Rediscovering Jesus - Too Much Information — A Christian Growth Message - Hope 103.2

Rediscovering Jesus – Too Much Information — A Christian Growth Message

A series looking at our Saviour through the book of Mark, by Simon Manchester of Hope 103.2's Christian Growth Podcast.

By Simon ManchesterSunday 21 May 2023Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterFaithReading Time: 1 minute

Subscribe to Christian Growth Podcast

Christian Growth with Simon Manchester podcast hero banner


Lord and Heavenly Father in whom is the fullness of light and wisdom. Enlighten our minds by your Holy Spirit and give us grace to receive your word with reverence and humility, without which no one can understand your truth. For Christ’s sake, amen.

Well, we’re journeying through the gospel of Mark on these Sunday mornings, and I’m so glad that so many have been coming week after week and have been getting the accumulated wisdom of Mark’s Gospel. And today we come to Chapter six, verse 45 to the end, and we come to the section of Jesus walking on the water.

And what my great hope this morning is that you’ll see very clearly this morning something remarkable in Jesus Christ.

He has tremendous patience, especially patience for the growth of his people.

It’s really quite wonderful to see you may, however, say at this point, that doesn’t greatly interest me because I am mature, you know, I’m now over 40/50 over 60. I am mature and I’m going well and I’m growing well and I’m smart, so all is well.

But I think this passage this morning teaches us that We are not natural growers, but he is a supernatural patient teacher. And I’m tempted at this point as we introduce the whole subject of patients to talk to you about some examples of great patients the patients of John Newton, the patients of William Wilberforce, the patients of Charles Simeon or the patients of people in the last 10 years or 10 weeks. But I’m keener for us to go and see what’s in these verses and see really what is more impressive even than those people and perhaps more meaningful as well.

So I want to remind you that Mark’s gospel is basically a sermon that is being preached. It’s like a divine tract, which God has arranged to be recorded through a servant, and it’s basically got two points. It’s a two point sermon. Who is Jesus Christ? Chapters 1 to 8. And then what did he come to do? Chapters 9 to 16, and we’re very much therefore still in the first half of trying to work out who Jesus Christ is, and we have seen, as we’ve been through the Gospel of Mark that he provides lots of words and lots of deeds to help us to come to a proper identity.

And we have observed that he himself causes the word to go out as he preaches. And he sent out his disciples to send the word as well. And we have seen him do many great miracles, not least last week, when we saw him feed the crowd, which must have been 5 to 10,000 people. And the expectation Listen carefully to this in the mind of Jesus. At the end of that feeding of the 5000 is that his disciples are coming to faith.

Hope 103.2 is proudly supported by

The way that he is thinking is that his disciples are coming to put their faith in him. I think it is safe to say that he now hopes that the disciples have begun to get it, that the lights are coming on, that they’re no longer just sort of friendly. You know, those people who are friendly around the church. But the faith has not really dawned.

They’re lovely to talk to, but the lights are not yet on. And I think he is expecting that his disciples and now being illuminated. Why do I think this? I’ll give you three reasons. One, the feeding Miracle was so plain and so clear and so obvious, I think he assumed that they got it the second in Chapter eight, Verse 21. He is obviously shocked that they have not worked out who he is when he says to them, Are you still blind? Are you still deaf? Do you not understand?

It seems to shock him, disappoint him. And the other reason that I think Jesus is pretty sure that his disciples have come to faith is that he’s about to do something on the water, which is to build on that faith.

He’s not planning to start their faith that he’s planning to increase it. And I want to think about these verses. Chapter 6 45 right through to 56 under two headings this morning. First of all, the desire of Jesus to build faith, the desire of Jesus to build faith. That’s the first few verses and then the second is the patience of Jesus with weak faith, the patience of Jesus with weak faith. So, first of all, the desire of Jesus to build faith. You see Verse 45 he gently dismisses the crowd, just as I was getting up as we are listening to this passage being read this morning, Kathy, my wife said to me, that itself is miraculous, that he could say to this massive crowd, please move away when they are so needy and they’re so demanding. That itself is miraculous. And he puts the disciples into their boat and he puts them, so to speak, on the water because he’s planning to do something with the disciples. What is he planning to do with the disciples? Will stay with me and you’ll see what he’s planning.

