- Come Behold The Wondrous Mystery
- Wonderful Maker
- IntroductionGood morning and welcome to Dishman Baptist Church - we are so thankful that you would join us. If you are new please take a moment to fill out the connection card pinned to the comment section in Facebook. Please take your Bible and turn with me to Mark 6, Mark 6.We’re going to begin a journey this week, and over the next several weeks, through one of the most well known and pivotal points of Scripture. We’re going to be looking at the event known as the feeding of the 5000. This event is so pivotal that it is one of the few events that is recorded in all four Gospels. Beyond Christ’s baptism and the events surrounding much of Passion Week, this is the only event that all four Gospel writers felt was important enough to include. They do not all tell us of Jesus birth, many of His miracles or of many of His teachings. But this particular miracle is included by all four. And it is even a fundamental piece of Scripture to proving not only the truth of the event but the cohesiveness of the Bible all together.In a few weeks, when we get to the miracle itself, we’ll talk a bit about unintended coincidences. But here we are presented this passage this morning. It is a familiar miracle to anyone who has been around church for any amount of time. And there is a tendency to think that we should move through it quickly - allowing the familiarity to lull us into the idea that we know all this. We get it. We were taught this in Sunday School. We can recite this in our sleep.But then we would miss some pretty interesting observations and principles for our lives and spiritual walk. So, just as we did with the parable of the sower, let’s slow down. Let’s take our time with this critical passage and really wring it out as we look at it for all of the value that we can get. The path forward is that this week we’ll be looking at Mark 6:30-33 the disciple’s return and we’ll be studying a theology of rest. Next week we’re only going to look at Mark 6:34 as we examine the attributes and characteristics of Christ that are revealed in that verse. And then in three weeks we’ll get into the miracle itself. So now that you have the road map, let’s look at our Bibles and read Mark 6:30-33.The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place, but many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they ran on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.On the surface this would appear to be a rather innocuous report of the disciples return to Christ. But there is something significant here that is taking place. It started back in Mark 6:7 when Jesus summoned the disciples to Himself and then in verse 12 when He sends them out to preach. It continues as an undercurrent of the story of John the Baptist’s beheading by Herod as the last of the Old Testament prophets was removed from the earth. And now the Apostles have returned. So here we see the beginning of a transition, the passing of a mantle of sorts.The transition is that after John’s arrest - the impetus for the start of Christ’s preaching ministry according to Mark 1:14 - Christ was the sole preacher of the Gospel, the message of repentance, throughout Galilee. The religious leaders that He came into contact with, even though they could not refute the power of His teaching or the power behind His miracles, refused to follow His lead. He chose 12 uneducated men, eleven from Galilee (the very region they had just been sent out to preach in) and He had taught them and commissioned them to carry His message of repentance throughout the countryside.We are witnessing the very beginning of a transfer of ministry from Christ to the Apostles. Also included in the story of John the Baptist is a foreshadowing of what will happen to those who preach repentance - that a cruel and vindictive world will rise up against their message and kill them. This truth is demonstrated in the life of Christ and it is further demonstrated in the lives of the men who now return to Him from their mission as 10 of the 11 who remain faithful church history reports that they would be martyred for the faith. So what can we learn from this passage today? What can we pull out that is applicable to our lives in the 21st century as we look at a seemingly routine reunion of men who had been sent out on mission?This passage has three important lessons for us in our context today. The first is to maintain the correct focus in our ministry. We’ll see this point as we look at the disciple’s report in verse 30. Then we’ll see the importance of rest and maybe how Christ’s definition of that idea and our definitions differ. We’ll look at this in verses 31 and 32. And finally we’re going to see that no matter where we are the work never really stops in verse 33. Our outline is the Disciples Report, the Workers Refresh and the Work Returns. First let’s look at the Disciple’s Report.The Disciples ReportMark starts off by saying that the apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him everything they had done and taught. Being the father of five kids and having coached several soccer teams of kids under the ages of 6 and 8 I can imagine a little what this scene may have been like. Not that the apostles were children - I can remember times in the Navy after a particularly interesting port visit or following a period where many of those we worked with were gone on leave the noise of their return was cacophonous and confused. Everyone wanted to share their stories. Everyone would be talking over one another or laughing at someone’s story. They would have been reminding each other of details and events. The brothers may have been catching up with one another if they’d had different travelling partners. Basically it would be an atmosphere of celebration and it is important for us to first grasp that we have a Savior, we have a Lord who does celebrate our accomplishments with us.But before we get to that, we should also recognize the subtle shift that can often happen when we are in service to the Kingdom. It is a subtle shift of focus that has the potential to take our eyes off of what really matters and to place them on lesser things. Look back with me to Mark 6:12-13 as Christ sends the apostles out on their mission.So they went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons, anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.The core of this goes even further back in the book to the initial summoning of