Over the last few days, we’ve had several in our church family undergo various kinds of struggles and difficulties particularly with health issues, others have marked recently or will mark in the next few weeks the anniversary of the death of a loved one, some I’ve come to learn are going through much difficulty emotionally, or they are stressed beyond belief about their job or lack of one. A family and high school in our community were devastated by the tragic death of a high school freshman. Economic and political turmoil is all around us and there are demands on each of us we couldn’t possibly complete in the time we have. Honestly, I’ve struggled recently (and still do some days) with some personal concerns that weigh heavily on my shoulders. All of this added together can be overwhelming to us.
Then I open my Bible in my morning quiet time and I read several word pictures of our Lord Jesus in the Gospel of Mark that strengthened and encouraged me. Hopefully God will use them with you at the point of your need. I love the Gospel of Mark because it was written in a condensed form – kind of simple facts about the life of Christ, quick snapshots of Jesus’ ministry. In chapter 6, there’s the snapshot of Jesus feeding 5000 men (conservatively more like 25,000 people with women and children considered). He took the meager lunch of a young boy and He multiplied it to meet the need of the people there. He did so with abundance as there were 12 baskets of leftovers – nothing like a good old Baptist pot-luck, except there was no “luck” involved in this. It is the Lord meeting an overwhelming need that was humanly impossible to handle with the resources available. The practical lesson for us is that no matter the size of the need, Jesus is confidently able to meet the need facing each individual with abundant supply. In short, He’s bigger than any problem we’ve got, lack of resources is not an issue for Him. So when your faith begins to waver because you’re overwhelmed by a huge need, be secure in this fundament truth that Jesus is bigger than your need!
The next snapshot in the same chapter is Jesus sending the disciples off in the boat across the lake while He goes to the mountain to pray. One quick lesson is if the Son of God carved out time alone to pray because He not only wanted it but needed it, you and I better find a place to pray too! But the text continues in 6:47-48 that the boat with the disciples was in the middle of the sea and he was alone on land, and the text says “He saw them straining at the rowing for the wind was against them.” Another quick lesson is that you cannot escape the watchful eye of Jesus who sees you in your struggle. He knows the strain you are under and He knows the winds of life are against you much of the time. The text continues that Jesus came walking to them on the sea! Lesson? Physical barriers are not a big deal to Jesus and He’s willing to come to you no matter what is in the way! It’s interesting in Mark’s account that Jesus “would have passed them by.” He didn’t impose Himself on the disciples but He revealed Himself to them so they knew He was there. It scared the dickens out of them because they thought it was a ghost – after all who walks on water? But they called out to Jesus and He comforted them in the midst of the wind storm by saying: “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid (6:50).” Jesus got in the boat with them and the wind immediately stopped – again scaring them and amazing them that He controlled the wind and waves. So when you’re in a storm, you’re scared, straining at rowing through life – Jesus is nearby and He’s waiting for you to call on Him. The other lesson is no matter what you are going through, Jesus wants you to be of good cheer because of who He is and He commands us to not be afraid! Verse 52 makes a curious statement “For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened.” See we can become calloused to the miracles God is working all around us. They had just seen Jesus overcome that huge need to supply food for so many people, yet the disciples are back in a storm and they were insecure once again. The text continues about Jesus healing and meeting the physical needs of so many people. Again, security comes from Jesus, no matter what we’ve got going on.
The final snapshot I’ll talk about here starts in chapter 7 but it stands in stark contrast to what we’ve seen. The Pharisees, leaders of the religious crowd, were insecure because Jesus was upsetting the status quo. He was not conventional, He was not traditional and rather than trust in Jesus, these people clung to the security of their traditions. One lesson of many coming out of this section is that people, including many religious people and even leaders, can hate change. Rather than acknowledge and embrace the work God is doing, they criticize it and undermine it because their tradition is more comfortable, or their area of control is weakened. Jesus called their number on it in 7:6 saying “This people honors Me with their lips but their heart is far from Me.” Sometimes well meaning people say and do things in church life that are upsetting in some cases because their security is not coming from the Savior, but from some tradition that is comfortable that they control. They appear to be spiritual by paying lip service to Jesus, but their hearts are not trusting and they are good at going through the motions. Their insecurity usually is displayed in the form of fault finding and harsh criticism because they forget Jesus is “Lord of the impossible” and that our security comes from Him, if we’ll trust Him completely by faith. More often than not, what upsets people clinging to tradition is something pretty small in the grand scheme of things. Our challenge as disciples is to remind people to get their eyes off the problem no matter how big, or off the tradition no matter how comfortable, and back on the Savior from where true security comes. I’m not sure what’s going on in your corner of the world today as you read this, but I’m trusting in Jesus by faith for my security, in my little corner of the world today…
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church
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