When it was late in the day, and the crowd of people listening to Jesus were hungry, Jesus’ disciples suggested Jesus send them away for dinner. This exchange followed, “But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?’” (Mark 6:37) Jesus multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed the crowd.
Later, Jesus sent the disciples across the Sea of Galilee, telling them he would meet them on the other side. “When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them …” (Mark 6:47–48)
One last boat story. Jesus and the disciples were again on the water. “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’” (Mark 4:37–38). Jesus woke, spoke, and calmed the storm.
In each of these miraculous episodes, I’d like for you to see the disciples’ response … because this type of response still plagues the church some 2,000 years later.
* “That will take eight months of a man’s wages!” When God asks us to do what seems impossible, we tend to look to our own resources—our intellect, charisma, money (our five loaves and two fish), rather than looking for divine help.
* “The disciples were straining at the oars … He was about to pass by them.” God will always pass by the self-sufficient. We tend to “power through” and strain at the oars in life. Jesus is glad to stop and help if we just ask.
* “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Y’all, Jesus was in that boat with them. He’s not going to let a boat he’s in, sink!
So, here are my thoughts. God has called us to be peacemakers—to “wage peace”—in a world that loves and thrives on conflict. First, that’s the boat Jesus is on, so we know it won’t sink. Let’s make sure we’re on it, too. It’s not a good idea to be at cross purposes with God!
Second, it won’t be easy. We are going against the waves and winds of our current society. We will have to strain at the oars—so we’re going to need divine help. Let’s cry out to God frequently. Which leads us to my last point.
You and I aren’t smart enough, well-spoken enough, or influential enough for this impossible task. Just like when Jesus told the disciples, “You feed them,” he’s given us the ministry of reconciliation. Let’s make sure we’re not relying on our own resources to do this.
Waging peace takes a lot of humility, prayer, and grace … often in short supply with us. But God’s got plenty to give if we’ll ask.
Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. and online. Visit www.newlifedenton.org for more information or www.drjimmann.com.