Part 1 – Power for Ministry
Most of us have heard of the word “ministry” but what does it mean? From the first part of our text today (Mark 6.30-44), we will discover what ministry means from a practical application.
Ministry is work. Mark 6.30-31.
“The Apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’”
Why is the ministry work?
We are told in Scripture that the followers of Jesus were so busy with people coming and going to hear the words being told to them that they did not even have time to eat. With so many people coming and going this tells us that some of the people were receptive to the word while others were not. (Whenever you meet this kind of challenge, ministry is hard work.)
Ministry is everywhere. Mark 6.32-33.
“So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.”
Ministry has a way of finding us. A need will recognize the need filler. The people were needy and Jesus was the need filler. Jesus as much as said this himself when he said, “it is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Ministry is heart-felt. Mark 6.34.
“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”
Ministry is an issue of the heart whether it is ministry unto God or man but how do we get a heart for ministry? The obvious answer is you pray for a heart for ministry but is this, the correct answer? Is there a calling from God?
Allowing God’s power to take control of our ministry, gives us that heart for ministry. Man alone does not have the heat for ministry, it is by God living in and taking up residence in our heart that gives us a true open heart for God’s work.
Ministry is anytime. Mark 6.35-36.
“When the disciples thought this had gone on long enough–it was now quite late in the day–they interrupted: ‘We are a long way out in the country, and it is very late. Pronounce a benediction and send these folks off so they can get some supper.’”
As far as the disciples were concerned this ministry was going on far too long. They were tired and I think felt that people were in some ways taking advantage of them. A little later they will say it is also far too expensive. They knew that the people were going to need to eat and they had nothing to offer them.
Ministry is personal. Mark 6.37-38.
“But he answered, you give them something to eat.”
- The disciples were sure that the answer to meeting the needs of the multitude was to send them to someone else but Jesus put the responsibility back on the church.
- There will always be those who will ask how much it is going to cost if they were to get involved but the real question should be who is going to help.
- If we were honest we would rather talk about our rights as Christians rather than our responsibilities as Christians.
Ministry is giving. Mark 6.38.
“How many loaves of bread do you have? Take an inventory. That didn’t take long.” “‘Five,’” they said, “‘plus two small fishes.’”
- We can only give what we have. Jesus said, “take an inventory.” An inventory is a list of what you have, not what you have not. Jesus wanted his followers to see with their eye exactly what they had.
- We don’t have to have a lot. Seeing only with their eyes they determined that they had very little.
- We are encouraged not to hold anything back. Notice he only asked about the loaves. He said nothing about the fish. Jesus had a plan to show the power of God, because he saw through the open eyes of god not the closed eyes of man.
Ministry is unifying. Mark 6.39-40.
“Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.”
Ministry is about bringing people together. Jesus is about to unite thousands of people, through the power of God.
Ministry is God-Centered. Mark 6.41.
“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the bread.”
Many times we are hindered by our lack of resources. Or what we believe is our lack of resources. But we have to look up. God is able. (Through his word we have at our command the resources and power of the kingdom.)
Ministry is satisfying. Mark 6.42.
“They all ate and were satisfied.”
Jesus did two miracles. There was the miracle of Quantity and there was the miracle of Quality. Not only was there enough bread and fish but surely it was the best bread and fish. What limits can be put on God? Only the limits that we place on him ourselves. (Many times we pray for a protective hedge around us, do we limit God with something so flimsy as a hedge, why not a protective steel wall)
Ministry is growth. Mark 6.43-44.
“and the disciples picked up twelve pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.”
- We sit and ask ourselves if our ministry is working or is it fruitful. What does it take for us to see success in our ministry? (A farmer judges his success in crops by the harvest or the fruit that is created. Should we not also judge our success also by the fruit and harvest?)
- God is interested in numbers. In some ways numbers are reference points. They tell us how successful something was in relation to something else.
Part 2 – Power over Nature (Mark 6.45-42)
After feeding the masses, Jesus sends off the disciples with plans to join them later. But what they didn’t know was how!