the apostles in Mark 3Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons.Notice the order of taskings that were given to the apostles in these passages. In Mark 3 He summons those He wanted for the purpose of sending them out to preach and to have authority over demons. Then fast forward with me to Mark 6:12-13 where the apostles are sent out and they go preaching repentance and driving out demons. First they are to teach and then they are to do. First the message and then the miracles. First the Gospel and then the validating proofs. Now look back at our passage for this morning.The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and taught.The apostles report first what they had done and then what they had taught. Somewhere along the way their focus had shifted slightly, subtly from the important message they had been sent out with to the practical applications that the power they were given enabled them to do. This is borne out again later as Jesus will send out another contingent - this time of 72 preachers. In Luke 10 the teams return and report to Jesus and notice what He says to them.However, don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”Don’t rejoice in what you do. Don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you. Instead rejoice in the truth of the message that you preach. Rejoice that, not only your names, but also those of those who heard you and submitted to your message are written in Heaven.This is not to say that we serve a Savior who is a kill-joy or who does not celebrate the accomplishments of His children. He is not a sour taskmaster standing with arms crossed wondering why we have such joy. He is not an Ebenezer Scrooge figure who says bah-humbug. We do not serve a King who will one day look at us over crossed arms and down His nose as He sourly pronounces “well done good and faithful servant.”Paul looked forward to the day when he would stand before his Lord having finished his course.I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing.Our Savior celebrates what His servants do. But it is always a celebration focused primarily on Christ exalting work more than Christ honoring work. In Luke 15 Jesus tells three parables that shines a light for us on the celebratory atmosphere in Heaven. At the end of the parable of the lost sheep He says thisI tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need repentance.And then in Luke 15:10 following the parable of the lost coinI tell you, in the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents.”Heaven celebrates accomplishments which are tied to the Gospel and the proclamation of truth that leads to the conversion of sinners over actions that, as good as they may be, don’t necessarily lead to conversions. This is a lesson the disciples missed on these early trips (both this one and the one they would be sent out on later in Christ’s ministry) but it is not one they never learned. When faced with a challenge in Acts 6 that could have distracted them from the teaching and proclamation of the message, the Apostles focused more on the importance of what they were to teach than what they could get involved with doing.Many times in our own ministries we are more like the pre-crucifixion iteration of the apostles on mission than those after the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Christ. We go on missions trips and spend two weeks repainting schools and digging wells but only a couple hours sharing the Gospel. This is not to say that we should not have works that back up our faith or that we should never do benevolent projects that better people’s lives. But when the focus becomes our doing over our teaching we’ve placed our eyes on the wrong thing.The apostles returned focusing more on what they had done than what they had taught. The question for us as we look at this is where is our focus? This isn’t even about learning or head knowledge, it’s not about growth or development. It is the question of whether we are more focused on the trappings or activities of the Christian life (and the good works that are the validation of that life) or on fulfilling the singularly consistent command that Christ has given to each one of us?Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”Where is your focus this morning?And that is a good question for us to ask - but it is not where we will stop because there is more for us in this passage. The disciples had just returned from a preaching tour through Galilee and they would have understandably been tired. Christ calls them aside and it is here that we can develop a theology of rest as we observe how the workers refresh.The Workers RefreshHe said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while.” For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place,We should recognize something about our Savior in this passage. When I was in the Navy we had a saying of “what have you done for me lately?” Meaning that you may have done some good things but you need to continue to do more and better things, or at least continue to do the things you did in the past, there was no time for rest you always had to be doing something. But our Savior is not that way. We serve a loving and benevolent master, not a cruel taskmaster who will continuously demand more of us. We serve a King who allows for rest. But the question is do we allow for rest in those around us? Do we make allowances for people in various ministries to take a time of rest? Christ does that very thing with the disciples here - “come away by yourselves to a remote place” why? Because the people were always there, coming and going, needing and they didn’t even have time to eat.This seems entirely legitimate. In fact there are a few of us who are reading this and thinking “oh what a beautiful thought because I need a rest from what I’m going through right now.” Home schooling. Crisis schooling. Social distancing. Quarantine. Stay home, stay safe. Many of us need a break from this break that we are all being forced to take right now. Thank goodness there is now at least a light at the end of the tunnel. State parks are opening up. Fishing is opening tomorrow. Now that’s rest - at least our definition of rest. Reading for this sermon I read a few different illustrations and one had specifically to do with fishing.President Herbert Hoover once said this
Fishing is a chance to wash one’s soul with pure air, with the ripple of the stream and the shimmer of the sun on the blue waters.
