The Meat in the Middle

The Meat in the Middle

Eighth Sunday After Pentecost

Sermon starts at 21:35 in the recording

Service Booklet

This Week’s Readings

Gospel: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

Afterthoughts: Power in the Midst of Weakness

Sunday’s message was about “The Meat in the Middle.”
If you remember, I talked about sandwiches.
I grew up LOVING sandwiches.
My parents owned a candy store that had a deli too.
I also shared a fact that I had forgotten from my own family’s history, they ate butter sandwiches.

To me, a butter sandwich is not a sandwich.
It is eating bread with butter.
Yes, I realize why people had to eat like this,
but it still doesn’t qualify as a sandwich to me.

What’s important about a sandwich is what is in the middle.
It’s the meat in middle.

I contend that the Gospel reading from this last week was a butter sandwich reading. It seemed as though it was seamless, but it omitted a large section of the narrative that I feel is the “meat in the middle.”

The “meat” to the narrative was this:

It is only through the power of God
that we are equipped to live this life of faith.

It is clear to see from a few parts of the reading that the apostles were having a difficult time tuning into this.

In the beginning of the reading (6:30), we see that the Apostles are excited upon returning from their mission they had been sent on by Jesus.

“The apostles gathered around Jesus,
and told him all that they had done and taught.”

Near the beginning of this chapter, Mark records Jesus sending the apostles out with some a fairly direct charge,

“Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.”

Basically, you will take the bare minimum on this mission.
Because it was through Jesus’ authority that they went forward.

“and [He] gave them authority”

I am sending you out.
I am giving you authority.
You are on My dime.
I will take care of you.
Learn to see the power of God in the midst of what I will call you to.

But they didn’t really get it.
They returned from their mission excited about what THEY had done.

Again, from the reading,

“The apostles gathered around Jesus,
and told him all that they had done and taught.”

What is clear is what we all know to be true.
To be a part of something bigger than ourselves is a real joy.
We are excited about how we have contributed.


But we have to realize that there is no real power in and of ourselves.
This is the lesson Jesus is trying to hammer home with His disciples.

That’s part of the reason Jesus challenges them in the feeding of the five thousand.

“When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?”

First it’s, “Look what we did!”
Then it’s, “We can’t do that!”

This idea of their lack of understanding is confirmed after another power encounter.

After the feeding of the five thousand,
Jesus dismisses His disciples to go and rest
while He finishes things up with the crowd.

They are on the Sea of Galilee and the ride is rough.
Jesus walks across the lake and they are frightened;
both at Jesus and the stormy waters.

The narrative then concludes with this;

“Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.”

Having witnessed awesome power in the mission they were sent on,
Having seen the miracle of the loaves and fishes,
Having witnessed their Teacher walking on the stormy waters,
and then calming said waters,

They didn’t get it.
Their hearts were hardened.
Their minds were blind to what they had witnessed
and they had not believed.

Which means that they would remain stuck in themselves without this realization (which they would all be slow to realize).

Which means for us,
we, too, will be stuck if we don’t realize the power present
and available for all who are on this journey of faith.

In a passage I think of often, Paul writes this:

“Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

The beauty of this walk of faith is that the God who calls us to obedience offers us the tools to pursue this obedience.

The God who invites us into this Grace
Lavishly provides the grace needed.

For our part, we need only have the faith to see the power available for us while on this journey and navigating the many different seasons of our lives.

And so we pray and say,

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”