1. Jesus took 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fishes – one little boy’s lunch as we are told in John 6:8 – and fed 5000 men, let alone women and children. Jesus did a great miracle. Jesus sent his disciples on ahead with the boat telling them, he would catch up to them later.
- First Jesus dismissed the crowds with some final words, and then went to pray.
- In the meantime, the disciples head out onto the water. Soon, the disciples were in trouble. A storm had arisen, and they were in the middle of the sea. Note that Jesus did not keep them from the storm; he allowed them to enter into the storm. We all face storms and it is Jesus that calms the storms that we face. Jesus has power over the storm.
2. The disciples had been struggling for hours with the oars; Jesus came out walking on the water. They didn’t know where He had been – they probably figured off doing something else important, or not. But all along, He had been watching from where He was sitting.
3. When Jesus does show up, they don’t even recognize Him. They even think He’s a ghost. The disciples are scared; you would be too if you had just seen a ghost. When we are frightened, overwhelmed by the challenges we face, sometimes feeling like we won’t pull through.
- Verse 48 says that he meant to pass them by. Not so that they would fail to see him, but so that they would see him walking on the water, thus giving visible evidence of his deity. Jesus has power over the water. (Compare Exodus 33.18-23 where Moses saw God’s glory as He passed by.)
- Just as in life Jesus did not pass them by, when he saw they were in need he stopped and got in the boat with them. Jesus helped calm the storm and their fear. Jesus has power over fear.
4. The disciples had been struggling with the waves all night. They had gone through much of the storm. They had been wondering about drowning for hours. They had been wondering where Jesus was. No doubt they had prayed. And Jesus still had not shown up. Jesus did not follow any time table or was held to any time frame. He came in his own time, just in time, when he was most needed. (Where do we fall short in placing Jesus on a time table?)
Well, what’s the connection? What do multiplied loaves and calmed waters have to do with each other? In each case, the miracle simply boiled down to one thing: having our needs met. With the loaves and fishes it was the need to be fed, with the storm it was the need to be safe. In each of the two cases there was a need that needed to be met and through the power of God, and it was Jesus who met those needs. Too often, we are like the disciples – too clueless to this fact. We don’t realize that without Jesus we can do nothing, we have nothing, we are nothing.
Part 3 – Power over Sickness (Mark 6.53-56)
After the two great miracles, many will overlook the healings that are grouped together at the end of Mark 6. Like the previous miracles though, these healings represent Jesus meeting the needs of others.
The gospel records that when Jesus left the boat the people immediately recognized him. What did they recognize in Jesus? A prophet, a healer, the Messiah, the Son of God? Certainly, the people recognized that Jesus had power from God to heal and to make whole bodies, limbs, minds, and hearts that were beset with disease, affliction, and sin. What happened when they pressed upon him and touched the fringe of his garment? They were made well. Jesus is ever ready to meet our needs as well. The approached Him expecting to be healed and they were. Do we come to Jesus expectantly? However, these people barely knew Jesus compared to the disciples. Going back to Part 2 the disciples did not recognize Jesus when they saw him from the boat. Jesus a man they had spent time with and had chosen to follow, yet they did not recognize him. However, the strangers on the shore new Jesus the second they saw him.
The JOURNEY letter for this week is J – Jesus. In each story it is important to note the reaction of those around Him – particularly the disciples. But Jesus is who He is whether people recognize Him or not. And Jesus does what Jesus does whether people understand Him or not. That is His privilege in being God. However, Jesus is not a distant God who flaunts His power. Instead, He is compassionate and loving to use His power to provide for us in order that He may be glorified.
OPPORTUNITY: Follow Jesus in meeting the needs of others with the power of God leading the way.
1. Effective ministry involves everyone, not just for the leader.
2. Effective ministry is meeting a person’s needs at the right time in the right way.
3. Effective ministry means knowing Jesus not just being around Him.
4. Effective ministry requires trusting Jesus to do what only He can do.
Learn: Consider which principle is most important for your focus at this time in your life. Meditate and dwell on it for a couple of days.
Live: After reflecting on the one principle you chose, consider how you might put that principle into action.
Love: How might that principle become part of your everyday life as you love God and love others?
Lead: How might you help others instill a strong mindset based upon the principle you chose?