He’s on the land. He’s praying there on the lake. They’re struggling.

And at about the fourth Watch, which is between three and six. So sometime between three in the morning and six in the morning, he walks out to them on the lake. And we think, Well, he does this all the time. How many times does he actually walk on water in the New Testament? The answer is he does it once, and it comes after the feeding of the 5000 and it’s recorded in three of the Gospels. Matthew, Mark and John.

Is this a magic trick? Have you seen Dynamo the Magician walk on the Thames. I’ve seen it on television. This is not a piece of magic. Because the lake is under the effect of strong winds. There are big waves. This is miraculous. This is not ideal conditions onto which somebody either does or appears to walk quite gingerly. This is Jesus completely mastering a lake in the middle of a storm.

And why does he do this? He does this because if they have worked out that he is God. Thanks to the miracle of the feeding of the 5000, this miracle of walking on the water is going to make the point unmistakably and irresistibly and unstoppably. In other words, did you get the miracle of the feeding? Yep. Look at this. I’m walking on the water.

And in the Old Testament, it says that only God can handle the sea. So some 77 says you Oh, God, Go through the mighty waters. It’s an alien element to us. But to you you go through the mighty sea. Isaiah, 40. The Lord made a way through the sea. He did it, of course, at the Red Sea. And he does it through the Jordan to get them into the Promised land. And here he is, in command of the sea.

And most accurately, I guess, and significantly, it says in the book of Job. He alone, that is God alone treads on the waves of the sea. So Jesus comes to them like this, not because he’s coming to rescue them.

He would only need to speak to the sea, and he’s not coming as a kind of a piece of cheap exhibitionism. He always avoided that, but he is coming to show them unmistakably that he is God, who alone treads the waves.

And there is one phrase in Chapter six, Verse 48 which is, I think, full of real wonder. And that is the little phrase which says literally, he wanted to pass by. He wanted to pass by. Did you notice that it was as being read? Did it just go in one ear and out the other? He wanted to pass by. Yeah, he wanted to pass by.

It’s a very unusual phrase, isn’t it? He’s on the lake. Why would you want to pass by the disciples and the people who write books on the Gospels like Mark, come up with some incredible ideas for this one says that he was about to leave them because he wanted to test their faith.

Another commentator says it’s possible that he was fed up with them and was going to leave them completely. Another one says that it just looked from the boat as if he was passing by. But he wasn’t really passing by, and another one says he was racing them to the other side.

So what do you make of this? Actually, the phrase passed by has its roots in the Old Testament, and those who have been reading their Old Testament like the disciples would have been might have remembered this very, very significant phrase because the little phrase passed by is what God did to Moses.

You may remember that in the Book of Exodus, the people had just been given the commandments, and Moses was up the mountain, getting the tablets with the commandments on them. And while he’s away up the mountain, the people of Israel decide that for their foolishness they will create a golden calf, and that will be the focus of their worship and this kind of idolatry. Even on the honeymoon cause is righteous anger from God, and Moses comes down the mountain sharing some of that anger, and he breaks the tablets and he gets the golden Carpani, grinds it to powder, and he makes them drink it.

And then it is as if Moses gets on his knees and he says, Well, we’re finished. You know, this was such a great covenant, and we have utterly, utterly broken the covenant. And God says to Moses, Come up the mountain the next morning and I will pass by and Moses goes back up the mountain and we read in Exodus 34 that the Lord passed by. In other words, he displayed himself and he declared himself. He said, The Lord, the Lord gracious, merciful, slow to anger, full of compassion.

And Moses, we read, bow down and worship because he realised that in the character of God was a solution to the problem. And then the phrase comes up again in the life of Elijah Moses Elijah, where Elijah is absolutely terrified because this wicked queen, Jezebel has said that she’s going to kill him within 24 hours and he runs out of the promised land. He goes all the way south out of the promised land. And he goes to the very cave where Moses had been hidden in the Rock.

