Archive for April, 2009


(Mark 6:30-40)

When the disciples had completed the mission of preaching, healing, and casting out demons, they returned to the One who had sent them out.  We read that the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus.  If we have been standing before the Lord while working, the Lord will draw us back to be alone with Him as quickly as possible before men can come in and break our communion with God.  Then the Lord can lift us up and encourage us if we have been broken down, or He can humble us and bring us back into the right attitude if there has been any tendency to self-exaltation.  He can put all things right and make us ready for another and better service.

The disciples, upon their return to Jesus, “told Him all things, whatsoever they had done and whatsoever they had taught,” in order that He might have the opportunity of correcting them and putting right everything concerning the things they had done and had spoken.  By confiding in Jesus, we can go from blessing to blessing, and not come to a point–as so often happens among Christians–when the Lord is obliged, because of our self-seeking, to stop the blessing, the fruits having gone beyond what the tree is able to bear.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile.”  It was now time to rest, and Jesus felt that it was time to have His disciples with Him, for there were so many people coming and going that they did not have any leisure time in which to eat.  They needed to be alone with Him.  And let us be very careful, if the Lord shows us in our daily work that it is His desire for us to be alone with Him, not to have this silent intercourse with Him shortened;  very careful, also, to see whether it is He who calls us away, or only man and seeming duty.

And they went away in the boat to a desert place apart.”  This was the Lord’s program.  The disciples needed to be alone, and He chose the other side of the lake, an uninhabited region, so that they had every chance, humanly speaking, to be alone.

But then the people came in:  “And the people saw them going, and many knew them, and they ran together there on foot from all the cities and outwent them.”  But behind the people was the living Father, who came in to change the program of the Son, so that the promise which He had laid before them–that they should have the Master for themselves–was not carried out but postponed.

When Jesus “came forth and saw a great multitude,” He got angry?  He was disappointed?  He called His disciples to go to the boat to move to another place, leaving the thousands of people?  No;  the Lord knew no such thing as disappointment…and still less, anger;  He knew only one thing–His Father’s heart:  “Well, Father, if Thou dost know they can bear it, the disciples will have their time when Thou art pleased.”  When He saw the multitude, He had compassion on them “because they were as sheep not having a shepherd;  and He began to teach them many things.”  He did not say, “Oh, I cannot preach to you now;  My disciples need rest.”  No;  He looked to His Father, just as He did when the afflicted woman and Jairus, the father of a dying child, stood before Him at the same time and He left Jairus in that dreadful moment because He discerned the hand of His Father in the woman’s need.

The day which the disciples had expected to be a quiet day with their God was fuller than any other day.  That is what I call a program open before God.  With our programs, let us be ready to let the Lord our God come in and change them as He pleases.

Finally the disciples came seeking their portion according to His promise, saying, “The place is desert, and the day is now far spent;  send (the people) away, that they may go into the country and villages round about and buy themselves somewhat to eat.”  I do not know whether their cry was really for the multitudes or whether they were weary and wished to be alone with their Lord, but the Lord was not yet too weary to bless and to help:  “He answered and said unto them, Give ye them to eat.”

They were to be blessed, not in the way they had expected, but in becoming in a new way a channel between the Lord and the multitudes, and in taking out of His mighty hand bread for the multitudes.  We never lose anything when we permit our God to change our programs.  Let them keep open that the Lord may take everything in His hand from morning until evening.

So we read further on that Jesus took the five loaves and the two fishes that were turned over to Him and, “looking up to Heaven, He blessed and He brake the loaves;  and He gave to the disciples to set before them;  and the two fishes divided He among them all.  And they all ate and were filled.”

How could this be?  I do not know, and you do not know, but we read that He is still able to do beyond what we are able to ask or think, when we leave our programs open before Him, conscious of our nothingness and His power.

At last the day ended, the passing hours filled in quite a different way from what the disciples had expected in the morning, and different from the way the Master Himself had led them to hope.  The Lord saw that the moment had come to send them before Him “unto the other side” of the lake.  Perhaps the disciples were tempted to say, “It is good to be here;  let us build tabernacles.”  “But He constrained His disciples to enter into the boat…while He (sent) the multitude away.”

They had been anxious to be alone with the Lord earlier in the day and had asked Him to send the multitude away, but He had said, “Give ye them to eat.”  Then at the end of the day He sent the disciples away before the other people;  instead of a day alone with Him, they were to have a lonely night on the sea without Him–a night that they would never forget.

Let us trust the Lord, our Shepherd, and He will strengthen our hearts that we may glorify Him by trust–by going on with Him through storm and tempest, through grief of heart, and through whatever experiences He may be pleased to lead us–in order that we may glorify the Father and that our life may be the place in which He may manifest Himself to others and make Himself to be known to the world.