Mark 6:30-44

Jesus Will Make A Difference

July 22, 2018

“We have nothing here but 5 loaves and 2 fish.”

The words still rang in Joshua’s mind as he remembered that day in that deserted place where he witnessed the power of God in a mighty way. Joshua, you see, had been a disciple of John the Baptist.  He had heard John preach – he had seen John baptize.  He had heard John preach powerfully the message of repentance.  He began following John because he was intrigued by this mighty man of God — but the more he followed John the more committed he became to John’s message.  He had even seen John baptize the man called Jesus — and had heard John proclaim that this was the Messiah.  Some of John’s disciples began following Jesus after this — but not Joshua.  He decided that he could serve God by continuing to follow John.   When John was arrested by Herod for preaching against Herod’s marriage to Herodias, Joshua stayed close to Herod’s palace — and would even slip in at night and talk to John.  But now — all that had changed. John was dead — killed to appease Herodias and Salome. Joshua couldn’t believe it.Such a great prophet killed — only to appease 2 wicked people. 

 

“Doesn’t God see and understand what’s going on?” He wondered. “How am I supposed to keep doing God’s work?” “I don’t have the abilities John had.  There is too much to do. Herod is too strong to be challenged.            If John couldn’t change things and make a difference — how am I supposed to?” Thoughts like these ran through Joshua’s mind over and over again.

            Joshua decided to go and find Jesus.  Someone had to tell Jesus what had happened to John.  And so — Joshua found Jesus — and told Him of John’s fate.   

            Maybe Joshua expected Jesus to do something.  Instead, Jesus went away. 

Joshua may have thought:  “O well, even Jesus can’t make a difference any more.”

            But — others continue to follow Jesus. Many others. A crowd of around 5,000 men — not to mention women and children. And — what does Jesus do? Does He say:  “Go away — I can’t make a difference any more.” No — He has compassion. He heals them. He talks to them. He tells them about the Kingdom of God. He shows them God’s will.

            Maybe He could make a difference, after all. Then — the most miraculous thing Joshua had ever seen take place happened.  It was getting late — and the people were getting hungry,  But — in this deserted place — what could they do?

“Feed them”  Jesus told His disciples. As you might expect, they respond:

“What?” “Us feed them?” “With what?” “We have nothing here

but 5 loaves and 2 fish.” “Surely that’s not enough to feed this crowd!”

            Joshua began to think: “What does Jesus expect?” “We can’t make a difference when the need is so large.” “First John dies – – then Jesus tells me to feed this crowd. I really don’t understand how I can help make a difference. The need is so great.”

As the disciples and Joshua object, Jesus calmly says: “Bring them to me.”      

            Joshua watched as Andrew brings to Jesus the 5 loaves and 2 fish they had found — and Jesus blessed them.   Then — they began passing out the pieces fish and  bread — and somehow the 5 loaves and 2 fish multiplied to become more and more and more — and the crowd of 5,000 men — not to mention women and children — are fed — and 12 baskets of leftovers are collected.

Joshua would never forget how Jesus took what they did have and used it to work a miracle.  He had thought they couldn’t make a difference. How wrong he had been.

            Have you ever felt like Joshua? Have you ever felt like you can’t make a difference? Like the disciples who knew they couldn’t make a difference — there were just too many folks to feed — and too little food to make a difference? Like Joshua — who felt inadequate to carry on the work of John?

            Ever felt overwhelmed by what you feel needs to be done — and you just can’t do it all — you just can’t make a difference?

            When you look at the needs that are all around you — in your family – the church – this community –the world — do you feel discouraged and feel that you can’t make a difference?

           

            Haven’t we all felt at one time or another — or possibly many times — that there is too much to be done — and too little time — or too little resources — to make a difference?

           

            Sure — we all know what it’s like to feel we can’t make a difference with all the needs we see all around us.