And he basically says, You know, I’m desperate And the Lord, recognising what Elijah is asking for, passes by and he shows his power, his earthquake, wind and fire. And then he puts Elijah so to speak, back on the path for his ministry and his mission. And in both of these situations with Moses and Elijah, you’ve got this absolute despair and God graciously passing by and revealing what he is really like. Now, when we get to Mark Chapter six and the phrase comes up again, do you notice that God does not pass by Jesus?

It’s as though God looks down and says, You know, Jesus is having a really difficult time. I’m going to pass by and encourage him. Know Jesus passes by the disciples or he goes to. He plans to. He wants to, and he wants to, because he wants to lift their faith. He wants to build their faith. And so what is this passing by phrase? It’s showing character. It’s displaying, unfolding, exhibiting more of the Majesty. More of the sufficiency. More of the perfection if they’ve got the meeting, the feeding miracle and if they’ve got the walking on the water. Miracle. This is God, This is God. It’s now the desire of Jesus to build their faith and reveal his glory to them. But they can’t cope.

They cannot cope. They don’t have faith. They don’t really get who he is. They can’t really take what he’s doing. And we read in Verse 49. They are afraid. They’re not people of faith there, people of fear. They thought he was a ghost. They call out in terror. We read in verse 50. They are literally shaken or confused. And so what’s Jesus going to do since he desires to show them his glory? Is he going to steamroll their weak faith and make it happen anyway? He’s certainly got the power to do that, and he’s got the desire to do that. But he doesn’t do that. He changes his whole approach because they’re so frail.

He just shuts it all down. And this brings us to our second point this morning, which is the patience of Jesus with weak faith. We’ve seen the desire of Jesus to build faith and now the patience of Jesus with weak faith from Verse 50.

And I really love to look at this, and I love it. If you look at this and see that he’s not only patient with his disciples, but he’s also a patient with the unbelievers and it’s there. We see something of his greatness, and it’s a lesson that we need to learn for ourselves. And it’s also a grace that we need to have developed in us as well.

People are slow learners, aren’t they? I was reading this week that Muriel Fromberg from the United Kingdom has decided to stop smoking, and she’s decided to stop smoking because she wants a long life and she wants to see her great great grandchildren grow up. She’s been on 40 cigarettes a day at the age of 102. She’s decided to stop smoking.

She has absorbed 1.3 million cigarettes. She’s now 107 and feeling well, It’s got to be a lesson in there somewhere, hasn’t there? There is a little break through the slow learner Luke Short, who I’ve mentioned to you before who lived in the 17th century 18th century, 17 18th century. He was 100 years old when he became a Christian.

He was sitting in a field under a hedge at the age of 100 and he remembered a sermon that had been preached by the great Puritan John Flavell.

And he especially remembered that at the end of the service, Flavell had got up and said to the congregation, It’s now time to be dismissed. But how can I do it when so many of you are moving on to hell?

And that sentence stayed in Luke shorts mind for 85 years and 85 years later, having heard that as a 15 year old boy, the penny dropped and he put his trust in Jesus Christ. I understand he was given 15 or 16 more years of life which were very active in the Lord’s service, warning people not to wait too long like he had, and on his gravestone, it said something like Born and then that was the year and then reborn at the age of 100.

Now we don’t know everything ourselves, do we? Did you know that there are more tigers in America than any country in the world. Did you know that there is a rock in Western Australia which is 2.5 times the size of Ayers Rock?

Did you know that neither the bagpipes nor haggis nor tartan or kilts have their origin? In Scotland?

We don’t know everything. We don’t know everything. And in spiritual matters, we are particularly slow. There is something about our hearts which just doesn’t naturally go to spiritual things. It’s a work of grace, and I want you to see how Jesus deals not only with the disciples but also with the unbelievers with very great patience. And you’ll see, I hope the implication of this for you. I hope that you’ll go out this morning and you’ll be remembering that he has been very patient with you and continues to be very patient. And I’m hoping that something of his grace by the spirit of God, will be in and through you.

But look at verse 50. Everything that Jesus hoped would happen on the lake has fallen apart. He wanted to build their faith. They, however, are full of fear and unbelief. And so he quickly says to them, putting the whole plan away. Be comforted.