It brings meekness and inspiration from the glory and wonder of nature, and charity toward tackle-makers. It brings mockery and profits; the quieting of hate and lift of the spirit. And it brings rejoicing that one does not have to decide a thing until next week.
An Assyrian tablet of 2000 B.C. says:
The Gods do not subtract.
From the allotted span of men’s lives
The hours spent in fishing.
—Herbert HooverThere was once a preacher who concluded his announcements stating that he had decided not to take a vacation that summer because the devil doesn’t take a vacation. But that again mischaracterizes the idea of what Christ meant when He talks of rest. If we’re going to understand what Christ is saying to His disciples here. If we are going to develop a theology of rest we need to allow Him to define the terms.Left up to us we would use this verse to justify luxurious vacations or even gratuitous times of downtime. And there are times when those things are okay - and we are allowed in Christian freedom to take those. But there is something deeper and more important here for us than that. What does Christ mean by rest? How would He define the terms R&R?We would define them as rest and relaxation or rest and recreation. But I would submit to you that Christ would define these terms as rest and reverence, rest and recharging or rest and reconnecting.We’ve already seen an example of this in the life of Christ in the book of Mark. In Mark 1:35 Christ gets up early, retires to a deserted place to get away from the crowds. But He’s not there for leisure. He’s not there because the sleeping accommodations are better. He’s not there for the scenery, the food or any other reason except to pray. He seeks a time of rest and refreshment from His Father.In Luke before He calls the twelve to be His disciples He went out to a mountain and prayed. Many times when we see Christ going off on His own to get “rest” it is a time that He spends in prayer to the Father. Immediately following the miracle we are about to study we see Jesus putting His disciples in boats, dismissing the crowd and then retiring to the mountain for a time of prayer.And this is what He is calling the disciples away to here.He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake.He renews my life - He, God, our source of power and strength renews our life when we follow Him. And yet we live more comfortably in a world of “what have you done for me lately” than in one where we are being called aside to rest.Charles Spurgeon once said
IN Cromwell’s time, a writer tells us that he walked all down Cheapside in the early morning and found all the blinds down, because at every house they were having family prayer. Where will one go to find such a state of things in this burning age? You are up in the morning and at it; and all day long you are at it, and at it, and at it. Little rest is given to our minds, and yet we want holy rest.Kingdom work is hard work. The Christian life is hard work. Evangelism is hard work. Thankfully there are two truths we can take away from this - the first is that we do not do the work in our own power. Look back briefly at Mark 6:7. It says that He gave them authority. He also gave them power in speech and action. When we are seeking to do the work our Savior has called us to we can rest in the sure fact that it is in His power that we are doing it and not in our own strength.The second great assurance we can take from this is that we serve a benevolent Savior who offers us the opportunity to rest - to be renewed by His Spirit. To check in to make sure we are still in alignment with His will. To recharge our own spiritual reserves because there is one other sure truth about ministry - it never really stops.The Work Returnsbut many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they ran on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.Whether the boat never really got that far away from shore so the people knew where Jesus was taking the disciples or they just were so star struck by the spectacle of Jesus, and now even His disciples, that they were willing to follow them down the shore. The disciples mission had been so spectacular and successful that it caught the attention of the entire countryside and of Herod as Chuck taught us last week. So what had been a large draw already became an even larger draw. As the crowd went along the shoreline following the boat it swelled with those in towns who also had heard about this preacher from Nazareth and now had either come into contact with His disciples or heard of their mission as well.Imagine for a moment the potential disheartening feeling for the disciples as they were travelling down the shoreline on the boat and they could see the crowd on shore growing and growing. I think of two illustrations. The first is a story from the Civil War