I’m struck by the response of Jesus to his disciples in Mark 6:37 after they’d become wrapped up in the revelation of a growing problem. The disciples saw a multitude of people who had followed them out into a desolate place and it began to dawn on them that there were a lot of people present, but no obvious solution for feeding them…and the sun was moving west fast.
In their desire to be solution-focused, they didn’t just come to Jesus with a need, they had a solution for addressing the need. Perhaps they were even stumbling over each other to take credit for identifying the need and pointing it out to the Creator of the Universe.
“Lord of all the Universe…Creator of everything seen and unseen…there are a lot of people here (stress) and they are growing hungry (panic), and it is getting late in the day (urgency), and this is a desolate place (no visible solution). Send them away so they can go to the area towns and get something to eat (logical response). But then, the logic of Jesus…the logic of heaven, is just a bit different from here right? Jesus simply says, “You give them something to eat.”
Let’s Rewind a Bit
The Twelve had recently returned from being sent out to take the Kingdom message. There were healings, people were set free from the demonic…crazy stuff was happening just like Jesus had done…but it was happening through these fishermen and tax collectors…these unschooled, uneducated men (Acts 4:13). They had stories…boy did they have stories! The emotions these common ordinary men were experiencing must have been overwhelming as they attempted to grasp Heaven’s power moving through them. And to top off the situation, this story takes place right as we learn of the death of John the Baptist, so I wonder if Jesus and the disciples were wrestling with an intense mixture of emotions at this time.
Jesus makes the call in Mark 6:31 to take the Twelve away to a lonely place to rest and absorb what has been experienced…you know, let it all sink in a bit. As they push off from shore, the disciples see the crowd appearing smaller and smaller as the boat moves out into the lake.
Ahhh…peace and quiet… This is going to be good guys…just us and the God who’s existed from eternity past to eternity future.
But that crowd was filled with desperate and hungry people. Perhaps not physically hungry…at least not yet…but the people had seen and heard things their religious leaders had never brought to the synagogues before…and there was an unfamiliar hope building within them. To stand along that shore and watch as this man like no other man they’d ever experienced in their lifetime sailed away with a crew of knuckleheads was completely unacceptable…it was not an option!
Desperate People Do Desperate Things
Those people along the shore took off. No, they didn’t get in their cars or get on their Harley Davidson Road King Classics…they ran. They ran hard and they got to the place Jesus and the boys were sailing ahead of them. They ran so hard, no one even thought about how far out of town they were, and no one thought about whether they had enough food, water, blankets to lay on the hard dirty ground, lawn chairs to recline in, etc…they just ran, and they kept their eyes on that little boat out on the water because they couldn’t lose sight of it for a moment or they may lose track of that man.
So, it was the intention of Jesus to take the boys on a weekend boat trip to get away from the stressors of ministry. But it sure seems to me that God was interrupted by the desperate hearts of the people. You see, when Jesus saw the multitudes awaiting his arrival on the other side of the lake, it was said he felt compassion and began to teach them about how things operate in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Think about the impact a desperate heart can have on circumstances for a moment before moving on. This isn’t a one-time situation in the bible. Remember the woman who struggled with an unhealable hemorrhage for 12 years? Her desperation led her to do an unthinkable thing within the culture she lived. She pressed through a crowd (probably the majority if not all being men), believing that by simply touching the cloak of Jesus, she would be healed. Jesus was on his way to the house of a guy named Jairus when he was stopped in his tracks (interrupted) because he felt healing power come out of him when the woman touched his cloak. Her story of desperation stopping the God of Heaven in his tracks is forever recorded in Luke 8:43-48 for all to read.
Faithlessness Creates Distractions
So now we’ve reached the point of the beginning of this story where the well-intentioned disciples were busy stressing about this growing need that the God of the Universe was apparently unaware of. Remember, God-in-the-flesh was speaking to the people, but the disciples were wrapped up in a need and although they may have heard his voice speaking, they probably weren’t really paying much attention to what he was saying because something more important was going on and Jesus’ head was so far in the clouds with religious ideas, he was out of tune with the everyday needs of the people…..right? Well…maybe not so much.
