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Delayed service for the servants

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  • our society has very little tolerance for delay in service. We expect and demand immediate service.
    • stores open new checkout lines when too many people are standing in line
    • customers are encouraged to transact their business on the Internet so they don't have to stand in line.
    • Customer service specialists relgularly "apologize for the delay". Te expression is found 279,000 times on Google
  • Amazed at the line-ups at Tim Horton's. How long are you willing to wait in line for a coffee?
  • People wait outside stores for hours for Boxing Day sales. Sometimes all night.
  • So evidently many people are willing to wait for service, as long as we know that the people who are serving us are trying to do the best they can
  • I think we particularly frustrating when you see that staff are able to help, but don't do so. When you are waiting to be served for something really simple and you see several staff doing nothing
  • Slow service in Russian shops and offices - lineups are part of life. Things are often done very inefficiently - by hand. 2 1/2 day process to change the ownership of my vehicle - 14 steps, probably stood in line for a total of 12 hours.
  • but the most frustrating - When you have waited in line for hours, and when you finally get to the little window, and the staff person tells you that they can't help you or something isn't quite right with your documents or even worse, you are standing in the wrong line!
  • Does God believe in prompt customer service? Does he always meet our needs as quickly as possible?
    • wrong question - God does not serve us - we are His servants.
    • yes, but God is mighty and well able to provide for all our needs, answer our prayers, and heal all our diseases. So then why don't we see God responding promptly to our cries for help?
    • In the last while, our Ukraine field has lost 3 key missionary leaders with strategic ministries. All of them have had to resign due to cancer. Genna Friesen, Mark & Bonney Saucy, Kevin & Emma Barnhart.
    • In the last while, many of our top leaders have had real hassles with visas. Eventually the problems were resolved, but several of them spent months being restricted in their ministry due to delays in visas. Doesn't God know the strategic value of these guys and their ministries? Shouldn't these people be top priority for his intervention?
  • I think the disciples sometimes asked the very same questions of Jesus. Why the delays? Why don't you use your power to meet our needs? Why is your help not more prompt?
  • Three boat crossings with dialogue in Mark. Mark 4:35-41, Mark 6, Mark 8

First boat crossing - Sleeping on the job

  • Mark 4:35-41 - Jesus is asleep in the midst of the storm. The boat is about to sink and Jesus continues to sleep
  • when the disciples wake him and rebuke him for not caring, he takes charge
    • he rebukes the wind and the waves and calms the sea.
    • he rebukes the disciples for being afraid and not having any faith
  • This miracle demonstrates Jesus' power and authority over the forces of nature,
    • It demonstrates his ability and willingness to protect his disciples from danger. He does so effortlessly. All it takes is two words (in the Greek).
  • but this miracle also demonstrates that Jesus expected more from his disciples - that He was hoping to stretch their capacity to trust Him. He intentionally kept on sleeping rather than immediately responding to the crisis.

Second boat crossing - Consciously ignoring the problem

  • Mark 6:45-52 - Another storm, but apparently their lives were not in danger.
  • this time they have to wait even longer for relief. Jesus is not with them, and does nothing to help for many hours. Fourth watch - between 3:00 and 6:00 am. So they have been trying to row across the lake for at least 6 hours, maybe closer to 9 hours. Jesus sees them straining at the oars all night (Mk 6:48) before he goes out to them,
  • But what is most amazing, is that when he walks out to them, the text says he intended to pass by, rather than getting into the boat with them. Why??
    • Is he consciously ignoring their need? Is he trying to look the other way and pretend He hasn't seen the problem, so that He doesn't have to do something about it?
    • Obviously not - Jesus intended that His disciples see Him. He could have walked across the lake in a way that no one noticed Him at all.
    • So why does it say that He meant to pass by?
      • Is this the disciples' perspective? Did they feel that Jesus was trying to ignore them? If so, how did they know what Jesus was intending?
      • Or is Mark recording something of a deeper theological significance?
  • Several commentators have suggested that there is a parallel etween Jesus passing by and what happened with Moses in Ex. 33:19-22 when God passed by in front of Moses in Ex 33:12-23, while proclaiming His name in Moses' presence. I believe that Jesus was intending to pass by to assure them that He knew and cared about their troubles. But because the disciples are terrified rather than reassured, he abandons his original plan, climbs into the boat and calms the sea. Instead of catching a glimpse of God's presence in the midst of their problems, the disciples are fearful, amazed and clueless.
  • The disciples are completely amazed. Why? Mark says because they had not understood aobut the loaves. What do the loaves have to do with their amazement? What didn't they understand about the loaves?
    • the loaves - a reference to the feeding of the 5000 that just preceded this boat crossing (Mark 6:30-44)
    • Tim Geddert - "What causes the disciples' fear and amazement? Are they amazed that Jesus can do such amazing miracles - multiplying bread, walking on water? I don't think so. I think they are amazed that the great miracle-worker they have come to know would refuse to come rushing to his disciples' aid and smooth their path. They fail to see that in Jesus, their God, Yahweh, desired to pass by and speak out the divine nature in their presence so that they could be filled with courage and hope, even while battling wind and waves."
  • You see, Jesus did not either quickly respond to their needs at the feeding of the 5000.
    • the disciples were hungry at the beginning of the day (Mark 6:31). They were so busy in ministry that they had no time to eat. That is why they tried to escape to rest. But instead the crowd followed them, and the disciples had to wait all day until Jesus finished teaching, and then all the people had been fed before they were able to eat. The provision was abundant - a basket for each one of them - but they had to wait all day.
    • A short while later, in the feeding of the 4000, also recorded in Mark (Mk 8:1-10), Jesus does not do a miracle until the third day (Mk 8:1-3), and again the disciples do not get to eat until the people are satisfied.

