The finish line is the starting point / Mark 6:30-44 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday July 18th, 2021 / Season Of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Text: Mark 6:30-44
Theme: The finish line is the starting point
Intr – We were coming down the mountain after a few good hours with the Master. He had invited us, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” I have to say that was a much expected invitation by all of us, after all the coming and going, and having no spare time sometimes even to eat. How refreshing it was to have this moment with him. A jarring feeling of reassurance and comfort! So we went away in the boat to a desolate place by ourselves.
That took place after we returned from Jesus sending, two by two, and told Him all we had done and taught. I, Phillip, myself didn’t actually talk much, but I was happy to hear my fellow apostles telling many different stories. Some were encouraging, some were sad, like Peter telling when he actually had to shake the dust off of his feet, or John depicting the occasion where he preached to over five hundred people, and many were converted to the Gospel. And so on. There were so many colorful, inspiring stories; strengthening our faith and soothing our hearts.
Our resting, chatting time was great but now Jesus decided to go down the mountains with us. We had already seen the multitude of people who had followed us coming together. They ran on foot from all the towns and villages. Jesus wanted to meet them, be with them.
I was always impressed by his heart for people. It seemed that he was never tired of being with them, teaching and loving them.
As we were walking towards them, the Master approached me and fired off a question, “Where are we to buy bread so that these people might eat?”
That most certainly caught me off guard. I thought he was going to do the teaching, perhaps some healing, but then dismiss the people each to their own place. Seriously, I could tell it was not hundreds, but thousands that were gathering before us.
But that was it. He simply went ahead to be with the people, and we were left with that blazing question not just picking but piercing our brains. It seems like Jesus was really serious about feeding the multitude. What now? What should we do?
-Did you hear his question? – I asked Peter and John.
-Yes, we heard it – Peter said. But I still want to think I didn’t hear it...
- Oh no, He meant it – said Bartholomew. - He really meant it.
-Yeah - I said. He thinks we should feed all these people coming. We have but a few hours to find a solution, and I don’t even know where to start..
Pause in Phillip’s narrative.
Have you been there too? That time when you see a situation in your life where you have no clue on how to handle it? You have something whose future is uncertain in your hands, and the solution seems completely out of your reach? I’m pretty sure you have; me too. Perhaps not even just once.
There are times when God allows us to be in a situation where we don’t know how to begin to deal with things. Then we dread the moment of an impending choice or decision that has to be made. We start to make our brain work to find, or to fund, solutions. Where should we start?
Some of the apostles went to help Jesus in any need during the tending of the People while Peter, John, James and I conferred, trying to come up with something.
-Perhaps we could go into the nearby villages and find something? –was James’ attempt.
-That’s out of question, I said. Even if we split in groups, how could we find enough food? And if we could, how would we bring it there?
-Well, we need at least to try something – said Peter impulsively. We need to do something. Hey, Judas, would you come over here please?
Judas Iscariot came closer to us to weigh in the conversation. I assumed Peter wanted to assess our cash assets since Judas was in charge of the purse.
-Yes? – he said as he approached.
-How much do we have in the purse right now?
-Hum… I’m not totally sure… but I would say something in the ballpark of 400 denarii.
“Four hundred??”, I thought to myself. I’m pretty sure he mentioned 500 to me three days ago. And I was pretty sure we didn’t spend 100 denarii since then.” But I had to put my wonderings about Iscariot in the back burner for we had a more urgent problem burning our hands.
-We could go and see if each person or family can pitch in with something? – John’s suggestion cut the brief silence that had taken place.
-Yes, we might try that. I’m not too confident on that one, but we might try it.
Peter asked Andrew to lead that inquiry and he was more than happy to help.
-Still, I think we have to have a plan B up our sleeve.
-What if – Thomas threw out his hypothesis – He would be up to do something out of the ordinary here to feed all these people?
-Hum… I don’t know – I said – How much out of the ordinary one has to go to have food for thousands of hungry mouths?
-Well, I don’t know – Thomas returned – but, well, we saw Him healing plenty of people; He resurrected that Synagogue officer’s daughter. He even calmed the wind and the waves before our eyes. He might as well....
-You’re right on that – Peter returned – but I see this is a whole different matter.
-Yes, It is different, Thomas insisted, but our Master is the same, right?
- Are you trying to preach to the choir here, Thomas?
I intervened before Peter’s sanguinity could complicate the situation further.
-Guys, you both have good points. But still Jesus asked me that question. Why wouldn’t He just go ahead and perform a miracle again? Sounds like Peter might be right, it looks like he is not going to do a miracle today, but he wants us to show our readiness to serve and our ability to solve the problem.
-That’s a good point – commented John, who was silent for some time.
-Yes – Peter tried to be emphatic over his trembling voice – the matter is in our hands. We need to find a solution and show our faithfulness and trustworthiness to Him. We should be able to do this.
Again, that is so us. It’s the same Master. It’s the same Jesus of other times. When you were protected as you come and go; when you got healed; when you achieved your goals; when a great distress was overturned in extreme joy; when winds and waves of life were calmed down by His Word and presence.
Still, we often think it depends on us. We know Jesus takes care of things. But we still think we need to take care of them by ourselves. Or that we know how to help Him to take care of things.
