Reflections On “A Ransom For Many” — 7
“Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.’” (Mark 6:4) That was Jesus' response to the cynicism of those in Bethlehem.
They thought they knew Jesus well enough to dismiss his outlandish claims. After all, this was the boy that had grown up here. They knew him well enough. Or did they? Oftentimes it can be hardest to share the gospel with those who think they know us well. They have seen all sides of us, good and ugly, and by that they judge the message. But that isn't because the message is poor or lacking in strength. Merely, it is because perception of the messenger can often overcome the power of the message; this is something that is true of the world, but not of the Kingdom. In fact, Jesus was even amazed how little faith there was. There have only been a few times Jesus has been amazed: when the faith exceeds his expectations or when the lack of faith exceeds his expectations.
Such lack of faith meets with lack of power. If the people do not wish for God's power to reign, it will not. God does not wish to seat himself in a throne that does not welcome him after all. What king would?
Yet it is difficult to face this lack of faith, which is probably why Jesus sends the disciples out in pairs (Mark 6:7). In a pair, one can support the other and spur each other on in times of weakness. In a pair, when one needs encouragement another is there. If you've ever gone out to evangelise alone versus in a pair, you know how much the mere presence of another buffers your tenacity and your ability to withstand persecution and rejection. Evangelism becomes less of a personal matter when there are two messengers, and more about the message. God's end goal has always been for us to be each other’s strength as we work.
Even while he was on earth, when Jesus demonstrated great displays of power it was often with his disciples at hand. This is most true with the feeding of the 5,000 (Mark 6:30-44). A famous account if you've ever read the Bible, Jesus takes five loaves and two fish to multiply into enough to feed 5,000 with baskets remaining. The thing is, Jesus wasn’t the one who offered it to the people. Instead, the disciples were called to feed them. This echoes the relationship between God and us. We are to be His hands, the vessels through which His power works. God meets the needs of the people through us.
And afterwards, when Jesus left them to sail across the lake first, it was a nod to when he would rise up to the heavens awaiting the second coming. We will be alone in those situations, but his presence would continue to be with us. Yet when God comes, it is easy to be confused with something else at work. It is easy to be afraid of His power even when we have witnessed it. Fear after all, is what attempts to crack our faith. It is a constant feud, but like Peter we are called to take courage and not be ruled by fear but rather keep strength. We need to understand God's power as it works, because it is only then that we can truly allow it to work through us.
We are reminded that this is not our power that drives us forth. No, it is God's. Otherwise, we might become like Herod who while shaken by the message that has been brought (Mark 6:14-29), is so caught up in the idea of our own image and the opinions of the masses that we underplay God’s power and even work against it.
Jesus calls us to treat the ministry as our own, allowing his power to work through us to achieve the end goal. We are to work hard, but it is not our efforts that shine through but the divinity of God. Despite this, we need to manage our fear because it is easy for that to overwhelm and overcome our faith even having witnessed God's hand in the events of our lives.
As His messengers, we are to bring the healing and the satiety of needs to those who hunger for it. As for those who believe themselves full and in no need of what we have to offer, let us not throw pearls to swine (Matthew 7:6); rather, we are to devote more time and effort to those who accept it freely and eagerly.
Daniel is currently and forevermore will be a student and a learner, trying to delve into the deep conundrums of life and seeing where the path leads. He enjoys linking different things in life back to God through strange and seemingly random connections.