Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

11/23/14 Sermon - It's Been a Hard Day's Night

“It’s Been a Hard Day’s Night”

 

 

I have an interesting question for most of you.

 

Please raise your hand if you were alive 50 years ago?

 

Keep your hand raised if you can remember where you were and what you were doing in your life in March of 1964.

 

See if anyone is willing to share.

 

 Well this was the month and year the Beatles recorded not only the song “Hard Day’s Night” but a motion picture by the same name.

 

I have been reading the Scripture that Marvin read for us this morning all week. After reflecting on it, the title “Hard Day’s Night” came to my head. So I decided to search the internet to see where the lyrics originated.

 

While searching the internet I discovered the Beatles have a book with an intriguing title:

 

“The Beatles Bible – Not Quite as Popular as Jesus”

 

The title “A Hard Day's Night” had been coined by an exhausted Ringo Starr while in Paris in 1963, which they used during the filming session on March 19, 1964.

We went to do a job, and we'd worked all day and we happened to work all night. I came up still thinking it was day I suppose, and I said, 'It's been a hard day...' and I looked around and saw it was dark so I said, '...night!' So we came to A Hard Day's Night.

Ringo Starr, 1964

 

 

After reading verses 30-56 in chapter 6 of Mark, and realizing the events described occurred within a 24 hour period, I think you can agree with me, Ringo, put it perfectly. For Jesus and the disciples it had been a “Hard Day’s Night”.

 

So let’s look closer at a day in the life of Jesus and his disciples.

 

Previously in Mark 6 verses 1-30, we read that Jesus was on a mission. Jesus sent his disciples out to join Him in the mission and since we know the ending already, we know that this mission was a costly one. Last week we read how it cost John the Baptist his life, and by the end of the book of Mark it will cost Jesus the same, and eventually each of the disciples will become martyrs.

 

But in today’s Scripture we read of the disciples returning from being sent out two by two and the result of their mission was …

 

… more mission.

 

Again, we read in verses 31 and 32, the same dilemma they had before. They are so busy in their ministry they are not even able to eat! So Jesus tells his disciples to come with him to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they got in a boat and were off to a solitary place.

 

But…

….do see how that word sneaks in there!

 

It turns out the only time the disciples and Jesus had alone, was when they were in the boat. Because the people on the shore figure out where they are going and follow them there, by foot!

 

When the disciples and Jesus arrive we read in verse 34,

“When Jesus landed and saw the large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began to teach them many things.”

 

Did you notice? The disciples and their quiet, rest time with Jesus, gets trumped by the needy crowd. Ministry calls, and Jesus answers. Sure the disciples had legitimate needs, but Jesus surveys the situation and decides the crowd needs Him more.

 

That is the way it is with mission. The insiders sometimes miss out for the sake of the outsiders.

 

Mission requires the sacrifice of “self”. Sure, I have legitimate needs, but when it comes to following Jesus, those who are strong in Jesus are asked to make concessions for those who are not. It is an expectation, sometimes even a privilege for the mature in Christ to go without, for the sake of sharing the gospel and bringing the kingdom of God, here on earth to others.

 

Also note, how Jesus expressed His compassion. At this time He chose to “teach them”.

He feeds their intellect. He gives them the words and the guidance they need to open their hearts and minds to God in a way no one has taught them before. Do you wonder what Jesus is teaching? Although it doesn’t state specifically, I am sure Jesus is teaching the “truth”. Remember Jesus stated He was the way, the truth and the life. Jesus taught that truth matters, God matters, reality matters. It turns out Jesus keeps teaching them throughout the remainder of the day. Because eventually the disciples come up to Jesus and remind Him that dinner time was near and Jesus had better send the people off so they can go into the nearby villages and buy themselves something to eat.

 

Makes sense. It was noted that there were around 5,000 men hanging out, not to mention any wives or children. The disciples barely carried enough food to feed themselves, and practically speaking the only logical way to feed this many people was to let them go home or find their own meal.

 

Jesus’ response seemed rather unreasonable, at first. He responded by saying, “You give them something to eat.”

 

Okay, let’s look at this from the disciples’ perspective. Not only have they not been able to rest,

like Jesus had suggested,

they have not even had time to feed themselves, let alone, feed 5,000 or more people.

Do you think it may have crossed their minds that perhaps Jesus had gone crazy? This was surely an impossible request.

