New Testament in 6 months – day 30

30 Apr

Mark 6:30-7:13
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.” 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. 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. By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five–and two fish.” 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. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand. Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went–into villages, towns or countryside–they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.
The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were “unclean,” that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.) So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?” He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

Following on from comments I made a few days ago I want to look at how Jesus’ ministry gives us an example to live by in our own ministries.

We start with Jesus gathering the Apostles together after they had been sent out to preach the Good News. He tries to take them to a quiet pace but they are spotted and followed by a huge crowd. Then, after Jesus has walked on water to catch up with the boat carrying the 12, they arrive to find a crowd has already started to gather. And it gets to the point where the marketplaces where Jesus visits are filled with the sick. Everywhere Jesus goes the people go and they give Him things to do.
Now Jesus clearly had plans when he tried to take the 12 to a quiet place. Maybe a time of private teaching, a debrief after their exploits or even just a chance to relax after their exertions. Whatever the plans, they could not happen because the crowd followed. And Jesus’ reaction? He didn’t send them away, saying He wanted time with His friends, but miraculously fed them. And when Jesus came to the villages I am sure He had an idea of what He wanted to do, possibly wanting to preach at the synagogue amongst other things, but instead He was swamped by the crowds and those wanting to be healed. And Jesus served the people as He found them. He did not reject them, telling them the He had a strategy that He was working towards.

And it seems to me that this is very much the way any ministry should work. Of course, it is always good to have plans and strategies for what you believe God wants to do, but more important than that is the flexibility to respond to the needs of those you are serving and what God is doing with them.
One of the best examples, that I have seen, of this was at a recent Soul Survivor, in a main meeting, where Mike Pilavachi was supposed to be preaching but believed that God wanted to do something else. So he waited, and we waited. And what happened was an amazing outpouring of the Holy Spirit as people were blessed by God.
Being open to change by following God’s desires over our own plans is, in my opinion, a key aspect of a Godly ministry.

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