“On Your Mark”
Surrendered to God (Chapter 6 Verses 30-44)
The debriefing session following the disciples first lone missionary endeavour (v30), is doubtless heard patiently by Jesus, with the interjection of correction and further instruction. The desire for quiet to confer together and rest after a busy time of ministry, is both an understandable and wise one (v31). To some Christians, relaxing seems to be a rather unspiritual thing to do, but it is not. Yes there are lots to be done, but there is a time simply to stop and take rest. There are times when we need to go to bed and sleep, not pray. But, it has to be said, these Christians are a minority group. There is not an abundance of folk willing to make sacrifices for the work of God today. They need their rest, bless them, to go without a little sleep or anything else would be just too much. In an address given to ministers and workers after his ninetieth birthday, George Mueller spoke thus of himself: “I was converted in November, 1825, but I only came into the full surrender of the heart four years later, July, 1829. The love of money was gone, the love of place was gone, the love of position was gone, the love of worldly pleasures and entertainments was gone. God, God alone became my portion. I found my all in him; I wanted nothing else. And by the grace of God this has remained, and has made me a happy man, an exceedingly happy man, and it led me to care only about the things of God. I ask affectionately, my beloved brethren, have you fully surrendered the heart to God, or is there this thing or that thing with which you are taken up with irrespective of God? I read a little of the Scriptures before, but preferred other books; but since that time the revelation he has made of himself has become unspeakably blessed to me, and I can say from my heart, God is an infinitely lovely being. Oh, be not satisfied until in your own inmost soul you can say, God is an infinitely lovely being”. God is looking for surrendered Christians today. Staying in Capernaum was not an option (v32), they would never have found peace there.
However, they were not to find it elsewhere (v33). The sight of all these people with no one to shepherd them, melts the Saviour’s heart. When Jesus looks upon these people he sees more than just a mass of folk, he sees their spiritual state, he sees their helplessness, their lost-ness, he sees individual men and women about to perish eternally unless someone ministers the word of God to them (v34). So he shepherds them. He provides them with spiritual food, he teaches them the word of God. He of all people realises that it is impossible for men and women to live on simply physical bread (Luke 4.4; Deuteronomy 8.3). When you think of how much money, time, effort, people put into looking after their bodily needs, and yet neglect their souls, who take no thought whatever for their spiritual well-being, it truly is an amazing blindness. It is a truth, prosperity inclines sensual people to a wretched neglect of God. These people were eager for ministry and had it. Today we have the ministry but people are not interested, totally indifferent to their greatest needs. But are Christians affected in this way too? Is this a reason why some are retarded? Because of a failure to cultivate a deeper desire for and knowledge of God (2Peter 1.2-8; 2Peter 3.18)? Should not we desire to press on to know him better (Philippians 3.10)?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)