 

And yet, Jesus was fully prepared to enable the disciples to do what He had commanded them to do. Just as Hudson Taylor, a British Protestant missionary to China, in the late 1800’s, once said, “God’s work, done in God’s way, never lack God’s supply.”

 

If we look at the situation from the human view, we notice that it was clearly impossible. The disciples had only five loaves and two fish, lunch enough to barely feed a few of them. They would also have to come up with at least eight months wages to afford to purchase enough food for each person to have just a bite to eat. In other words……….Impossible!

 

It would take a miracle.

Bingo!

Just the thing Jesus was good at.

But I would like you to recognize just what kind of miracle this was.

This was not a miracle of generosity. Such as the disciples share their food which encouraged others to share their food, and then everyone shared their lunch and was fed.

 

It was also, not the miracle of being satisfied with just a little. Each person received a crumb and miraculously they were all content.

 

No, this was the miracle of multiplication.

 

Jesus blessed what the disciples had and there was an abundance of bread and fish to be given to the men and women and children. They ate in their groups until they were full and when they cleaned up, there were 12 basketfuls of left overs, and we read in verse 42, “They all ate and were satisfied.” That included Jesus and the disciples.

 

What was significant about this event?

 

By looking at it from the big picture perspective, we are reminded of Who? What? And Where?

 

Where were they? Well they were in the wilderness. There was another time when God’s people were in the wilderness and they were hungry, during the Exodus.  Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt and God provided them with manna and quail meat, daily.

 

Miracle!

 

Who were they? Remember, Jesus viewed this crowd as “sheep without a shepherd. This would have reminded the Jewish people of Moses when he said to the LORD, in Numbers 27:15-18,

 

May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’S people will not be like sheep without a shepherd. So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and your hand on him.”

 

And guess what?  ‘Jesus’ in Hebrew is……Joshua.

 

Here was the prophet, like Moses, who would speak the Word to them.

The one who would lead them.

And where exactly did Joshua lead the Hebrews?

Into battle!

Okay, so what if you were one of the disciples or Jewish men in this crowd of 5,000?

Can you get the picture?

What if Jesus was the new Joshua?

Out in the wilderness, Mark recorded there were 5,000 men with him.

Was this not just a “free” meal? Was it an opportunity to muster the troops, call these men up for a revolution?

With Jesus as the leader?

This thinking was perhaps not far from what some were thinking, because Mark records, in the next verse,

 

“Immediately, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to Bethsaida, while He dismissed the crowd.”

 

In the Gospel of John the dismissing of the crowd was recorded  like this:

John 6:14,15

After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

How frustrating it must have been for Jesus. He has been teaching and teaching what God is like, what the kingdom of God is like and it seems like no one was understanding? Everyone seemed to have a preconceived notion of what the Messiah was going to be like.

 

A conquering General, leading an army that will take control.

 

When Jesus knew that He came to be a suffering servant, leading peace and truth, through His blood, not the blood of the enemy. On the outside it looked like Jesus was at the top of His game, and yet, no one seemed to understand. The crowd was ready to make Him their leader in battle, and even those closest to Him, His disciples, hadn’t yet realized Jesus was not here as their freedom fighter, but was here to suffer and die for sin, and that would be what would truly set them free.

 

In the midst of this frustration, what does Jesus do?

 

He goes off to pray.

 

It is recorded three times in Mark that Jesus stops and prays.

Once, just after He started His ministry and everyone was looking for Him, in Mark 1:37

 

Once, just before He ends His ministry, in death, in the garden of Gethsamane, in Mark 14:35-39.

 

And here.

 

At each point there was a crisis.

At each point there was a moment of decision for Christ,

-       An opportunity for Jesus to seek God’s kingdom another way, except by His death

-       An opportunity for testing

-       An opportunity for temptation to cause Jesus to choose another way

Jesus’ response to these temptations was to fight with prayer.

 

As we continue to read on, Jesus was not the only one to be tested. The disciples were again, out in the water and not doing very well. They are not resting, they were being tested in the middle of the sea. The wind was against them. They were being forced to row against a strong wind and Jesus saw them, either by moonlight or lightening and goes to them by walking on the water.

Miraculous!

 

Skeptics of miracles have come up with the idea that Jesus was not actually walking on the water, but was walking along a sand bar that was conveniently placed and gave the illusion that he was walking on water. If that were the case, it would have been more miraculous for experienced sailors to be distressed in only a few inches of water, than by Jesus walking on the water.

