Mark 8: 10-21
I came upon this passage this morning in reading, and rather took to it. The Lord Jesus was grieved because of the Pharisees. All of us may be in danger of becoming pharisaical, but it is striking to see that the Lord Jesus groaned. The Pharisees had the light, they had the truth, they had the scriptures; and had set themselves to protect them, and to preserve them, and to enforce them. That was their religion. They believed in spirits, they believed in angels, they believed in the resurrection; they had the light. Jesus has to do with them, and He groaned. And, changing His company for what has been called heaven’s aristocracy, He gets into a boat and departs. It says, interestingly - and I had not really noted it before, that they only had one loaf. We have all been impressed recently, I think, and the home-going of our sister has reinforced it, that we live - especially as we grow older - in circumstances of reduction. Our brother who spoke first has referred to it, circumstances of reduction. What a huge adjustment it is for someone who has been, we might say, at the hub of things, has been involved in travel and entertaining, and had a husband who has had a vital part in the testimony, suddenly to face a degree of isolation. And some here have experienced this, and have experienced too the humiliation of old age and faculties going. Suddenly something makes you think that you are short of a provision that you may have previously taken for granted. We should all be making provision; but we should all be valuing what we have in Christ, because whatever was lacking in the boat, He was in it. I like to think of our sister with her Saviour - whatever she had come to lack, He now makes up.
We need to be with Him in our circumstances. Scripture exhorts us: “who hath despised the day of small things?”, Zech 4: 10. You say you would like to have been at Pentecost, to experience growth and enlargement. Jesus says “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees”. How naturally we want to inflate things, but let us be in the boat. It is better to be in the boat with one loaf, so long as He is the loaf. He is our bread; He is the One who has come out of heaven to save us; and He is still our food where He is now in heaven. Let us feed on Him; let us partake of Him. We were reminded this week in our reading that the shepherd’s responsibility was primarily to provide food for his sheep; and the Lord Jesus was the great Shepherd who led His own out to find pasture. Our sister has passed through the valley of the shadow of death. Maybe she feared the evil; her mind troubled her. I have seen it in others. But, whatever we feel, we are in the boat with the One who has committed Himself to us, to take us to the other side. I do not want to be fanciful: the Lord Jesus here is in testimony; He is going to this place where there is a man who is blind. He seeks such. Oh, may we not be blinded; may we not fail to see the privilege and opportunity that we have to be in the boat, to be with the Man who makes everything possible. It says they had forgotten: how easily we forget! We have some enjoyment of divine things, and then we think we have no resource, we have forgotten; we have only one loaf and there are so many of us in this boat. We forget that the One we have with us in the boat is able to make things happen. “Nothing shall be impossible with God”, Luke 1: 37. Nothing is impossible in the hands of the Lord Jesus. He can take a few loaves of bread and turn them into a banquet, so that there are twelve baskets to carry away. I trust that, as we contemplate what He is, and what He was to our sister, we too will have something to carry away, a fragment. We may not be able to contain much, to carry much, but let us not forget that He is the One who has taken our sister to be with Himself, the One who has broken the power of death, and who with archangel’s shout and trump of God will cause her to live again. We give thanks to God for the life of our sister, and for the fact that she is now with Christ.
13th April 2012
(At the meeting for the burial of Mrs Ruth Burr)