Sending, Feeding, Water walking
I love spending time around the Burnhams where I spent my childhood, reminiscing about how things were and noting the changes that have taken place since.
Jesus returned with his disciples to Nazareth where he had spent his childhood and early adulthood. I don't think somehow that he had gone to reminisce and visit his old haunts. The call on His life was to “be about His Father's business”, and although He possibly visited His mother and family, His main intent was to go to the synagogue and share the good news, and to heal and bless the people who lived there.
His visit to the temple brought to light two distinct realisations in the people.
1. Those who heard Him were astonished! This man had not had any higher education, and yet He was speaking with such authority and knowledge. “Where did this man get these things?” They asked. “What wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!”
2. They knew who He was. A local lad. It was probably only a year or two since He left his father's carpentry business. They knew His mother, His brothers and sisters. But they were offended at Him. They could not accept that somebody brought up alongside them could now claim to be a Rabbi and teach them.
So Jesus could not do any mighty work there because of their unbelief. Their pride had robbed them of such blessing.
Jesus called his twelve disciples to Himself, and then commissioned them. He gave them power over unclean spirits. And then they went out in twos into the villages to preach repentance to the people. They could reach six times as many people this way. Jesus gave them instructions about what they should take with them and where they should stay. In each village they were to stay in one house, and if they were not accepted in the village they were to “shake the dust off their feet” as a testimony against that village. They were not to take a suitcase with them! No money, no food, no change of clothing, only a staff! They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.
On their return, they told Jesus all about it, what they had done and what they had taught. Jesus then gave them some sound advice. “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” After a period of sustained ministry we all need to take time to rest and recuperate, otherwise we would be in danger of burnout. We must spend some time with God and His word, so that we can receive from Him, to enable us to continue to give out.
As it happened, as Jesus and His disciples went off in a boat to find a quiet place across the other side of the lake, the crowds caught wind of this and ran round the shore of the lake to meet them at the other side. Jesus was not angry. He had compassion for them, because He knew they were like sheep without a shepherd. The Jewish Rabbis were more interested in feathering their own nests than caring for and teaching the people. So Jesus began to teach them. It is interesting that although the disciples needed some peace and quiet and a time to recuperate, they were now in the thick of it again! There were probably between ten and fifteen thousand people, including women and children. I don't know what the average crowd at Carrow Road is these days in a normal season, but it must be around that number. It was getting late in the day! “Let's send the people back home, so we can relax a bit. They can get food from the local villages.” Jesus then said to them “You give them something to eat!”
“WHAT! How can we do that? We don't have the money or the resources! I don't think the local baker will be able to help us much. We would need to fish every day for months to get enough fish. Impossible!”
A young boy presented his lunch to the disciples, consisting of five bread rolls and two small fish. “But what is that among so many?”
It was enough in the hands of Jesus! He did the impossible! In fact they had twelve baskets full of the remains!
God can work, even when we are tired and worn out!
The Water Walking
The people had had their fill, and were now making their way home. The disciples got into their boat to row back across the lake. Jesus had sent the people away, and then went up the mountain to spend some time with His Father. Night was drawing in and the disciples were rowing hard, but it was a struggle because they were heading into the wind. They had rowed for some hours in the darkness when they saw something gliding across the lake towards them. It looked like a man, so it must be a ghost! Men can't walk on water! The figure started to overtake them. The Bible says “they were troubled!” Rather an understatement I would think! But then the voice came across the water; “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Jesus came into the boat with the disciples, and immediately the wind ceased.
Our God is the God of the impossible.