As they nervously talked amongst themselves about who was going to be appointed to go and interrupt God Almighty during his teaching, it was finally decided they would go together because…as they say, strength in numbers.
So they get his attention and point out the need that’s preoccupied their minds for some time. They made the God of the rising and setting sun, the God who hung the planets in the orbits of the solar system, the God who knew every star of the sky, they made THIS God aware of the great need they currently faced, and brought him up to speed on the obvious “facts” of the situation. You know, the part about a lot of people, no food, the setting sun, and the desolate place kind-of-stuff.
I can imagine the Lord of Lord’s reaction in that moment. He probably looked down at the watch on his left wrist quickly, in disbelief at how time got away from him. He probably had a nervous chuckle as his eyes darted around thinking about his options. Maybe he had an irritated look on his face because he counted on his disciples to point this “fact” out much earlier than they did. No…actually that’s not how it went down at all.
Now, before I go on, I want to make it clear I was not actually there that day…but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express so I know a little something about some things.
So Jesus hears the concerns voiced by those twelve loveable but short-sighted disciples of his, probably pauses as he hears how the Father wants to resolve this need, and simply responds, “You give them something to eat.” Why…I bet he even turned away after saying that, not even giving the disciples the satisfaction of responding with some unpleasant look.
A Difference in Perspectives
What I gather from this story is the great difference between how Heaven sees things and how we see things. The place was desolate yet Jesus saw it as a place of abundance. The disciples saw things from a perspective of “need”, but Jesus saw things from the perspective of “opportunity”. The disciples looked to Jesus to meet the needs…Jesus looked at his disciples and implied, “You’ve been given the authority to take care of this need.”
Living Heaven to Earth
My friends and I are going through a book and video series written by Bill Johnson called “The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind”. Bill says continually that God’s will for our lives is “on earth as it is in Heaven.” Think about this for a moment: God wants to see his followers bring Heaven to earth. From where I stand, it seems the Church is going the wrong way on a one-way (as my grandfather would have said). We’re living from earth to heaven. Instead of seeing solutions and abundance from Heaven toward earth, we’re overwhelmed with the needs in our family, our community, our nation, etc. and we look from earth toward Heaven and say:
“What’s Up! I thought you were a loving God! Do you even see what is going on down here?”
Because we live from a position of “need” verses a position of “answers”, the message of the Gospel we bring has become irrelevant…it lacks the power to bring real solutions to real problems…and misses the opportunity of introducing to an unbelieving world the nature of the God we follow. The world is not interested in that gospel…they’re not interested in that god.
Jesus said in John 10:10 that he came to bring “life”. The English language can be so inadequate sometimes. The Greek word used to represent life is translated like this:
(in the sense of beyond); superabundant (in quantity) or superior (in quality); by implication excessive; exceeding abundantly above, more abundantly, advantage, exceedingly, very highly, beyond measure, more, superfluous, vehement
I know…way too much information…but for a person to live this life from the perspective of Heaven toward earth, we are able to see things from a place of abundance as opposed to need, from a position of opportunity verses opposition.
Let me make this even more personal. From a place of Heaven looking toward earth, we can see people in a totally different light. We can see diamonds-in-the-rough verses seeing mistakes. We can see beyond the brokenness of the surface of a person to what God sees deep within that person…after all, he made no mistakes.
Way Too Long!
Wrapping this way too long story up here…
We occupy a place in this world. For some, they’re living the dream and they see it as a place of abundance. For others, they see it as a desolate place filled with needs. As followers of Christ…(if you are one) lets accept the responsibility that we’ve been authorized to see what is taking place in Heaven and declare it here on this earth…
“You give them something to eat.”