30 And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.
31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.
33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him.
34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. (Mk. 6:30-34)
The other day I read about someone who threw his daughter a 6 million dollar birthday party. That’s six million U.S. dollars. That man could afford to do that because he had the money. When you have tonnes of something, it means you can do many things with whatever you are full of.
In the world, money matters. But in the Kingdom of God, something else matters. The most important thing in the Kingdom of God is the grace of God.
I love the fact that when He was on earth, our Lord Jesus Christ was full of the grace of God. When it comes to the Kingdom of God, the most beautiful and the richest people in the Spirit are the people who have the grace of God in their hearts. What exactly does it mean to have the grace of God? It means to have a humble and broken spirit. If you can afford to have that kind of spirit, or heart, then you are the most fortunate person on earth. In God’s Kingdom there is no one as rich or as beautiful as a man or woman with a humble and broken spirit; a person, for example, who can say “Sorry” and mean it. Like King David, who immediately confessed, “I have sinned against the LORD” upon being confronted with his sin (1 Sam. 12:13).
Or someone who can truly forgive and forget. (One sure sign that you have not forgiven someone is when you find yourself bringing up the subject in your conversations with people).
The grace of God in our hearts enables us to do many things, all of them hinged on love. If we are truly born again, there are countless scenarios or areas where we can allow the grace of our Lord Jesus to shine through and affect people.
Jesus was full of the grace of God. In the scripture above, we see one aspect of the grace of God that He had. Here we find that our Lord would not think of Himself! He would not allow His heart to dwell on His needs. Instead, He saw and felt the needs of others. In this particular case, He saw deep into the hearts of the people who were expending so much energy and time to be near Him. The Bible says that He had compassion on them. And so our Lord forfeited His rest and instead, as Luke’s account says, He “received” the people. That means He welcomed them. He made them His guests – His welcome guests.
That is grace. Grace is seeing into another’s need. Grace is also forfeiting your rights and privileges in order that another might gain. Specifically, in this case, we see that our Lord welcomed and ministered to the people just when he needed to be resting.
When we have little or none of God’s grace we think only of ourselves. I have seen preachers who wouldn’t spare a minute for the very people they were preaching to. Immediately such a preacher ended his sermon he was packed into his private car or jet and off he went to his private hotel or wherever. His needs had to be met first.
But our Lord had a different heart. At whatever state He was in, our Lord was always ready and willing to welcome people to Him. Even Nicodemus visited the Lord at night, and the Lord received Him!
Let us consider another equally important aspect of God’s grace that we see Jesus manifesting here. Remember we are talking about the grace of God, not any old kind of grace. The world has its graces, too, but anything, however good, that does not originate with our Lord Jesus Christ is not of God, and it is of no consequence in the Spirit. There are, for example, extremely good people in this world, but if they do not confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives, then they simply have no eternal life in them and their goodness will do them little good.
In this regard, therefore, notice how Jesus saw the spiritual need of these people first and above anything else. Had these people come running after Jesus just to be fed with bread, Jesus would have dismissed them as quickly as He would later do with another group of ‘loaf-ers’ (Jn. 6:24-27).
But these people were hungry for something else and Jesus saw the spiritual void in their hearts. The Bible says He saw them “as sheep not having a shepherd”!
And so when the people came running to Him, the Bible says that Jesus sat down and taught the people. He became the Good Shepherd! Jesus did not rush to feed them bread first. On the contrary, He spent the entire day enriching their spirits by teaching them about the Kingdom of God. And they did not tire listening to Him! You cannot tire listening to a man who is full of the grace of God.
The spiritual need is the first need of the world. Indeed, it is the real need of the world, for in the final analysis every man shall die and stand before the judgement seat of God. When we have the grace of God as Jesus had we will first see the spiritual need of people and share with them the Good News of the Kingdom just as Jesus did here.
Finally, evening came and the people had nowhere to sleep nor any food to eat. Jesus decided to feed His tired and hungry listeners. Clearly, this was as an addendum here. God also cares about our physical needs, but our physical needs are not the life-threatening issues that many earth-bound preachers and believers want to make it out, which is a cover for the covetousness in their hearts.
Food and clothing are not our first order of business. God has promised to meet our material and physical needs and His Word is sufficient for us to believe in. In Hebrews 13:5-6 the Bible says:
“5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
And so on this day, Jesus decided to feed His guests. Now, when Jesus prepares a meal for His guests, He does not do things in a miserly way. He therefore did not feed them with popcorn or nuts. Instead, He fed them with fish and bread. Most of them probably hadn’t eaten bread or fish for a while. But, on that day, they ate fish until they could eat no more! When Jesus blesses, He blesses fully.
We ought to give of ourselves as our Lord did, for the grace to do all that Christ did here on earth is available to us today.
[Below: Waghill Hotel, the perfect place to relax in Mwanza City]
Photo courtesy: Carol Lanthier