GLOBAL 30 AUGUST............ Mark 6 v 30 – 44
(Scripture references in bold italics from the New Living Translation).
Good morning Global family and welcome to Global on line. I really hope you are keeping well and happy in your bubble and that you still friends with your bubble mates and looking after each other and looking forward to more freedom. It's a bit hard on all of us but we hope and pray that it will be worth it and that this cluster will be finished soon. I have a special message for you this morning, “God loves you, he knows everything you are going through, and he wants you to experience his peace in this life and share his perfect home for ever. A home where there are no viruses, no unemployment, no immigration departments, no sickness, no pain, no crying, just the perfect presence of Jesus Christ in a new heaven and new earth.
The bible talks a lot about sheep, they are mentioned over 500 times, and shepherds. Our passage this morning from Mark 6 v 30-44 talks about sheep without a shepherd , and Jesus reaction. Jesus is the perfect shepherd.
A Shepherd is a person who looks after (protects, feeds, and guides) his sheep
A shepherd is also a person who guides or watches over people
“I am the the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep”. John 10 v 11.
But Jesus living, teaching, and sacrifice was always with a long term purpose. He had to come to us so that we could go to him. He was the shepherd who came to find the lost sheep. Jesus had a heart of compassion.
Jesus said “ Look I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3 v 20. This is a very beautiful picture. He is not going to force his way in. He wants to rest and share a meal with us as friends. The good shepherd gave his life for we, the sheep, so that we could enjoy his presence as friends. I really want to emphasise this morning the closeness of the relationship that Jesus wants with us.
There are many many people around the world this morning who are feeling tired, lonely, worried, confused, and scared about the future. Maybe some of you are experiencing some of those things. Come and learn and find healing, hope, and peace from the perfect shepherd just where you are at home.
Picture - Ship Waitaki
Sometimes life is peaceful and calm like this ship at anchor. Jesus did a lot of sailing on lake Galilee – this wasn't how he travelled. But it was one of 10 ships I worked on and was my home for nearly 18 months in 1967 and 1968. But we didn't go to sea expecting to be always in calm seas.
Picture - Ship in Storm
Sometimes it can get very rough and I well remember being in one cyclone as we sailed from Calcutta in India to Trincomalee in Sri Lanka. It was very uncomfortable and some damage was caused to the ship but we prepared the ship well, it was a very good ship with a very good captain and we survived and came to the peace of the very beautiful Trincomalee harbour. We are in a time of life, a time of human history, when we need to prepare the ship of our life and be prepared for a rough voyage. We have the best captain in Jesus in control. But he is not just the Captain, the boss, he is also the perfect shepherd, to lead, guide, comfort, and heal.
Jesus also said “Come to me, all of you who are tired and carry a heavy load and I will give you rest. Be joined to me and learn from me because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11 v 28-29
So lets change our image from the sea back to shepherds and sheep. A shepherd in bible times was very different than today. Each shepherd in New Zealand can be responsible for thousands of sheep and the shepherd uses dogs to control the sheep. In bible times most shepherds would maybe have 20-50 sheep to look after and they knew each one by name. Usually they would keep the sheep in caves or small huts at night and during the day stay with them in the fields to protect them from thieves and wild animals such as wolves and lions. 3,000 years ago near Bethlehem where Jesus was born 1,000 years later was a shepherd boy named David who looked after the sheep. He had to protect them and care for them and make sure they got enough food and water. Later God chose David, the shepherd boy, to be the 2nd king of Israel The shepherds had a rod (strong stick) to fight off wild animals and thieves. They had a staff ( for support) and to pull the sheep back into line if they started to go astray. The handle at the top of the shepherds staff in the first picture is the size of a sheeps neck to pull them back if they try to run away.
A few years later Asaph was the music leader at the temple in Jerusalem and he wrote in Psalm 78 v 70-72. “God chose his servant David and took him from looking after the sheep and lambs and made him the Shepherd of God's own people, Israel. David cared for them with a true heart, tender compassion, and great skill. Those are the mark of true shepherds.
1,000 years later a baby was born in Bethlehem, the same little town in Israel just a few kilometres from Jerusalem where David kept the sheep. This baby, Jesus, grew up and when he was about 30 years old starting teaching and healing the people in the Lake Galilee area. Jesus also sent his disciples out into other towns to teach people the way to God and the ways of God. Many people came to him to see who this famous person was. So Jesus was very busy, tired, and probably a bit sad because his relative John the Baptist had just been killed by King Herod. And he wanted to look after his disciples who were in training to be shepherds.
Mark 6 v 30-44
The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, “Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn't even have time to eat. So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. But many people recognised them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them.
Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, (Matthew 9 v 35 adds “confused and helpless”). So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6 v 30-34
Compassion–to have pity and a feeling of distress when we see others in trouble–and do something about it.