 

According to Scripture, the disciples even thought it was impossible, because they were convinced He was a ghost and Jesus’ response gave the disciples a personal sign of just who Jesus was. Jesus immediately said to the disciples in verse 50,
“…..Take courage! It is I, Don’t be afraid.”

It is I, is the same form of words, YHWH, used in the Old Testament by the God of Israel when He revealed Himself to Moses.

“God said to Moses, “I AM who I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM’ has sent me to you.”  Exodus 3:14.

 

After this revelation and climbing into the boat, Mark recorded how the disciples responded,

 

“They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves. Their hearts were hardened.”

 

In other words, “they freaked out”.

 

They freak out because they just didn’t get it.

 

Do the disciples and Jesus finally get a break?

No.

This is where the “Hard day’s night” comes in. Ministering all day, staying up and rowing across the lake all night, we have a sleepless night for all, tired fisherman, who arrive at Genessaret, and what happens? More needy people flock to Jesus and His disciples. More ministry.

Such is the day in the life of Jesus and His ministry.

Definitely a Hard Day’s Night.

We have seen compassion

Popularity,

Two miracles.

That point to his compassion, one who feeds God’s people in the wilderness and lead’s God’s people and who reveals himself as the great “I AM”.

 

So, how does this all fit in my day in the life of Jesus? Or Your day in the life of Jesus?

 

As disciples, what can we learn from these stories?

 

First off, I think we need to begin looking at our lives as disciples from a heavenly point of view, rather than an earthly point of view.

The disciples are recorded as having hardened hearts. What does that mean? I think it meant they were focused on what their culture had taught them more than they were open to what Jesus had to teach them. The older we get the more we think we “Know it all.” We have our experiences and what we have learned by them and changing those or seeing those from a different perspective is not easily done. Especially those experiences we have attributed to God. Just think about it. Isn’t it stated that children are “impressionable”? They are that way because they have had viewer experiences to draw from. So the new experiences make an impression. I suspect that is why Jesus said, one needs to become like a child to enter the Kingdom of God. You see, God’s Kingdom is not like anything we have here on earth. God’s Kingdom is different. And in order to understand difference and accept difference we are going to have to open our mind and be open to change. We are going to have to see Jesus for who He is, not for who we think He should be. The Jewish people had memorized the Old Testament verses that told them about the Messiah, which was good, the problem was, they also had a preconceived notion of what the Messiah was going to be like and it was the preconceived notion that got in the way of them seeing Jesus for who He really was. 

 

Okay, so your next question should be, But how?

 

Easier said than done. As we read about the disciples in Mark we see they weren’t able to “get it” right away, and they lived with Jesus, for three years.

 

Although they didn’t always do it correctly, we read that they continued to follow Jesus. That should give us hope. Perfection is not required. Commitment is. The Bible says that we will be judged, not by what we do, but by the condition of our heart.

 

1 Corinthians 4:5

Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to the light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of human hearts.

 

In today’s Scripture we read that the disciples’ hearts were hardened. But they don’t remain that way. Eventually they get it. And so will we, if we remain faithful.

 

Also notice, Jesus and His disciples were called to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the gospel. Now there is a difference between “sacrifice” and “burn out” and it is important for us to recognize what that difference is. Just like the feeding of the 5,000, the disciples learned that what Jesus asked them to do, Jesus provided the means to do it. The disciples didn’t have to “burn themselves out” to feed the people. They had to follow Jesus’ instructions and Jesus provided. So often we think we are called to do something and instead of waiting on God to provide, we decide we are going to help God out, and we provide and we end up not only getting “burned out” but we also miss out on seeing God perform the miraculous, He doesn’t have to, because we have already done everything.

 

 

We are all on a spiritual journey. Some of us are further along than others, but regardless we are all on this journey together.

 

Let’s not rationalize the vision of Jesus walking on the water. Let’s see it for what it really is.

The Great I AM.

He is with us in the boat.

 

And finally, in the midst of all that goes on in our lives, let us follow the example Jesus gave – and not forget to pray.

 

Dear God -

 

May our hearts not be hardened. May we be open to what you are telling us, directing us, and giving us. Most of all let us be faithful in following you, regardless.

And while we are following you, let us allow you to provide the miracles. May we sacrifice what you ask of us, but not so much that we burn out and miss out on seeing you work in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

And most importantly of all, throughout every day in our lives, may we be certain, we pray.

 

In Jesus’ name,

AMEN