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When we read the Gospels, we typically focus on what Jesus says – his teachings and parables. Or on his miracles. These are both good. But it is good also to focus on what Jesus does – his behaviour, his actions – because it is in these that we see God in action. And these actions become an important example for our actions.
Mark 6 is particularly rich in Jesus’ actions, and today we focus on three extracts from this chapters:
verses 7-13, 30-34 and 53-56.
- v7. Jesus delegates authority to his disciples, drawing them in as partners in his ministry. This is not a dumping of tasks; instead, he gives them the same authority that he has, to cast out demons.
- v8-13, 30. Here we see Jesus training and instructing his disciples. He does not merely send them out – he teaches them. When they return from their mission, they gather excitedly around Jesus to tell him how things went, and you can see Jesus listening and encouraging them as they share.
- v31-32. Jesus sees that his disciples are tired and hungry, and that the excited crowds are giving them no time to rest. So he shows his care for them by inviting them to come away with him, by themselves, to rest. And they set off to an isolated spot.
- v34. People follow them in their droves and Jesus sees that they are like sheep without a shepherd, and again he care for them. He has ‘compassion’ on them, which means he ‘suffers with’ them. He felt their pain. And so he begins to teach them many things.
- v55-56. After the passage about the feeling of the 5000 and Jesus coming down the mountain to join his disciples in the boat during the storm, we read about Jesus healing many people. He continues to minister to them.
What do we learn from all this about how we should behave in the world as Christians. Five things:
- We need to see people – we need to look at them, notice them, see their hopes and fears, see their hunger and thirst. We cannot walk around with our eyes closed or directed to the heavens.
- We need to care for people – we need to have compassion with people, to suffer with people, to feel empathy with people. We cannot let our hearts become hard, even when it hurts to feel with others.
- We need to partner with people in the things we do in the world. We ought not work alone, but rather in partnerships and teams, where we give others a chance to grow and learn.
- We need to invest in other people, through training, mentoring and capacitating them. That investment reaps a return that can far exceed our expectations and can have rippled effects across the generations.
- And we need to minister to people, though teaching, feeding and healing. We need to be among those who help to meet the needs of people – education, food security and health are among the most basic needs of people, and yet often the most neglected.