Weekly Bible Reflection
Mark's Alternative Economy
Sixth Sunday after Trinity
Text: Mark 6. 30-34 & 53-end. "Under Pressure "
Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
What experience do you have of being under pressure to respond to demands made on you for your time and attention?
Do you find it difficult to take time out for yourself, for rest, recreation or reflection?
A Window on the Text
A characteristic of our times is that we seem to be under increasing pressure to meet the expectations of other people, particularly in Christian ministry
On completion of their first teaching and healing mission (Ch 6 v 7-13) the apostles meet with Jesus for a de-briefing session (v30). They are so pressed by the crowds that they have no opportunity to be alone together, let alone time to eat. Jesus, aware of their need for a break says that they must get away to a quiet place by themselves and have some rest (v31).
However, as they slip away they are spotted and the crowds, guessing their destination, race ahead of them and are waiting for them when they arrive! Whilst we might react with annoyance to having our plans thwarted, Jesus responds to the people with deep compassion, seeing them with the heart of the good shepherd (v34a). Compassion for others is a good motive for service, if our ministry is to be an extension of Jesus’ ministry but, like his disciples, our human strength and endurance are not inexhaustible. Jesus recognises our humanity.
The crowds are eager for more, so without hesitation he starts teaching them again (v35). The disciples, still hoping for a break and maybe with some impatience, point out that it is already late. They are in a remote spot and a long way from sources of food, and suggest that he sends the crowd away. However Jesus has a practical awareness of the needs of the crowd and the fact that nobody has had any food. The disciples are not prepared for what comes next (vv35-44).
Still there is no let-up! Jesus and the twelve cross the lake (vv53-56) and land at Gennessaret. As he gets out of the boat he is recognised, and once again the word gets around and he is besieged by the crowds wherever he goes. The pressure is relentless.
Responding as a community
Jesus’ response to the demands of the crowd was ‘compassion’. Do we sometimes give in to the demands of others on us, to avoid the feeling of ‘guilt’ if we do not?
- As a local Christian community, what could we do to lessen the pressure of expectation placed on certain individuals in our community?
- Should we feel so pressurised by demand that we don’t have a chance to rest, to reflect or even to eat? Should Christians always respond to demands on our time and attention? Are there any limits? Jesus felt compassion for the crowd. Is a response of annoyance always wrong? Should we seek to develop Jesus attitude of ‘compassion’ towards those who make demands of this kind upon us?
- Do you think that Jesus recognises our human limitations?
Light a candle and spend a few moments in silence
Read slowly: ‘Jesus says:
'Come to me all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ (Matthew 11.28-30)
‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as theworld gives do I give you; let not your hearts be troubled neither let them be afraid.’ (John 14.27)
Then spend 5 minutes in silent reflection on these promises.
Pray either in silence or mention by name those who we know who are under pressure.
Bring before God in silence our own felt pressures
Make us channels of your peace and grace,O Lord. Amen.
May the peace of God which passes all understanding
keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and the love of God
now and always.
Let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen.
- Accountability in Christian ministry. (Mark 6.30) The disciples had been sent out in pairs by Jesus on their first mission. This is the first time in Mark that the twelve are called ‘apostles’. They are sent out by Jesus. Here we see them debriefing after their mission. Accountability is a vital ingredient in any Christian ministry.
- Ministry under Pressure (see 2Cor 1vv 3 -11). Here see Paul’s experience of ministry under pressure and how he dealt with it.
- Jesus compassion towards the crowds. As the ‘good shepherd’ in contrast to the ‘bad shepherds of Israel’, the religious establishment (see Ezekiel 34) who looked after their own interests and that of the ruling powers.
Mark's Alternative Economy - Discussion