December 31, 2023
Proverbs 3:5–6 (ESV) — 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
There are times when living by Proverbs 3:5&6 takes a great deal of faith to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” I say that because there are times we may not think He has our best interest in mind, but trusting Him means just that – trusting Him. A case in point is the way Jesus handed out a lesson in spiritual growth on the way to providing needed rest and refreshment for the disciples.
Mark 6:30–32 (ESV) — 30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.
Jesus had sent the disciples out to minister and when they returned after days of hard work, He encouraged them to get away for a rest because He knew they were spent. Notice it says that “they had no leisure even to eat.” That simply means they never took a break so you can imagine how exhausted they were, physically as well as emotionally. They needed to get away from people for a while. They needed rest, food, and spiritual refreshment so Jesus was ready to provide what they needed as He called them away by boat to a desolate place.
Mark 6:33–34 (ESV) — 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.
Jesus, no doubt, was as exhausted and hungry as the disciples, but we notice an important lesson from Jesus. His compassion drove Him to put aside His own needs temporarily for the needs of others. Obviously, in putting aside the needs of the disciples temporarily, He was also teaching them a valuable lesson – a lesson they seemed to have trouble grasping.
Mark 6:35–37 (ESV) — 35 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?”
You can just hear the disciples groaning with one another about Jesus’ preaching that extended late into the day. The disciples had empty bellies, tired bodies, and quite frankly did not really care about being with any people for the moment. Their demand that Jesus send the people away was an indication that they were not themselves. In fact, their sarcastic response to Jesus shows they neither thought of the people, nor of their master – only themselves. So, Jesus brings them an important lesson.
Mark 6:38–44 (ESV) — 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.” 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. 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.
Jesus demonstrates His power in providing for the crowd, but you cannot help but notice the fact that there were twelve baskets full that were left over. One basket for each of the disciples as if to say, “Boys, I had you covered all along.” But don’t miss the lesson from Jesus. Remember His compassion for others was an important element that made for this scene. Not only His compassion for the crowd, but also to take the time to bring His disciples through an uncomfortable life lesson. He also demonstrated the way He could set aside His own need for refreshment, as could the disciples – by looking to His Father. As He looked to heaven, He was demonstrating the fact that He was recognizing the Father’s will and care. An important lesson for the disciples and for us.
Did they get the lesson? Peter seems to indicate his understanding of the need for interruption as a higher purpose from God.
1 Peter 1:6–9 (ESV) — 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
If your life seems to be interrupted by God, remember He has a higher purpose. Yes, He will provide for your needs, but He also desires you to grow in your faith and understanding of His care for you. Trust Him with all your heart.
Bob Brubaker, Pastor