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Mark 117 - In a Rut

During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”

Mark 8:1-3[1]

Have you ever been in a rut? It’s a time in your life when it just seems that you do the same thing over and over and over. Day in and day out, you just keep doing the same things, repeating the same tasks, talking with the same people, wearing the same cloths.

Jesus and his disciples have been traveling around, being greeted by large crowds. This must have been overwhelming for a bunch of guys mostly from a small fishing village. And think of Jesus, who while he’s God, yet he’s fully man with all the limitations and frailties of a person. He was from a town that was known as the place not to be from.

So, when Jesus starts his public speaking and healing, it was the biggest shift in their lives that you could possibly imagine. All of a sudden, lots of people, lots of excitement, lots of demands, lots of pressure.

And not just once, but over and over. Wherever they went, large crows met them. Pressed in on them. Pulled on them for their time and attention. It got so bad at one point that they didn’t have time to eat[2].

I don’t care how busy you’ve been, you always, always, always have time to eat.

For me, eating is a time to get away from the pressures and demands of the day. But, for me, in addition to the eating, there is the preparation and cooking. It gives me something to do with my hands where I can see immediate benefits and results. And then there’s the clean-up, washing dishes and putting everything away.

While all three aspects are important, it’s a change of pace for me. But for these disciples, it was a totally new environment and experience, something that they had not been trained for. None of their seminary training had addressed this. They never attended an online seminar or went through a workbook on it. They hadn’t gone on a Zoom call to discuss, nor was there a YouTube video filled with tips on what to expect or do next.

Into this wild mixture were the crowds that had come from a long distance. When people are in an environment that they are not familiar with, and you mix it with unexpected crowds, it’s a formula for trouble.

Think about all the recent reports of people “going off the deep end” in grocery stores, airplanes, in schools. Stress and anxiety are at all time highs. Drug use, alcohol abuse, pornography, and domestic abuse cases have never been so great. Demand for mental health help is off the charts.

Imagine this wild combination and then add the pressures of long-distance travel. Everyone’s in unfamiliar territory, with unfamiliar people, in unfamiliar surroundings. Talk about a powder keg!

The crowd had traveled far to see Jesus. Which begs and question, what’s the longest distance that you’ve traveled to see someone?

I once flew from Philadelphia to Seattle to have a 30-minute meeting with someone. I also traveled from Phoenix to Hong Kong for a half-day demonstration.

But this was for work. Not to see someone like Jesus.

I once attended a week-long Bible conference and traveled from Baltimore to Washington DC every day for the evening sessions. But these people came a long distance to be with Jesus.

How far would you go to meet Jesus? To be with Jesus?

I think part of your answer depends on what you expect. Who do you think Jesus is? What do you think he would say? What would he do?

What’s your expectation of Jesus? Well, Jesus answers your question about how he views you and what we can expect from Jesus.

His view of the crowd is that he has compassion on them. His view of you is that he has compassion on you. His view of me is that he has compassion on me.

Jesus isn’t like that boss, that parent, that spouse, that friend, that child. We’ve all had someone like that in our life, they just expected more and more. Whatever you did, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t fast enough.

Jesus looks at the crowd and has this great feeling of compassion for them. He has tender mercies for the people who have been following him. This is the same feeling he has for all who follow him. When we follow him, he has compassion, tender mercies on us.

What a great way to get out of our rut. To receive the love God has for us.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Bible references are from the New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. [2] Mark 6:31

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