about the first big battle between the Northern and Southern armies. The battle started and the North had been having a pretty good show of things. But the southern army was receiving reinforcements from a railway line from western Virginia and as the northern armies were pressing up the hill they kept seeing the troops they were attacking getting deeper and deeper whereas their lines were remaining the same - this was so demoralizing to them that they finally broke and retreated losing the first battle. Now that’s a simplified description to all that happened.The other illustration is from my Navy career. We returned from a six month deployment and a few weeks later we were back underway taking our ship to our Commanding Officers home town for what we would call a “dog and pony” show. We were tired. We’d expected more of a break. But here we were back underway and back at work. It also was demoralizing.But that is often the way that ministry is - and it does not matter whether you are a paid staff member, a volunteer in children’s ministry, a leader of a life or a home group or someone who seeks to share the Gospel. There will be people in your life who need you and they don’t even know why. Many of the people in this crowd running down the shoreline had no idea why they were chasing the disciples or the boat except that there was something about this teacher from Nazareth. And there is something about you if you are a follower of His.They do not know why but they are drawn to you because of the compassion you show, the love you have and the power that is at work within you to teach the truth.There are those outside the church who will need you. There are also those inside the church who will need you. Unlike those outside the church, there will be people placed in your life by God who know exactly why they need you. Or they may also have no idea - they just know they need what you have. And so you will be called upon to disciple them.The work never stops.ConclusionWhich is why it is so important for us to have a clear understanding of where our priorities lie. Are we more enamored by doing? Or by the Gospel power and proclamation that enables us to do? Where is our focus as we get ready to come out of this time of forced isolation? How has God been working in your life to prepare you for the work He has for you?This has been a time of forced rest for many of us - how have you taken advantage of it? Has it been a time of rest and relaxation? Of rest and recreation? Or has this been a time of rest and renewal? Of rest and reverence? Of rest and rejuvenation where the Lord has grown you?If you are not His disciple - if you are one of those who like the crowd are chasing His boat but you don’t really know why. Maybe someone told you you should tune in to this livestream or watch the video - there is a message here for you as well. Christ sent His apostles out with a message of repentance. It is a message that still needs to be heard today. It is the message that you are a sinner - that you have violated God’s holy laws and because of that you stand in danger of His condemnation.He can’t just forgive you any more than a judge could justly forgive a lawbreaker in our courts. And there are no gradations of sin - it says in James that if you break the law at one point you’ve broken all of them and you are guilty. But I hope you noticed that I said you are in danger of condemnation.The reason I say it that way is because God, in His mercy and grace, has not condemned you yet - He is giving you this moment to hear His Gospel. We’ve spoken extensively of Christ during this message - He came truly God and truly man, He lived a perfect life and then He died on the cross sinless - to take the wrath that God could legitimately pour out on you for your sins upon Himself. He did this out of love for His Father and love for you.But you must repent - meaning you confess your sins and you place your faith in Him for what He did on your behalf - and then live a life that exalts Christ out of love for what He did for you. What is it that would stop you from doing that today? What is it that would prevent you from calling out to Him right now.Another thing that Jesus said about rest is that all those who are heavy laden can come to Him and He will give them rest. Are you heavy laden under the burden of your sin, under the burden of the lifestyle that you are living, under the knowledge that there is something more than just this life and that one day you will have to face it and you are uncertain of what your future might be? He has the answers for you. His burden is light - because it is completely finished. You don’t have to earn your way, He’s already paid your debt in full. Come and experience His rest today.
2 Timothy 4:7–8CSB
- The Solid Rock
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