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Sermon Summary • May 21, 2017

Sermon Summary from May 21, 2017
Mark 6:30-56 • Pastor Tim Tseng

When you are nudged by Jesus, say “yes!”

I. “You give them something to eat.” (Mark 6:37)

A large crowd of people had gathered around Jesus and his disciples. It was getting late and Jesus’ disciples wanted Jesus to send the people away so they could “go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” (36)

But Jesus nudged them: “you give them something to eat” (37)

“That would take more than half a year’s wages!” the disciples responded, “are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” (37)

This was a very practical and reasonable response, wouldn’t you say? It is indeed far too expensive to pay for all these people! There’s no money in the budget.

But, behind this reaction I also sense weariness. Maybe burn out? Let’s take a quick

IMG_0896In last week’s message, we learned that Jesus sent his disciples out two-by-two into different villages. He gave them authority to proclaim the good news, the power to heal and drive out impure spirits, heal (6:7, 12-13). When they returned, they gathered around and reported to Jesus what they had done. But so many people were there that they didn’t have a chance to eat. So Jesus encouraged them to go to a quite place to rest (30-31)

But gosh, darn-it!! The crowd saw them leave and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them (33). 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 (34).

Instead of eating and resting, Jesus and his disciples continued ministering to the crowd late into the evening. So it is completely understandable that Jesus’ hungry, tired disciples wanted to rest and eat and send away the crowd.

Yet, Jesus nudges them. Go feed them!

II. Please don’t nudge me!

Has Jesus ever nudged you? I know I have. It’s not fun to be the nudger. People don’t like to be nudged. Some people I’ve nudged resented it and hold grudges against me. Others have decided simply to ignore me. Nicer people usually give very reasonable explanations why they don’t want to be nudged. “We don’t have the resources to accomplish what you want. We are at max capability and can’t do any more!”

Indeed, life in the Bay Area creates a lot of resistance to being nudged, doesn’t it?

Isn’t this because we think we know better than Jesus what we must do in order to thrive here? I imagine many students thinking, “I must do well in my studies and requirements in order to get a good paying job and please my parents. I can’t go to Everglow Fellowship on Fridays. Many couples worry that if one of stops working, it wouldn’t take long before they’d have to cut back on vacations, eating out, shopping, maintaining the house. And yet when both work, and when there are children, most believe they don’t have time to serve others and do ministry. Parents are often overwhelmed with so many obligations. We have to take care of our kids, honor our parents and in-laws; we barely have time for each other! How can we go to a Sunday School class? Then there are many of us who simply feel inadequate or don’t care. Maybe we’re not interested in growing spiritually? Maybe other hobbies and social activities are more exciting? Maybe climbing our career ladders is more rewarding? Responding to Jesus’ nudging just doesn’t feel as rewarding – it’s more like a duty or obligation.

I especially can relate to the disciples – having responded to Jesus’ call to ministry and often times wanting to rest, Jesus nudges me: “Tim, there’s more to do!”

III. The Miracle of the Nudge

But thank goodness Jesus didn’t back down when his disciples gave their reasons to resist. He doubled down and nudged them further: “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” (38) They had five loaves of bread and two fish. And from these five loaves and two fish, Jesus provided a miracle! Everyone was satisfied – 5,000 men and their wives and kids. Twelve basketfuls of fish sandwiches were left over, one for each of the disciples (39-44).

There is so much that we can learn from this miracle, but let me just suggest three:

1. Jesus multiplies what we give 

No matter how maxed out we feel, no matter how worried we are about not having enough, Jesus will take what we give to him in faith and multiply it. Are we willing to give him what we have?

2. There will always be more than enough.

The disciples enjoyed a surplus of bread and fish. So, if we invest in a disciple-making group (or a small group that emphasizes making disciples), in the long run, we’ll experience more blessings than we give. A lonely person who decides to be a disciple-maker will gain the social skills to connect with people and make friends. Isn’t this a cool message? We may think we don’t have enough, but if we give Jesus what we have, we will always receive more than enough!

3. God will provide!

Jesus teaches us that God will ultimately provide and protect. After God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, God provided a ram. So Abraham called that place, Jehovah-jireh [i.e.,The Lord Will Provide]. “And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided” (Gen 22:14). The same can be seen in this chapter.

IV. Learn from the Nudge: Do not harden your heart.

But unfortunately, the disciples didn’t quite learn this lesson. After the feeding, Jesus sent his disciples in a boat to go to Bethsaida (45-46). That night, the boat was in the middle of the lake and strong wind came up against the boat. As the disciples strained at the oars, Jesus walked on water to them. We are told that the disciples cried out in terror because they thought he was a ghost. (47-50).

Jesus said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” and climbed into the boat. The wind died down. The disciples were completely amazed. Mark says that “they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” (51-52)

Invitation: Let us allow ourselves to be nudged by Jesus and your spiritual leaders. Great things can happen! Let us soften our hearts and understand the meaning of the loaves. The next time we sail against the wind in the boats of our lives, let’s recognize Jesus when he comes. Let’s have faith that he will multiply our efforts and provide more than we need.

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About Tim Tseng

I'm Pastor of English Ministry at Canaan Taiwanese Christian Church (San Jose, CA), independent scholar and theological educator.

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