It is me, literally. I am. And then he says to them, Do not be frightened. Very, very gracious. Then what does he do? He gets into the boat.

He stops the miracle that is frightening them, which is walking on the water. He puts away any idea that he’s going to reveal more of himself more of his glory. He stops the wind because that will help them to remember who he is.

And then what does he do? Well, if you were to read chapter seven and eight, you would realise that Jesus now goes on a much longer journey with these disciples to get them to the point where they will eventually be able to believe he is so patient. He takes them on a much, much longer journey. You see, in verse 45 he planned to go to Bethsaida. Well, they have not ended up in Bethsaida. They’ve obviously been thrown off course Verse 53. There now in Guinness Sarette, which she is a pagan part of the world. And so what does Jesus do from Verse 53 More miracles, patient patient miracles. Then Chapter seven more teaching, then more miracles, including healing a deaf man so that they will know that they need to be given hearing. And then he does another feeding, as if to underline and say, Can you get this? And then he heals a blind man as if to say, You can’t see yet, can you?

And then eventually, Chapter eight, Verse 22 he gets to Bethsaida where he planned to go all along, and then eventually comes the question. Who am I? And Peter says with faith, you are the Christ. So he changes his programme for the weakness of the disciples.

He is also very patient with the unbelievers. I mean, it’s painful enough that the disciples are confused. It’s painful enough that the disciples have hard hearts. He always expected his enemies to have hard hearts. What’s it like when you’re working with your disciples? You’ve got hard hearts, but look at what he does with the unbelievers. Verse 54 they are. They are sheer consumers. These crowds and all they want from Jesus is that he will fix their problems immediately, and he does.

And I think this experience on the lake must have been a massive disappointment for Jesus. And yet, far from being grumpy or resentful or isolating himself immediately, there’s a queue of people in front of him. They have no interest in his honour. They have no interest in worshipping him. They are just there because of their aches and pains. And they’re massively disappointed. He is massively generous towards them and he stoops down to their demands and he heals the sick. And he makes concession even to their superstition as they touch the garment.

This is the Lord Jesus, isn’t it? Gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, full of compassion, full of patients the rich who became poor so that we, the poor, might become rich stooping down to us.

I find this very moving. I find it moving the way he deals with these unbelievers and these disciples and the way he deals with the unbelievers today, you know, you think of the way the Lord Jesus provides for the people of this city. This country, you think of what they have been given relative to this world.

And yet this this hostility, this this anger, resentment, avoidance, unbelief and think of his patients even to some in churches who are not yet believers.

I need to say this to you because I never really know who’s here, but it’s possible that you’re here in the building, which is wonderful, and we love it that you come. But it’s possible that your life has a small L and that you’re living on your own batteries. And soon those batteries are going to come to an end and you’ll suddenly find yourself face to face with the judge of all the world. And you will be given the sentence of separation.

Not because you’re not a good person. You’re probably better than many of us.

But no relationship has yet begun with Jesus the Saviour. If I might use this as a corny illustration, you have not yet taken that power cord, which is hanging off. You called make a decision and pushed it into the grace of Christ and said, I want to belong. I need to belong.

You’re going to run out of batteries. Unless in the time you’ve been given you join yourself by faith to Christ, Who gives you this very wonderful invitation?

We also need to be patient with unbelievers. Don’t we as we wait for Children to believe as we wait for parents to believe. We’ve been reminded of this this morning, haven’t we?

As we wait for friends, some people, you know, come to Christian explained 123 times without believing. And then they believe through something else. You need to be so patient. You feel as though at the end of Christian explained, you’ve said everything you could possibly say as kindly as you could say it as clearly as you could say it. And the absolute lights are off.

We need to be patient, don’t we? With people that we’re talking to, we need to have very patient conversations with them. It’s no point trying to force or berate a person or insult them just to gently persuading. This is not my nature. I don’t know if it’s yours.