Compassion is more than just feeling sorry for someone, it means we really care and try to help. We don't judge, we help. So Jesus had to give up his quiet time of rest with his disciples and look after the sheep, the people. He was the Perfect Shepherd of Israel. We love reading and hearing about the miracles of Jesus, the healing of the lame, deaf, blind, raising the dead, calming the storm on the lake, feeding the 5,000, turning water into wine etc. They proved he really was the Son of God and many people came to Jesus to see his next miracle., but Jesus saw much deeper than that. He wanted to physically heal and feed people but he understood that they needed spiritual food, spiritual drink, to look after the spiritual part of each person, the inner man and woman, and bring healing, peace, and a future to each person. When he saw the crowds he was moved with compassion because they were lonely and confused, like sheep without a shepherd left to run around in any direction without guidance or protection. No one had told them about the Kingdom of God, no one had told them to seek the Kingdom of Heaven, no one had told them that keeping the laws of God was the best way to live. Jesus response was to teach them many things. He really really cared about the people. He had a deep compassion that meant he did something about it because he wanted every person he met to be in His Kingdom forever. A few short years later he gave his life for his sheep. Now that is really caring. Lonely and confused, like sheep without a shepherd, doesn't that describe many people in the world today?When we meet people like that what is our response. To pass them by, feel sorry for them, give them some money or food, or do we have a deep compassion for them that says, I care about you enough to want to share the message of Jesus with you. So what did Jesus teach? We don't know exactly what he taught that day but we know the main messages he gave to people throughout his 3 years of ministry and I am sure that many if not all were covered.
What did Jesus teach? These are all lessons we need today.
1. The Kingdom of God is coming – God always takes the long view and his ultimate purpose is to establish the kingdom of God.
2 That God loves US.
For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
3 That we should love God and love others
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength and love your neighbour as yourself. Mark 12 v 30
Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Matthew 7 v 12
4 God blesses us when we obey him
God blesses those who are humble for they shall inherit the earth
God blesses those who are merciful for they shall receive mercy
God blesses those whose hearts are pure for they shall see God.
God blesses those who work for peace for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
5 The way to heaven – Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to God the Father. John 14 v 6
6 That he is coming back again to take his children to be with him forever.
Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my fathers house. If this was not so would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready I will come and get you, so that you will be always with me where I am. John 14 v 1-2
7 There will be a new and perfect heaven and new earth – the Kingdom of God.
But Jesus was very practical and his compassion was both spiritual and material. It seems it was quite a long sermon! Jesus saw that the people were hungry to learn, but they were also hungry for physical food. His disciples were not so compassionate and wanted to chase the people away to buy food but Jesus had to teach them a lesson and to show the people that he was concerned about all their needs.
12 Chapter 6 verses 35 - 43
Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy something to eat.
But Jesus said “You feed them.”
“With what.” they asked. “We'd have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people.!”
How much bread do you have? He asked. “Go and find out.”
They came back and reported, “We have 5 loaves of bread and two fish.”
Then Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of fifty or a hundred.
Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed from those loaves.
Just like Global in normal times – food for the soul, the inner person, and then the body. Sometimes when I am serving the rice or vegetables for sunday lunch I suddenly realise I may have been too generous and it looks like I'm running out but always Lin or Lindsay turn up with another pot and I can relax again. Jesus didn't have to do that. He just went on supplying from his unlimited power and resources. David who went from being shepherd boy of Bethlehem to king of Israel had a, lot of life experience, some good, some bad, but through it all he learned to have complete trust in the ultimate, the very best, shepherd. He wrote one of the most beautiful poems, we call Psalms in the centre of the bible. Lets read it together.
The Lord is my Shepherd,
I have everything I need
He lets me rest in green meadows,
He leads me beside peaceful streams
He renews my strength
He guides me along right paths bringing honour to his name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me,
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies
You honour me by anointing my head with oil
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
While preparing this over the past week I have been really enjoying the first and last parts of this psalm. Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need …............ and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
When we come to know this shepherd as ours, when we join his flock, and enter his kingdom we can rest in peace and trust that he will see us through the storms of life and bring us safe to our final perfect harbour. Jesus never promised us that he would take all the problems away from us, but he has promised that he will give us the strength and courage to face up to them and survive them. It is important to realise when we are down in the valley, or in the trough of the wave, and can't see any way out that “this too shall pass” and as we pass through “one day at a time” we find that eventually there is a solution. Jesus promised “I will never leave you or forsake you”. If you are in trouble it is very important to talk about it with Pastor Mike, or Lin or Gordon or Barbara or someone you know and trust with some life and spiritual experience. We are your family here. After Jesus rose from the dead he had a special message for Peter, again around food
After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
A third time he asked him,
“Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said
“Lord, you know everything. You know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” John 21 v 15 – 17
As Jesus came almost to the end of his life on earth he knew the problems and persecution his disciples were going to experience so he had a special 'last Supper' with his disciples and left us a special meal in order to remember that no matter what we are facing, Jesus has faced far more. He gave his life for us. So lets take the bread and drink you have prepared and take our minds back to the sea of Galilee and Jesus feeding over five thousand people, think of the teaching that Jesus gave to his disciples and how this applies to you, and think of the sacrifice that Jesus made for you. Remember Jesus wants to share this meal with you as his friends while he waits to share the grand wedding feast in heaven..
As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples saying , “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”
And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many. Mark my words – I will not drink wine again until I drink it new with you in my Father's Kingdom. Matthew 26 v 26 - 29
1 Which sheep do you identify with today?
(a) The little lamb resting in peace and security in the shepherds arm?
(b) The sheep on the right looking to the shepherd for guidance and food
(c) The lamb resting on the ground at the feet of Jesus
(d) The sheep on the left looking for: (suggest what ????????)
2 We often think of Jesus doing miracles of healing, feeding, raising the dead etc
What do you think of Jesus response in this story to “teach them many things”
3 We all need protection, feeding, and teaching (Shepherding)
Does Jesus call us all, whatever level we are at, to be shepherds also
4 Have you ever felt the shepherds staff around your neck pulling you in
(a) a direction you didn't want to go (b) away from danger you did not know existed OR (c) the staff providing support when we need it
5 What have you learned from today that brought you closer to God and that you can put into practice this week.