 

            Church members trying to make a difference in the community and the world — Parents trying to cope with raising children — Couples struggling to keep their marriage alive — Teens trying to cope with peer pressure — Business men and women trying to keep their businesses profitable –Retirees trying to make ends meet on a very small, but fixed income —         People with time to volunteer — and willing to volunteer to help others — but not sure exactly where to start — and not sure that their little efforts will help all that much, anyway — You can probably identify with at least one of the scenarios I just briefly described — or maybe several at the same time! We all know what it’s like to feel that we can’t make a difference. 

The problems are just too big. Our abilities are just too small.

            But wait.

            What is Jesus’ response to the disciples when they say they have only 5 loves and 2 fish? “Bring them to me.” That’s Jesus’ response to us, also.  Your church as you struggle to reach out and make a difference in the world with the love of God.

Your abilities as a parent. Your commitment to your marriage. Your commitment to doing the right things as a teen or as an adult — regardless of your occupation. Your commitment to the people you serve in your job. Your commitment to finding ways to use whatever time you have to help others.It may not seem like much – but Jesus says — “Bring them to me.”

            You may feel that it would take a miracle to make a difference in the world – in the community – in your work – in your marriage. 

            Well – you may be right. But – guess what? Jesus works miracles. It was not up to the disciples to work the miracle of feeding the hungry crowd. It was not up to Joshua to work the miracle of continuing the work of God in the world. It was up to Jesus.      All they had to do was bring what they had to Jesus – and let Jesus work the miracle.

            It’s not up to us to work the miracles of making a difference in the world – in our community – our family – that’s Jesus’ job. All we have to do is do what we can – give to Jesus what we can do – and let Jesus work the miracle. Just as He worked miracles with the 5 loaves and 2 fish — Jesus can work miracles with whatever we can do — and make it into more than enough.  Jesus can take whatever we can do to make a difference in the world — in our communities — in our families — in our marriages — in our schools — in our work  — and bless these things — so that we can indeed make a difference.   It’s not up to us to work the miracles that are needed in the world — in our communities — in our families — in our marriages — in our schools — in our work — it’s up to Jesus to work the miracles — it’s just up to us to do what we can — and let Jesus bless what we can do. 

            Do what you can — and let Jesus do the rest.

            But –do what you can. Now – there is the catch – isn’t it? What would have happened if the disciples had not obeyed Jesus – and not brought Him the 5 loaves and 2 fish? Without the 5 loaves and 2 fish — the 5,000 may not have been fed.  Without our doing what we can — nothing will get done. But when we do what we can — no matter how big or small it is — then Jesus can take it — and bless it — and make it multiply – and make a difference we may not be able to believe.

            Do what you can — and let Jesus do the rest. Do what you can – and let Jesus work the miracle. Do what you can – and let Jesus make the difference!

            You’ve all heard the story of the man waking along the beach – and seeing in the distance someone walking towards him.  He watched with great interest as this man coming towards him seemed to be stopping periodically – bending down – picking something up – and throwing it into the water.  As the man approaching him got closer he could see that he was picking up star fish ad throwing them into the water.  Now – there were many – it seemed like hundreds – of star fish on the shore.  The man asked this other man what he was doing. “I’m rescuing these star fish” was the reply. “But – there are so many” the man said –surely you can’t rescue all of them!” The other man stopped down – picked up a star fish – and threw it into the ocean. “I just saved that one.” was his reply.

Doing what we can – so Jesus can do what He can. Doing what we can – and letting Him work the miracle.  You do what you can – and Jesus will make the difference. That’s how God’s will gets done in the world – we do what we can – no matter what it might be – no matter how great or how small – then Jesus will make the difference. Jesus can bless what we can do. Do what you can — and let Jesus do the rest.

            No — we can’t do everything that needs to be done — but we can do what we can — do what we can to make a difference — even if it’s a small difference — and trust Jesus to bless it and work His miraculous power through it.

            When you feel like you can’t make a difference — just do what you can — and  Jesus bless what you can do. Just do what you can – and Jesus will make the difference. Amen.