The Most Challenging (and potentially offensive) Sermon You'll Ever Hear

In my last article I talked about the miracle of the loaves, here’s a recap...

In Mark 6 we see this progression...

  1. Jesus gives his disciples the power to heal people and cast out devils (he later gave that same power to the 72 other disciples)

  2. They come back to Jesus to report that it was working

  3. Because it’s working, thousands of people gather as they’re meeting

  4. Jesus preaches to them

  5. After he preaches, his disciples tell him to send the people away so they can go buy food

  6. Jesus says “you feed them"

  7. They say, "it'll take 6 months to make enough money to feed this many people."

  8. So Jesus feeds 5000 men with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread

  9. That same night the disciples get caught in a storm and are afraid for their lives

  10. Jesus sees them struggling and takes a walk ON the lake they’re afraid of

  11. We’re told he intended to pass by them (why? listen to last week’s message)

  12. They cry out to him, so he gets in their boat and calms the storm

  13. We're told they are afraid and their hearts are hard because they didn't understand the miracle of the loaves

What were they supposed to understand from the miracle of the loaves? I asked myself that question, here's what I came up with.

  1. Jesus can control the physical world, it responds to him.
    (He multiplied food and calmed a storm)

  2. He is Lord over all creation
  3. He expected his disciples to do the same (you feed them)

  4. In similar circumstances, when they couldn’t, he rebuked them for they unbelief

  5. When we can't do what he empowered us to do and expects us to do, he holds us responsible and he calls it unbelief

Examples of the Power of Unbelief

When Jesus went to his home town to preach and minister to people, he was amazed at their level of unbelief.

Mark 6:5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith (unbelief).

The Phrase "could not do" in verse 5 is the Greek word dunami, which means; "to be able to do something."

The Young's Literal Translation says, "he was not able to do any mighty work there."

"Hey Jesus, why didn’t you heal those people?" "I couldn’t, they didn’t believe.”

Ouch...

Here's another example of the power of unbelief.

Matthew 17: 14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” 17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” (speaking to his disciples) Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 20 He replied, “Because of your unbelief. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

“Hey Jesus, why couldn’t we heal the boy?" "Because of your unbelief.”

Double ouch...

That kind of scenario happens over and over, people are afraid or don’t operate in the power Jesus gave them and he holds them responsible due to their unbelief.

So what do we with that?

Side note; Some translations add "this kind comes out only by prayer and fasting even though most original manuscripts do not. Some charismatic folks have interpreted that to mean prayer and fasting gains you power of stronger demons. It's dangerous to base a doctrine on a contested passage but there is also no precedent anywhere in Jesus' teaching to suggest as much. There are, however, many places where Jesus holds people responsible for not having faith or belief. Belief is simply confidence in Jesus, it's his faith working in you, it's a reliance you have in his power in you rather than something you need to get more of.

Jesus puts the responsibility on the person being prayed for when they don't receive. Jesus also puts the responsibility on his followers when they can't heal a boy. That sounds like a contradiction but the truth is, they're both matters of unbelief.

So what do we do?

Jesus starts talking about a mustard seed when addressing the issue of unbelief in Matthew 17. The disciples should have some insight already because Jesus had recently taught on the mustard seed. I'm so glad Matthew wrote these things down so we can look at Jesus' responses and build a foundation to stand on, thank you Matthew.

Matthew 13:31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” 33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

His point? It's basically the parable of the sower, plant the word in your heart and let it grow. The receptiveness of your heart to God's logic determines the yield. 

So what is the mustard seed or yeast you mix into your heart? Is it a particular passage? What is it that you pray? What is it that you are supposed to understand from the miracle of the loaves?

The answer is in this last passage we’ll read today, see if you can catch it.

Mark 8:1 During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, 2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”

It's not a particular doctrine or formula, it's understanding the heart of Jesus toward people. Jesus is concerned for the people's well being. Read Mark 8:1-2 again. Can't you just feel the compassion oozing from Jesus toward the people? This is what we must understand from the miracle of the loaves, Jesus loves people and wants to provide for them.

He wants to provide food, he wants to provide wisdom, he wants to provide healing, he wants to provide freedom from sin, he wants to provide salvation, he wants to provide eternal life!!

Jesus simply wants the best for people, he doesn't want you struggling to feed yourself, he doesn't want you sick, he is concerned that life may become too much for you along your journey and he wants to help you.

Jesus is the bread of life and he wants to feed you, he's concerned that when you go back to live your life that you might collapse. Jesus cares for you and wants to provide for you in every way imaginable, it's just who he is!

This is what the disciples were supposed to understand from the miracle of the loaves, Jesus loves people and wants to help them. It's so simple it gets lost in our pursuit of doctrine and power. It gets lost by life's circumstances. It gets lost in the endless number of denominational differences within his body. While it should be plain and simple, Jesus cares for you and he wants to take care of you. You can have great faith in that!

I want to encourage you to watch the full sermon above for a more complete picture of God's heart toward you.

Clint Byars

Believer, Husband, Father