Third crossing - Refusal of service

  • Mark 8:13-21 - no storm, but also no bread.
    • No visible miracle this time. No walking on the water, no calming of the waves.
    • But they had a need - they had no food, at least not enough to feed 13 hungry men. They had one loaf. Furthermore, the disciples knew that Jesus could multiply the one loaf they had with them in the boat, and maybe were expecting him to do so. Maybe someone had already approached Jesus about this possibility. It would be so nice to be able to enjoy a nice quiet picnic on the lake.
    • But Jesus wasn't doing any miracles today, and the disciples are left with no food. I am sure the disciples were likely puzzled by his refusal to do so, when he obviously had the power to do so.
    • But instead of meeting their immediate need, Jesus rebukes them for lack of understanding and hardened hearts and warns them about the yeast of the Pharisees.
    • Just before they got in the boat, the Pharisees asked for a sign and Jesus refused to give it.
  • Why does Jesus refuse to do a miracle for the Pharisees and now for the disciples?
    • I count 8 questions from Mk 8:17-21. What was the purpose of all Jesus' questions to the disciples?
    • Although they could remember the details about the feedings, they did not understand the meaning of these feedings. You see, Jesus had been trying to teach them an important lesson, and they were not getting it. So he tries again on this third boat crossing.
    • What was the lesson he was trying to teach them? I believe that Jesus was trying to help them see that although Jesus was more than able to provide for all their needs, his ability did not insulate them from suffering, nor did His provision come immediately upon them having a need.
    • There are no quick solutions on demand for Christ's followers. God is not at our beck and call to promptly answer all of our requests, and meet all of our needs, promptly like a genie out of a bottle. God sometimes does not give us what we think we need, and makes us wait, because He is much more concerned about the growth of our faith than about making sure we never experience the least discomfort. This was what Jesus was teaching the Pharisees, and had been trying to teach His disciples in each of the storms and the feedings of the crowd.
  • the yeast of the Pharisees refers to a wrong attitude toward the miraculous.  The Pharisees believed that Jesus must perform for them, rather than recognizing they are called to submit in faith to their Messiah. Jesus makes it clear that he does NOT do miracles on demand just to satisfy a desire to see the supernatural (Mk 8:11-12).   He is not in the business of putting on performances of power; he is in the business of making disciples of faith.
  • Were the disciples also unconsciously adopting this attitude that was so prevalent among the Pharisees? Apparently yes, because Jesus would not have warned them of this if there was no danger.    
  • And so Jesus refused to multiply the loaf and provide the picnic on the boat, because He believed it was more important that the disciples learn not to expect miracles on demand. Their growth in character was more important than taking care of a few stomach grumbles.


  • Was there a miracle on this third boat crossing, like on the other two? Not a visible one. But I am not sure that there wasn't a miracle. I believe that Jesus was intending that a miracle would happen. But it was a miracle that was going to happen in the hearts and minds of the disciples, not in their circumstances.
  • I believe the miracle that he was planning was the miracle of opening blind eyes and deaf ears for the disciples.
    • In these chapters in Mark, we find Jesus healing the deaf (Mk 7:31-37) and the blind (Mk 8:22-26), and here with his disciples, he wants to do that again. Jesus wants to heal the disciples' deafness and blindness to the meaning of the miracles (Mk 8:17-18).
    • He wants them to see spiritual realities rather than looking for quick fixes to every problem and discomfort. He wanted them to see that the Son of Man has not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). He wanted them to see that anyone who wanted to follow Him must deny himself, be willing to take up their cross and follow Jesus (Mark 8:34). This was not an easy road that He was calling them to walk. Suffering, perseverance, rejection were all a part of a disciple's journey, and He wanted His disciples to embrace that journey with open arms, rather than feeling that they had been abandoned or rejected by their Master.
  • We have an all-powerful, very loving Father in Heaven, who knows all our needs and all our wants. He is very able to instantly meet every one of those wants, needs, desires, whims, and dreams. But if He did so, we would not grow in our character. We would remain selfish, spoiled brats who would be unwilling to serve others. So like the disciples, God sometimes puts us on hold when we ask for service. Sometimes we even feel that He has said "no" to our requests. But it is not because He does not love us or care about our needs. He will not abandon us to our problems. In fact, like what happened with the disciples in the storm, God wants to reveal himself to us in the midst of our problems. He wants us to see Him and learn to trust Him, without demanding an instant reprieve from our troubles or solution for our problems. God loves us so much that He refuses to let us become spoiled brats, never giving us more troubles than what we can handle, but always seeking to stretch us in our faith, so that we can enjoy Him more fully.
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