Pale Imitation

Ben Bateman

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Psalm 23

Ephesians 2:11-22

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taughtESV

What a strange opening for today’s lesson. Where have the apostles been, and what have they been doing? Perhaps more important, why did the people who set up the daily readings have us start in such a place? And while we’re asking questions, why are we skipping verses 33-52?

Chapter 6 opens with Jesus teaching in his home synagogue and being rejected. He then sends the Twelve out two by two to preach, heal, and drive out demons. That is followed by the execution of John the Baptist. The next passage we will look at below. It is followed by the Feeding of the Five Thousand and Jesus walking on water.


We are not going to look at any of those huge events.

Instead, we return to today’s reading.

“Now come along to some quiet place by yourselves, and rest for a little while,” said Jesus, for there were people coming and going incessantly so that they had not even time for mealsPhillips

Imagine being one of the Twelve. You have just returned from a week or so of doing the things you had watched Jesus do and you can’t wait to tell him about it. Remember returning from some trip excited to relate your experiences. That is what it was like for the Twelve.

But they were edged away from their Master by the crowds wanting him to heal them. Notice that Jesus said to the Twelve they needed rest. Naturally, he knew what they had done and how they felt about it. He too had done all that and more. It was exhausting. Even the Son of Man needed rest.

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary placeNIV 

Yet, the very next verse spoils that plan.

 But many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they hurried on foot from all the towns and arrived there ahead of themNET

Not only that, but…

When Jesus disembarked he saw the large crowd and his heart was touched with pity for them because they seemed to him like sheep without a shepherd. And he settled down to teach them about many thingsPhillips 

How distressing for the Twelve. Not only do they not get to tell all, they have to stand aside as Jesus does his thing.

What is the lesson for the Twelve?

Let’s say Jesus sent Simon and Judas together to wander the countryside and do good works. Upon returning, they are marginalized. Yet, in their time together, they should have learned to meet people’s needs when they need them met.

Jesus attempted to give his Twelve a chance to wind down, and they did for a time in the boat. But seeing the extent of the need of the crowd, Jesus gave in and feed them with the Word.

You and I need to learn when to respond and when to put off. Part of the ‘secret’ is to pay attention to the whole person, not just her words. Body language can tell us more than words do. We also need to know when to pass the person on to someone better qualified to meet that need. There is no substitute for listening. Sometimes that is enough.

We know that the big feed and walking on water comes next. Once Jesus calms the waters and gets into the boat—in the middle of the lake—they make it to shore where once again Jesus is besieged by people wanting to be healed.

And when they had crossed over to the other side of the lake, they landed at Gennesaret and tied up there. As soon as they came ashore, the people recognised Jesus and rushed all over the countryside and began to carry the sick around on their beds to wherever they heard that he was. Wherever he went, in villages or towns or farms, they laid down their sick right in the road-way and begged him that they might “just touch the edge of his cloak”. And all those who touched him were healedPhillips  

All were healed. No doubt, the Twelve had recovered their sense of where they fit in this ministry. Sure, they taught a hundred and healed a dozen, but Jesus….

That is an important lesson for all of us. We will never match what Jesus did and still does. We are and always will be pale imitations.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Stamped with the Promised Holy Spirit

Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay 

Amos 7:7-15

Psalm 85:8-13

Ephesians 1:3-14

Mark 6:14-29

Praise be to God for giving us through Christ every possible spiritual benefit as citizens of Heaven! Phillips We all too often forget that we are citizens of Heaven. We live in exile on earth, but our true home is Heaven/New Jerusalem. That privilege is only possible because the man, Jesus, willingly allowed himself to be executed so that he could face the Prince of Darkness and defeat him, and Death while he was at it.

For most of us Christians, making use of the spiritual benefits of Heaven is hit-and-miss. We are so embedded in the world that we lose sight of what is ours for the asking. But …

For consider what he has done—before the foundation of the world he chose us to become, in Christ, his holy and blameless children living within his constant carePhillips Even when we are lost and slip away, God is always there with us.

God chose us. We should never doubt it or take it for granted. However, we Christians are not as special as we often like to pretend. The truth is, God chose every human before the foundation of the world to become blameless children. Many have rejected His invitation of Heavenly citizenship. What will happen to them is up to God. Not us. If I sit at the Heavenly Banquet and see Hitler two seats over, I should Praise the power of God.

For consider what he has done—before the foundation of the world he chose us to become, in Christ, his holy and blameless children living within his constant carePhillips We can only be blameless by being inside the body of Yeshua the Messiah. His body is big enough for billions of people. And he wants us to join him.

It is through the Son, at the cost of his own blood, that we are redeemed, freely forgiven through that full and generous grace which has overflowed into our lives and opened our eyes to the truthPhillips The word redeemed needs a little definition. The Greek word here translated is apolutrosis, taken from the word apo, meaning off, and the word lutron, meaning loosen. The early church found this word fitting to describe how our sins are removed from us by the power of God. They are loosened off.

Don’t overlook the statement that our sins are freely forgiven.

 For God had allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: he purposes in his sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfilment in himPhillips We need to understand that God and His Son planned the creation of the universe as well as the creation of humans. The plan included the need for us to be saved from ourselves. We Christians need to get back to the Jewish understanding of Genesis. We have done the first chapters a great disservice. The creation of chapter one is not scientific, it is religious. It is about God and his Son.

And here is the staggering thing—that in all which will one day belong to him we have been promised a sharePhillips I like the staggering thing. It really is mind blowing that we should be given even a tiny bit of the glories of Heaven. It really is giving pearls to swine.

And after you gave your confidence to him you were, so to speak, stamped with the promised Holy Spirit as a guarantee of purchase, until the day when God completes the redemption of what he has paid for as his own; and that will again be to the praise of his gloryPhillips That is a guarantee that will hold up in any court.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence