COURAGE (naked runner/lesson 9)

PeterOnWater

The Gathering/ Pastor Barry  Gospel of Mark (memoirs of a naked runner)  Lesson 9

Courageous Stories Mark 6:30-32

Men love to tell of their stories of courage to other men.  It is in their DNA.  Rather it is the story about the giant fish they fought and caught (or got away), the hunting trip that landed the buck (or the one that got away) or the backpacking trip where they conquered that peak (or rested at the waterfall) or the rafting trip where they conquered the rapids (or flipped into the icy waters).  Men love to tell their stories of courage and it is as important to manhood as air is to breathing. Some may say that Jesus sent out the twelve and then the seventy two because he needed them to work the towns before he arrived, but God never needed anyone to accomplish anything that he willed.  He could make the rocks cry out if he wanted (Luke 19:40). No, Jesus sent those men out so that they would develop courage, confidence and faith.  Jesus sent those boys out to become men because Jesus wants men to lead.  In fact, the apostle Paul encouraged men in the leadership of the church to step up and “be courageous”(1 Corinthians 16:13).  The actual Greek translates that line as “act like men”. Christian men, we better buck up and teach our boys to be men because society sure wont and the best of mothers cannot. Godly men need to teach boys how to act like men and Jesus sets that example in this passage today.

The apostles were tired from their journeys in ministry but excited to tell Jesus all about their experiences. By this time Jesus was always surrounded with people and so they were hard pressed to get his full attention. They choose to engage their teacher’s responses rather than to eat and Jesus paid attention. He even pulled them away from the crowd so that they could continue their stories and be alone with him.  Are we involving our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews and neighbors in ministry?  Are we showing them how to serve and live like Jesus? Are we sending them out in mission? Are we listening to their    excited stories of courage and faith?  This is how disciples are made and if we want to pass the torch of our Christian faith this is how we do it.

Sheep Without A Shepherd Mark 6:33-36, Isaiah 53:6-7, Psalm 23:1-3

The people just wouldn’t leave Jesus alone! They ran on foot and got to the place where Jesus and his disciples were going ahead of them.  These people were excited too!  Excited to see Jesus and hear him teach.  The walkers were gawkers and naysayers and mockers, but the runners? They were seriously hungry for God and when Jesus saw them all out of breath and

waiting for him on the other side of the lake he had compassion on them.  He likened them to sheep without a shepherd and so he “fed” them with his teaching.

A domesticated sheep without a shepherd is a disaster and as dumb as dirt!  But a good shepherd loves his sheep and takes care of them. Then and only then can a flock be productive. Jesus refers to those that follow him as his sheep.  Isaiah 53 says that all of us have strayed like sheep but Jesus went like a lamb to the slaughter to pay our debt of sin.

Sheep are not courageous animals.  They are timid and weak, but a good shepherd is.  As a shepherd, David defended his sheep from both the lion and the bear (1 Samuel 17:34-35). In his Psalm he calls the Lord his shepherd (Psalm 23:1-3).  When we respond to Jesus as a sheep responds to his shepherd we are productive, but apart from him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Do you want to have a blessed and productive life?  Then stay close to the shepherd and follow his voice (John 10:26-28) anything else is simply a disaster!  Our faith must be in him alone . Our confidence is in following his lead.  Our courage comes from the journey we travel with him.

“You Give Them Something To Eat” Mark 6:35-44, Matthew 6:25-33

When Jesus finished feeding the people with the word of God it was time to give the disciples the task of physically feeding the impossible crowd.  They had cast out demons and healed in Jesus’ name but now the disciples would feed :5,000 men”(Women and children were also present; however, they were not traditionally counted in such calculations).  with five loaves of bread and two fish.  It was a lesson in courage, confidence and faith.

Do you believe: “I can do all things through Christ” (Philippians 4:13)?  Do you really believe that if you have the faith of a mustard seed you can move a mountain 17: 20)?  Jesus wants us to believe like this.  By the end of the day the disciples certainly did because they experienced it. What Jesus was essentially saying to his disciples through this miracle was: “you participate and I will provide.”  God said the same thing when he provided manna to the children of Israel as they journeyed through the wilderness (Exodus 16:4). Courage,  confidence and faith come only as we participate with Jesus.  We need to believe that where God guides he provides.  He satisfies all who come to him and there is plenty remaining besides (Mark 6:42-43).   Stop thinking in limitations.  He is a limitless God.  Simply “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). He is calling us to be his disciple so do what he says: “you give them something to eat!”

“Take Courage!” Mark 6:45-56, Matthew 14:22-36, James 1:1-8

After the feeding, Jesus sent his disciples off in a boat while he stayed back to dismiss the crowd and have some quiet time. Mark tells us that Jesus saw the disciples, from his vantage point , straining to get to the other side of the lake, but he didn’t go out to them right away (he waited until just before dawn).  As he was walking on the lake his intent was to even pass them by in their struggle.  Jesus knows that trial and testing is a good thing.  This  develops courage, confidence and faith (James 1:1-5), but when they cried out to him in terror he “immediately” responded.  “Take courage” he says, to us in our despair, “it is I”, and then he climbs into the boat (our situation). “Jesus is in the boat” when we cry out!  

Matthew adds that Peter asked to come to Jesus on the water and walked to him (for a moment) on faith, but when he looked at his situation he sank.  Like Peter, We doubt when we look anywhere but at Jesus.  Courage is keeping our mind and both eyes on the shepherd; however, crying out “Lord, save me” is a very wise plan B.  Let’s keep pressing on!

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