Lord because of Your shed blood.

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