Read: Numbers 16-17, Mark 6:33-56
In today’s reading, we see two very different accounts. Israel has just recently made the decision to not go into the Promised Land. Ten of the twelve scouts that were sent to scope out the land came back saying it’s good, but we can’t overpower the people already living there. We’re better off where we are. So they decide to stay in the desert and are then upset about it! They don’t like the food. They don’t like the dirt. They don’t like their leaders. They don’t like much about their situation, even though they’re in it because of the choices they made.
The Israelites said to Moses, “We will all die! We are lost, we are all lost! Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord will die. Are we all going to die?”
Numbers 18:12-13 (NIV)
Flash forward to Mark. Jesus has been working with his disciples for some time now. They’ve already been out on missions trips. Crowds find and follow them wherever they go. Even though they’ve seen miracles and have been a part of working miracles, these twelve guys still don’t have it all together. They don’t understand everything that’s happening, but they seem pretty keen on being a part of it. They may question some of Jesus’ methods, but they work, so in the end the go along with him. They’re seeing sick and lame healed, dead raised, and people set free. And they’re in it because of the choices they made.
And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.
Mark 6:56 (NIV)
Israel lived in fear while Jesus’ followers lived in awe. Israel refused over and over again to obey, yet they still expected the fulfillment of God’s promises. The crowds that followed Jesus chased after him and experienced miracles. Do you see the connection?
Rebellion will never lead to revival.
Israel was a giant flock of lost sheep. God had given them a shepherd, but they didn’t like him. They didn’t want to follow all of the rules. They wanted to have their own way. Instead of walking straight from bondage into bounty, they wandered and they died. Only two men who stepped out of Egypt walked into the promise—because they saw beyond the problem.
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
Mark 6:34 (NIV)
Here’s another group of lost sheep. But these sheep chose to trust their shepherd and they were greatly rewarded for it.
Rebellion leads to restlessness, while following leads to freedom.