But I was sitting with an old man this week, 88 years old. He’s resisting Christ right to the end. Even as he runs out of batteries, he’s resisting Christ right to the end. I’ve said everything that I can think of. I’ve read every passage. I’ve prayed every prayer. It takes great patience and then consider how patient Jesus is with the disciples because, as he was with his 12, So he is with disciples like us.

And I wonder as you reflect on your own journey, whether you could say that you have probably lost a lot of blessing and insight and progress and growth through either fear or unbelief or hardness. How much have we missed by being stubborn?

How much have we lost by being resistant and how carefully he has led us, how patient he’s been with us, how many times he has forgiven us how many times he carefully taught that same lesson again. How many times have you found yourself just learning again, repent or believe or trust or obey? And he patiently brings these things back to us. Now I wonder whether some here this morning a conscious that they are really in spiritual primary school, and some of you are because of either an inability or an unwillingness to grow how much has had to be put away because there’s no reception, there’s no humility, and the journey is being drawn out lengthily and painfully.

There is this great heart you see of Jesus face to face with the small hearts of people like us. So we need his patients. If we’re going to relate to one another and care for one another, we need. We need the patience of the Lord Jesus in our ministry, Paul says. The minister, the pastor, has to be very patient. Two. Timothy, Chapter two, the Lord’s Servant must not quarrel. Instead, he must be kind to everyone able to teach, not resentful those who oppose him, he must gently instruct in the hope that God will grant them repentance, leading them to a knowledge of the truth. You would think, wouldn’t you?

That if you’ve got real troublemakers in the church, you should bring in the evangelical Clint Eastwood, who will just blow every difficult person out of the water and Paul says no, it’s the gentle person who will make the most progress. Some of our Sunday school teachers need great patience as they deal with the Children of this church who have been raised to know so much.

And yet, as one of them said recently, they don’t seem yet to know the Lord they need great patients are youth leaders need great patients. Youth have got a whole range of weirdness, haven’t they? Think back to your own youth.

The small group leaders need to have a great deal of patients. You watch your members, they come sporadically. They’re not really preparing. Perhaps they drift. They make silly decisions. You have to be so patient.

And those parents who are waiting for your Children to believe those spouses. You’re waiting for your husband or your wife to know Christ the pastor who’s waiting for blind people to see immature people to grow worldly people to get free of their idols. Spectators around the church to become soldiers, proud people to start trembling at the word of God and fearful people in the church to start being liberated and joyful.

I rang one of my friends yesterday, who is a pastor in another diocese. Didn’t realise it would be suitable for this particular sermon, but I was ringing him. His name is Dan. He’s not in the Sydney diocese, and I asked him how things were going. He says, You know, I’ve got five centres, there’s very few at each of those centres and yet they don’t want to get together, even though we could all just meet in one good centre. He’s got five Children.

None of them have Christian friends.

He’s got a few dollars because the numbers don’t really provide properly the diocese that he’s part of his bankrupt, he says. I’ve got one key couple who I’m very thankful for. Most of the people he says, don’t really want me to be here, and they don’t really want the Gospel. But the whole way in which he spoke was so patient and so persevering and so thankful that the door has opened for him to be there. And the obvious thing, of course, is to pray that he would be patient and persevere and not give up, and that people would come to believe. So this is my hope, as we think of this section of Jesus on the water wanting to give so much more. And yet finding the disciples are just not ready, able or willing and being so gracious, persevering with them, even with the unbelievers whose agenda is totally different from his own. And I hope that there will be some of you who will go from this place this morning and you’ll say I couldn’t be more thankful for the way the Lord Jesus has patiently put up with me. And now I’m asking that he will give me more of his patients in the way that I deal with loved ones and believers in order that I might display something of his character in me.

Let’s pray for that

Our gracious God, we thank you for your great patience and kindness, which we see supremely in the crucifixion of your Son. We thank you for your patience with us as believers. So many of us this morning you’ve put up with us. You’ve forgiven us. You’ve endured so much. We thank you for this.

And we pray that you would give to us by your spirit more of that patience, which is the fruit of the spirit. So that as we deal with those who are lost and as we deal with those who are found, we might have something of his grace and that you would continue to work in and through us, that which is pleasing to you.

We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.