Well here we are, we’re at the end of another week. It’s Palm Sunday in just a few days’ time and then we head into Holy Week. This is a really powerful time for us as a Church community. We’ll gather together to reflect on the Holy Week narrative and the passion of Christ. We’ll sing together, cry together, pause together and then finally rejoice and celebrate together as we gather on Easter Sunday. Today we’re going to talk a little about community actually. This is a reflection on the combination of passages we’ve had this week, but we’ll use verses from today’s passage, Mark 8:1-21 to help us.
In this passage we close the week with a similar story to that which opened the week. Jesus has arrived somewhere, a crowd has gathered to hear Him speak and after that rather than sending them away hungry He performs an incredible miracle and feeds them all. After the 4000 people have been fed, we read these words in verses 9-13:
About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.
Over this week we’ve seen Jesus in a rhythm of arriving somewhere, teaching for a short while, often performing miracles and then moving on. He doesn’t seem to stay anywhere for too long. There is a lot of ground to cover and not a long time to do it in. We see Him here questioned by some Pharisees. Now I’m sure there are a few motivations going on here. But in amongst them is the desire to see for themselves. Go on Jesus, we’ve heard you’ve performed miraculous things in other places, we want to see it for ourselves. We don’t care what you want to tell us, show us what those other people saw. Give us what they got. We want it all now, on our own terms.
I’m sure that Jesus had some parts of His message that He shared wherever He went. His love and kindness would certainly have been evident in every encounter. However if the Bible repeated everything He said to everyone then going through the Gospels in our Foundations podcast would take a lifetime, not a year. What it does record is the focus of His message in each place. Sometimes Jesus brings out parables, sometimes He quotes from the scriptures a lot. He knows what each of us need to hear, His awareness of the big picture and the individual details was perfect in each encounter. Here lies one of the wonderful things about community that the Pharisees missed. We all get a glimpse into who God is when we encounter Him. For the people in this week’s passage you can imagine the buzz around the whole area. Wasn’t it amazing when Jesus said this? That parable was so insightful. Did He tell you the one about such and such? No? Well this is what He said to us. What else did you learn from Him?
For us, we all have the Bible, we can all access everything that Jesus taught, but beyond that we all experience Him in different ways. In our community some will have incredible testimonies of healing and provision. Some will have had revelations of His love and grace. Others will have experienced God’s forgiveness and reconciliation. We all add to our community’s understanding of Jesus. Each of us has a story and are therefore part of His story, the story of God at work in His people. We are each needed in our community and when we make our stories known we add real value to the rich tapestry of how we, as a Church family, understand our creator and Heavenly Father.
This week let us be encouraged that we are part of God’s story. Each of us add real value to our community, STC. Let’s also be a people that recognises the value in what we can learn from those around us, young and old, and affirm in each other that we are all indeed needed and known in God’s Kingdom.
Father thank you for the passages that we have read this week. Thank you for the glimpse that we have been given into the earthly ministry of Jesus. Thank you for all that we have learnt of you and all there is still to have the joy of delving in to. Please be with us as we head into Holy Week, speak to us and affirm in us, Your Church that we are each needed and know. Amen.
READING: Mark 8:1-21
During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.’
His disciples answered, ‘But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?’
‘How many loaves do you have?’ Jesus asked.
‘Seven,’ they replied.
He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. The people ate and were satisfied. Afterwards the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, ‘Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.’ Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.
The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. ‘Be careful,’ Jesus warned them. ‘Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.’
They discussed this with one another and said, ‘It is because we have no bread.’
Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’
‘Twelve,’ they replied.
‘And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?’
They answered, ‘Seven.’
He said to them, ‘Do you still not understand?’