Gateway to the Classics: St. Mark by J. Paterson Smyth
St. Mark by  J. Paterson Smyth


The Considerateness of Christ

St. Mark VI. 30 to end.

"An high priest who can sympathize with our infirmities."

T HE whole Lesson is about Christ's considerateness. Do not underestimate the importance of teaching the lesson about holidays here. It is most injurious to children to associate God's will only with work and school, and disagreeable things, and to fancy that He only "puts up with" play and holidays, and laughter, and all that they enjoy. Apply the third section as a "parable of life," as indicated in the Lesson.

§ 1. Considerate for Tired People

Read vv.  30-34. Hold up all who don't like holidays. You do  like them? But does God? Does he not prefer work? You know your school work is God's will for you—sums, and geography, and Latin, and all hard lessons. God's will that you should do them well. But what about the amusements—the games, the fun in the play-ground—the Easter, and summer, and Christmas vacations? What about marbles, and handball, and football, and cycling, and cricket, and tennis? (For girls mention girls' games.) One great use of studying our Lord's life is the finding out his opinion about matters of ordinary life. Now, here we have Him and His disciples going for vacation.

Disciples just returned from their mission; dead tired after tramping from village to village in the hot sun, preaching and arguing with unwilling hearers. What did they tell Him? (v.  30). And even while they told Him, had they rest? (v.  31). Many coming and going; crowding, clamouring, bustling; "no leisure so much as to eat." And the kind thoughtful, considerate Master knew it had been a hard pull for them, that there had been overstrain of mind and body, and that the best thing for them was perfect change and rest. And don't you think he needed it Himself even more? He had far more work and strain than they, and the news that had just come did not make it easier. What news? (v.  29). (See also Matthew xiv. 12.) His cousin John murdered by Herod. He knew it was good for them all to get away from the work and the people—away amid the fields, and woods, and mountains—to walk and talk together; to rest body and mind, and to commune with God. What did He direct? (v.  31). Were they not kind and thoughtful words? What do they teach us about our holidays, and rest, and recreations? That they are part of religion, as well as work is; they are God's will—God's pleasure for us.

Is it right to teach boys and girls that only lessons, and work, and sickness, and disagreeable things are God's will, and not to tell them that the games, and amusements, and merry romping everywhere are God's will, too, so long as wrong-doing is kept out? Would your parents like to see you never playing, or laughing, or enjoying yourselves? Would God like it? Parents want you to enjoy life. Does God? Yes; far more than parents do. Not lazy, constant idling. He hates that. He delights in hearty work. But He delights, too, in hearty play after work. Therefore, always remember in the midst of games and holidays that God rejoices in His children's enjoyments. He intended the lambs to skip and jump in the fields. He intended you to laugh, and play, and be full of happiness. Only one thing He forbids in your play, because it would spoil your happiness and your lives. What? Sin.

§ 2. Considerate for Hungry People

Read vv.  34-44. Saw His considerateness for tired people. Now see it for hungry people. Did He get the holidays that He wanted for Self and disciples? Did He get away from crowd to rest? Why? (v.  33).

I wonder if you would like, just at holiday times when very tired, to find holidays stopped. So here. Crowds saw them going, and noted direction, and came swarming after them—no rest; no quiet. Did He get vexed? (v.  34). His whole thought always for others. Far away in the country, many miles from towns and shops. What did disciples say? Jesus too considerate to do so. Doubtless very tired and faint Himself after that tiring day. So could understand their weariness, and the misery of walking many miles to find a shop. Tell me the conversation (vv.  37-39). Astonishment of disciples. What could He do with so little food!

Directions about seating them—in ranks— word means "garden beds." Evidently they were placed in regular rows and squares, and, with their bright-coloured dresses, looked like a number of huge flower-beds. Why so arranged? That all should be orderly, and none passed over. Like arrangement at big Sunday School treat. How many "flower-beds" would there be if all fifties? How many if all hundreds? Women and children sat in other rows separate. Therefore, easy to know number (v.  44).

Now, see the gaily dressed groups, like garden-plots, a huge crowd, and the five little barley-loaves in Jesus's hands. How the people would stare and wonder. What could He do? First He looked up to Heaven and blessed them. His thoughts were always of Heaven and thankfulness. (Refer here to grace before and after meals.)  Then? Then? Gave to disciples and they to poor hungry people—men, women, and children. How thankful the mothers would be to see the hungry children fed by Him. How glad He would be, for He so loved children. But how could five loaves feed 5,000? We know not. With God all things are possible. Does He ever do that miracle now? Would you be surprised if I had seen it done last year! How? Farmer put in a bushel of corn in ground, and left it, and God made it into fifty bushels! That miracle is going on every year. It was nothing difficult to our Lord. It was His ordinary work. He is always doing it. So the "water turned into wine." (John ii.) Nothing strange or difficult in it. It is God's everyday work, only just done then in a shorter time. In vineyards of Italy the vine roots suck up the moisture out of the ground, and God turns it into wine. To us all these things are miracles. To God they are easy, ordinary things.

Notice how considerate he was for these people's wants. He loved men's souls, and helped and saved them. Yet He did not think of people merely as "souls" to be saved, but as men and women to be helped in every way. He is always like that. While thinking of the danger of sinful human souls, He thinks also of the burden of weary human hearts, and the hunger of starving human bodies. He loves to bless us, comfort us, help us, but, above all, to make us noble and good.

§ 3. Considerate for Frightened People

Read vv.  45-52. Midnight. He is alone on mountain-top. What doing? Yes; He is always longing to be at prayer in communion with the Father. Praying probably for the world, for the poor people whom He had fed, for disciples. Where were crowds? Where were disciples? How situated? Did He know and see? Did they know that He was looking at and thinking of them? Like the poor troubled, frightened people in the world to-day.

Is He looking at and thinking of them?  Do they know? Some do. Most people doubt or forget that there is One always looking down, caring more than their nearest and dearest for the hard struggle of life. Just as on the mountain-top that night, so always. What did He do? Why? Bring out the thought of His care and consideration in going to help and cheer them, and apply it to the help He gives to frightened strugglers still. "Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid." Carry on the story, and apply it as a parable of life. When they received Him into the ship, the storm ceased, and there was a great calm. Show how that happens still when they receive Him into the ship.

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