It happened with the people of Israel too. In the OT we see so many situations in which over and over again they would ignore the Lord’s miraculous deeds of the past to rely on their own craft and wisdom, falling into idolatry, perverseness, bloody wars, and so on.
Still God was always merciful and forgiving, providing for His people, just as Jesus continued to show mercy and constancy to his disciples in face of their hesitation and doubt.
Where should their starting point be? Jesus will demonstrate that their starting point should have been at the finish line.
There we were. “When we came ashore, Jesus saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. As he was teaching and caring for them, it grew late.”
As time flew by we became more and more anxious. I would even say almost desperate. Andrew told us that all they could find was 5 loaves and 2 fish, which added up to our sense of impotence. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Over 5 thousand people and our numbers were 5 and 2. Frustration and deception weighed in our hearts. Jesus asked a straight forward question and we couldn’t provide a good and clear answer.
Finally, the only thing we were left with was to come to Him and say, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” I think I could even hear John saying “Please, Jesus”.
But Jesus had something different in mind. His answer shocked us “You give them something to eat.” That was the moment we were dreading all the afternoon long. But Peter had already a rehearsed answer that we thought could make us get away with it.
- Master, shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?”
That should have helped Jesus to make the decision we thought He would, and that we thought it was the most rational at the time.
Jesus kept on asking “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” That was another point where we thought we could change Jesus’ mind. We told him, “Five loaves, and two fish.” Jesus would then finally realize it was something impossible to be done at that time and would follow our rational advice.
Now thinking in hindsight I can only be ashamed of our pretension to give the Lord an advice that He would follow! That was our mistake, to offer our rational thoughts.
Can you relate to that? Handing God all the deck of cards and expect them to make the game go as we expected?
-Lord, you know how important I am, so heal my disease in the next two months and make me go back to daily life.
-Lord, you know how I need a house for my family, so please, provide me with a great deal in the next several weeks.
-Lord, you know that so and so is not a good person in this world, so just in case you wanted to know, I wouldn’t oppose if you decided to call him/her soon so that the world would be a better place to live.
_God, culture is changing rapidly and there are many threats to the church out there. Please, wipe out all our enemies so we can live in peace among each other inside our congregation’s nest.
Sometimes when we say we want to serve God, it means we want to help Him in an advisory capacity.
Still God is always merciful and forgiving, providing for His people, just as He provided for Israel; just as Jesus continued to show mercy and constancy to his disciples in face of their hesitation and doubt. Just as he is The Merciful and loving Shepherd of Psalm 23 to you and I, every day, in whom we shall not want.
We had seen healings. We’ve seen water into wine; we had seen even resurrection and control over the elements. We should see more though. We should see the Word of the master multiplying the opportunities of everyone being fed.
“Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to us to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all.”
As we started to distribute them to all, I was still divided. I truly wanted to believe in my Master, but I couldn’t just believe that we would come to the end of the masses. Five loaves and two fish? That was impossible.
And the impossible happened.
In astonishment, I would come back with my empty basket to the Lord and He would fill it again. And again. And again, for all of us twelve. People started to pass the bread and the fish on and there was no end to the amount of food that would come out of His hands.
The division of the people we made according to Jesus’ command made it easy for us to make a head count. Five thousand men! And adding up family members I can tell you that we fed at least 15,000 people that day. Five and Two to feed Five thousand. “And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish.”
Unbelievable! Yet I was there. I saw it. I took part in it. It is absolutely believable. Once more, Jesus surprised us. Not only with his heart for people, providing food for their soul but with His provision of food for their physical needs. Once more the Master taught one of the most precious lessons in faith: it was not in our minds, but in His hands.
God’s Word is the constant miracle happening in our lives multiplying his forgiveness and peace, because Jesus’ hands were nailed to his cross for our forgiveness, and came out of the tomb with those signs for our justification.
God’s presence in our life is the constant miracle in our lives, assuring us that no matter what will come, He always knows the steps of our way. He leads us; we will never be alone.
God’s Sacrament is the bread and wine multiplying forgiveness of sins and salvation in His blood and body which we receive from His hands.
“The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Five Two) shows the power of Jesus over all things. Nothing is impossible for Jesus, even multiplying food! When we believe in Jesus, He meets our needs.” Even when not everything that we think we need is something He will meet; for He knows it better, every time.
“Five and Two. Bring me what you have. How can we be generous when we don't even have enough? So, trust in Jesus and take what you have and put it in the hands of Jesus Christ. In his hands, the little becomes enough.” At every turn of our road, when Jesus acts in our life; whether in regular actions or with surprises too, if it is inside His will, remember: It’s the same God, the same Master. The same Saviour. He is the same I am, present in your being and in your life.
Cc – Still I, Phillip, couldn’t help but being impressed on that day. However, we learned once more: Our starting point should have been the finish line. Jesus. He is at the beginning and at the end of everything.
What would come next? Would he walk over the water, or make a tree die right before our eyes? Would He come back from the dead if He was killed by the religious Leaders?... We had been learning that he was the Son of Man, The promised Messiah; the King of Israel. Still we had those moments where our faith would need to walk the extra mile.
We still had so much to see; so much to learn; especially, so much to trust unconditionally in His hands.
 Romans 4:24-25
 Psalm 50:15
 Rev. Paulo Brum. Five two. Sermon for July 18th, 2021.
 Rev. Paulo Brum. Five two. Sermon for July 18th, 2021.