“And he called unto him the twelve and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits.”
“And they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.”
“And the Apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus and told him all things both what they had done and what they had taught.”
“And Jesus when he came out saw much people and was moved with compassion toward them because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent his disciples came unto him and said This is a desert place and now the time is far passed: Send them away that they may go into the country round about and into the villages and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.”
“He answered and said unto them Give ye them to eat.“
Mark 6:7,12-13, 30, 34-37a
In an earlier post The Power of Faith we looked at the unfathomable and unfailing faith that our Heavenly Father has in His Son. Adding to that now, Mark chapter 6 is a remarkable witness to the faith Jesus has in us. In order to get the most of this account we need to remember that Jesus’ entire ministry lasted just about 3 1/2 years. If we measure time by the number of chapters in the book (16) we’re just under one year into his time with the disciples. While he had accomplished much in that time, the disciples were still just witnesses to the work of the Son of God. They haven’t done anything yet themselves.
The chapter starts with Jesus returning home to “his own country.” Immediately his authority is questioned in the synagogue- he’s just a carpenter; a local boy, Joseph and Mary’s son. As a result, verses 5-6 tell us “And he could there do no mighty work (miracles) save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages teaching.” (emphasis mine). The scripture doesn’t say he would there do no might work (miracles) but that he could not. All he can continue with is to provide an education of the TRUTH. So what does he do? He appoints the twelve disciples to do the work for him. This in itself is a demonstration of his extended power and authority. “And he called unto him the twelve and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power (authority) over unclean spirits;” (v7); and belief in them.
What He could not do he gave them to do. They didn’t know it at the time but this would become a taster of the work that lay ahead of them “But ye shall receive power (miraculous power) after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). And the scripture says that they carried out the assignment as instructed. Imagine all that they had seen in a few months of watching Jesus he suddenly entrusts them. That’s quite a big ask of a few uneducated fishermen.
And as soon as they return to him he gives them a new task- feed FIVE THOUSAND people! HE BELIEVED IN THEM. So why couldn’t they step up to the job? This was something new. Something they hadn’t even seen him do before (feeding the four thousand comes in chapter 8). Let’s do some math; 5000 people divided by 12 disciples, that’s 417 each. Easy right? They’ve forgotten all the power he bestowed upon them. They’ve come back down to earth. Their measure is worldly and physical. Today we’d ask where we’re going to find the dinnerware for 5000 people let alone the food.
That night Jesus sends them away in the ships and later walks on the water to meet up with them. That’s a lot to take in in a day! They must have thought that they couldn’t take much more without their heads exploding.
And here comes the key:
“But when they saw him walking upon the sea they supposed it had been a spirit and cried out:
For they all saw him and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them and saith unto them ”Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.”
And he went up unto them into the ship and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure and wondered.
For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.” (emphasis mine) Mark 6:49-52
They considered not the miracles, for their hearts were hardened. Their focus shifted off the spiritual and back to the physical.
Doing the things they had seen Jesus do up until the time he sent them out by twos was acceptable in their spirit. But once they were given something beyond their mental comprehension their hearts were hardened. The spirit gave way to the flesh, to the worldview. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (Galatians 5:17)
Feeding five thousand was beyond their thinking and that hardened their hearts. How sweet are the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives us? How wonderful is the opportunity to serve our Lord in the Spirit?
We are a spiritual people. And in the spirit, Jesus says “MY FAITH in you is sufficient.” In the Spirit, he says that we will do all the things he did AND MORE. But only our spirit matched with His.
God has a call for all of us. Who knows it might be that you are to feed 5000. Or it might be something you think is small and insignificant (nothing is small and insignificant with God). Whatever it is if you believe in your spirit that you can do it YOU WILL! In the Spirit, Jesus believes in you. In the spirit, I believe in you.